Friday, September 30, 2005


Each year more and more I miss the great rickety bamboo racks that in not-long-ago days used to stand in every rice paddy at harvest time, hung with just-harvested rice stalks tied with the rice straw itself into bunches by grandparents, wives and children, then hung in golden bundles head down...

'And wisely so,' I always used to realize afresh each year I saw the high golden walls on my autumn wanderings and stopped to look, inspired to recollection by the sight: how wise, to let the energy of the stalks drain down into the rice grains, let all cure over several days in autumn sun and wind, let every bit of goodness find its place before the rice is threshed and the straw is used for feed or mulch...

Nowadays the harvested fields stand raggedly empty, with no need for grandparents, wives or children, as more and more farmers dry the whole shebang in an hour or two using electric dryers in their garages, unseen and uninspiring to muse-hungry passersby, who perhaps are becoming fewer too, as a result of such diminishments in the general wonderscape...

How inspiring things were in the slower days, when wonderment was a common pastime as I recall, wisdom-seeds falling on the wonderer's mind from every direction for careful germination. In the now we have now, where no one even sits around whittling, ocasionally looking at the sky, wisdom is acceleratingly co-opted in the big whiz of speed and convenience, instant ease, strapped into chambers, retort packaged, zipping by or sealed in black boxes beyond our reach and care, no longer inspiring or even visible, merely reclusive, cryptic, plasticly hermetic...

Not much slow wisdom around any more as the corners are cut ever smaller, to what one day may be fully incurious roundness, no more corners remaining to slow us down, give us pause to ponder... By then where will we be? Encased in sleek pods, perhaps, fully systemed by black boxes, well-governed and as empty of wonder as fields of their harvest...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ishiyama Temple and Lake Biwa in Omi Province

From Famous Views of the 60-odd Provinces
by Ando Hiroshige
from the splendid archive

w/thanks to sgt.serenity

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Being without tv here for most of the year, and being well traveled in the world, so knowing better than to expect truth in the news, I wasn't acquainted with more than the names of the tv newspeople Etan Thomas mentioned in his speech (previous post); but while visiting the States recently I did get a short but stomach-turning look at Bill O'Reilly, who I am embarrassed to say is Irish. (Of a certain boorish, bullying type I remember very well from my younger days in NY; being Irish myself, I was ashamed of the type then, too.)

Secure behind a slick shield of acid innuendo nuanced to resemble truth (there’s no money in truth), O'Reilly appeals to those of the shortchanged powerless who fester with vicious opinions. Which, judging by Mr. O’s popularity, would seem to comprise the majority of the tv-watching American public, for whom he is the mouthpiece of the day, though I pray that soon comes to an end…

Using logical and rhetorical deceptions that have always been the stock-in-trade of corrupt politicians, shady lawyers, pyramid schemers, Brooklyn Bridge salesmen and the like (deceptions apparent to anyone who thinks deeply on a daily basis), peppered with gaps in logic and razors of innuendo that would never be allowed in a court of law or any other forum of integrity (but that fall clinically short of libel), O’Reilly postures with faux authority as any poor-man's Mussolini must do who wishes to maintain the illusion of genuineness.

That O'Reilly has a slant (precipice might be a better word) is obvious even before he opens his mouth. (Subjectively speaking, he even LOOKS toxic.) He's the malignant form of the old-time night-carnival barkers who used to cover the ground in deep sawdust and cheerily drop the change of the rubes crowding in to see the alligator lady as he goodfellowed them along, away from their money on the shadowy ground (a net beneath the sawdust for his later ease of collection).

But those scammers moved from town to town, ripped folks off in each place only once a year; O’Reilly does his spiel on the airwaves every day across the nation, thieving something worth far more than money. And the fact he’s all the more popular for doing it doesn’t bode well for the integrity of America.


"I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

Radio 'host' Bill Bennett, former Reagan administration Secretary of Education(!!!) and author of the bestselling facade The Book of Virtues

As seen at MediaMatters
[added 9.30]


"In fact, I'd like to take some of these cats on a field trip. I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner and no seatbelts and round up Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr. and Bush Sr., John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson and any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, and take them all on a trip to the ‘hood. Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off and leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed and no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance..."

From Washington AntiWar Rally Speech by Etan Thomas

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Newspaper rumor has it that Japan's Ground Self-Defense force is preparing for attack by China, but nobody's come to my door to say anything. No posters around the neighborhood warning us of the Asiatic foe at our doorstep, no local signs of anti-invasion preparations, nobody handing out old rifles and pitchforks at the village hall or recruiting volunteer labor to dig defense works...

None of my neighbors have mentioned that the Chinese might be coming, like Russia was coming to the States back when that country was working hard to keep the cold war cold, keep us in a state of perpetual readiness and manipulability. Everybody who's been paying attention knows by now, though, that Koizumi, chronic visitor to Yasukuni Shrine, repeat offender of Japan's WWII Asian victims and apparently poor student of history, wants to get the constitution changed so that Japan can have its own army, an army it can send abroad offensively if it wants to, just like all the other edgy countries.

I suspect that the threats of Chinese and other invasion will only get louder as the old pattern is followed, until and forever after the new LDP gets its wish: its very own Japanese army, and termination of the only remaining major national example of what should have been the future of the world.

Newspaper rumor

Monday, September 26, 2005


Out this afternoon splitting the remnant firewood. Finished the last sections of oak, the air was cool and blue, still full of light, still some room in the wheelbarrow and on the rising woodpile, so I thought maybe I'd have a go at the 18" diameter sections of camphor wood I'd cut in early spring.

The camphor had thus been stacked uncovered in the mountain weather for about 6 months. A piece of oak that had been so would by now be housing ants, beetles, larvae and fungi beneath its rotting bark and within its decaying trunk; the camphor wood was pristine. I peeled off the bark; underneath, there was nothing but sleek wood.

It had been laying there ever since I'd cut it because I'd learned how maddeningly unsplittable is camphorwood, as passively resistant to man as to insects; oak is much more a labor of love. Still, with the sun and the air and the wind the way they were, I felt that on a day like this I could withstand quite a bit of maddening; besides, it was a shame to waste that good wood, so I picked up a section, set it on the stump, introduced the wedge and began trying.

True to the old form I'd experienced with the newly cut camphorwood, the wedge just sank in slowly, the wood giving way only minimally, showing no signs of splitting. Before long I was on the verge of working for 15 minutes more to at least get the damn wedge out of there and then throwing the section back on the pile to later maybe chainsaw into camphor cookies or something for the woodstove (camphor is densely sidegrained throughout, moreso than any other wood I can think of; it's like splitting a log made by compressing a pile of toothpicks), when a cracking sound began.

With the sound came a fragrance, the soul of the essence of camphor. Now that the wedge was in to a certain point the log was beginning to surrender, yielding that gift into the bargain. I just stood there and listened, sniffing deeply, as the log split slowly by itself. When at last I had it apart, it was apparent that the log had been drying out despite how it seemed from the outside; the outer inches were gray and dry, but there in the center was a moist, fragrant, viable section to which all the perfume had withdrawn, and now that scent was loosed on the air, in a constant stream that held me there, living in my nose.

So if you have some camphor wood, dry it for a few months in some mountain winds before splitting it, and be ready for the gift.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


"Dopamine has been associated with the novelty of drinking, gambling and other addictions, but it is also connected with curiosity, adventure, entrepreneurship and accomplishments. An experiment performed by Dr. Gregory Burns, author of a book on dopamine, Satisfaction, shows a positive side of dopamine.

"Dopamine helps to produce results in an uncertain world.

"Dr. Whybrow connects the excessive dopamine characteristics of America to migration. Approximately 2 percent of any population has enough dopamine to create the curious risk-taking necessary to leave the group. America basically is built through immigration. As a nation we have perhaps 50 percent with high dopamine characteristics. This drive has made America great.

"When explaining the difference between the American and European mind set, Dr. Whybrow cites and observation from Alexis de Tocqueville's famous 1835 treatise, Democracy in America. Tocqueville uses a merchant seaman as a metaphor. The European seaman is prudent when adventuring out to sea. When an unexpected event happens, he returns to port. The American, neglecting such precaution, braves these dangers. He sets sail while the storm is still rumbling. He spreads full sail to the wind. He repairs storm damage as he goes. The American is often shipwrecked, but no other sailor crosses the sea as fast as he does.

"The same mind-set difference between Europe and the United States is visible today. The Washington Post this June states, 'In France, not a single enterprise founded in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the 25 biggest French companies. By comparison, 19 of today's largest U.S. companies didn't exist 4 decades ago. That's why France is looking to the United States for lessons.'"

Referring article

Stimulating Source

Saturday, September 24, 2005


"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles."

Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents

(Handbook pdf can be downloaded from above site)

Public Eye article

The Handbook is dissed: The real top ten tips for blogging anonymously

Friday, September 23, 2005


Now that we in all our autumn doings tend to turn inward, away from the importances that nourish the roots of our going on - that permit us to be - now that nearly all the rice has been harvested, now that farmers too are busy indoors and their fields lie empty, bleakly shorn, puddles of mud and scattered chaff lying fallow as even the weeds themselves begin to lie down and the flowerless air to chill, on slender green leafless stems rise the elegant gestures of higanbana (Lycoris radiata – Spider Lily), each red blossom part of the bright ballet now dancing across the fields from out of the ground: one morning there they are, rising in the light, you never know where a new scarlet cluster will show up or how the flowers get around (since they make no seeds) but now they are dancing to the wind's music even on our recently reorganized mountainside, where they gesture in their red clouds along the untrammeled streambanks, reminding us that we have reached the turning point, the time of equinox, when the silent skyhinge swings us and all into winter and future: we've made it this far we're reminded by this red dance of velvet gestures, randomly presented about the landscape, though most impressively where the earth has lain untended, for nature dances best where humankind least sets foot…

Thursday, September 22, 2005


FEMA sends hundreds of truckfuls of Katrina ice to Maine...

"City officials say they have no idea why the trucks are here, only that the city has been asked to help out with traffic problems..."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


"It is the fate of modernism that we repeatedly lose touch with nature, the environment, the planet. But we try to regain it again and again. It's like a circle. In children's hearts and souls when they're born into the world, nature already exists deep inside them. So what I want to do in my work is tap into their souls."

Interesting interview with the renowned director of Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Tottoro etc.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


"But in a larger sense, the administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.

Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, 'Why should I be taxed to support those people?'"

Tragedy in Black and White

"(Brownie You're Doing a) Heck of a Job" Harry Shearer song, MP3 format
(w/thanks to Nils)

Whatever Happened to Journalistic Integrity?

I just read this otherwise professionally written article on Horie, the young Japanese internetpreneur who's shaking up so many aspects of the Japanese establishment and was sent by Koizumi as an 'assassin' candidate to run against one of the old guard opponents of the 'Lion King's' pet project, postal privatization.

The writer seems to be at some remove from Japan itself, as is so often the case in articles about Japan. He mentions that Horie says and does his own thing, meeting business execs without wearing a tie; doesn't mention that, more shockingly, Horie also often doesn't wear socks.

Most egregiously, though, the writer says that Horie's nickname 'Horiemon' is the conflation of Horie and Pokemon, which everyone who's been here for more than a minute or two in the last month knows is in fact the combination of Horie and Doraemon, for several reasons having to do with the latter's rolypolyness and bottomless bag of tricks (which often backfire).

Moreover, anyone who professes to be in the know about Japan would certainly know that Pokemon is not a character, but a species...

Unconscionable; and alienating all those Doraemonists, to say nothing of the ruthless Pokemonistas...

Monday, September 19, 2005


"On one hand, starvation faced those who produced commodities as a national occupation. On the other hand, those that produced paper certificates were enjoying unparalleled prosperity. Debt was 'in' and cash was 'out.' To have a house fully paid for is even now considered retrogressive, anachronistic economics. Why isn't it wise to have that money at work making money when mortgages are being given away at paltry costs? Something had to give and it did. The U.S. dollar, as the common share of the U.S.A. Inc., made a high that we may not see again in this generation. There is no room for another replay of Chairman Volcker's action in 1980 because of the level of U.S./EU debt, but more so because of the level of special performance, unfunded, non-regulated, non-transparent, often fraudulent derivative contracts.

There is no policy initiative in place or even considered to reverse the triple deficits that are being caused by multiple wars, tax cuts for the super wealthy, pork barrel spending and now the need to rebuild New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast.


"We need some adult supervision of the budget process." Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill.


Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Financial Times begins a noble effort at grammatic clarity as regards the semicolon, that punctuation hybrid that is more than a comma yet less than a period (which is why it contains both) and is unsurprisingly found useless by those who write like they're laying bricks, rather than as a tree grows. I for one, though American, am fully in the pro-semicolon camp, where I have a small leaky tent in the corner, by the latrines. However, when I went to place my vote for the semicolon in this admirable FT quest for understanding, I came to this:

Are you for or against the semicolon?

I'd assumed that lucidity of thought and expression was the overall aim here, but this presents a much bigger grammatic problem than any semicolon ever could. The choices "YES, I am for or against" and "NO, I am for or against" surely were not concocted by a native speaker of English, let alone a writer? I can't see any point to voting. Maybe if they threw in a bunch of semicolons;;;




Late this afternoon as I was winding up the latter firewood portion of the day, tarping the freshly split oak against tonight’s threatening thunderstorms and wheelbarrowing the scavenged firewood from the pile in front (where we toss it as found) out to the back of the house to add to this winter’s pile, because it was the end of the day and I had been lugging and splitting for a good portion of it my back was ready to call it quits a bit sooner than I was, so it registered all the more strongly that, as I wheelbarrowed the loads, in keeping the wheelbarrow level - i.e., at operating height - I had to lean over so as to make my height about 5'5", instead of my actual 6'1".

It occurred to me as I bore this discomfort that wheelbarrow makers in Japan were still using a user-comfort template that assumed the operators of wheelbarrows to be slightly over five feet tall, which may have been true 40 years ago, but surely not now… although it seems that most farmers around here are in fact about that height… still, I see many folks as tall as I am or taller, among the Japanese… though they are generally not farmers, but students or professionals of one sort or another… are farmers generally shorter still than the descendants of the old elite, who ate well and did no manual labor and largely became the urban professionals of today?

Now that I’d thought of it, my various hoes did have handles of a length that forces me to bend over inordinately so as to use them at best leverage, as does my weed whacker. And at the time all this occurred to me I was enjoying the digital freedom afforded by the large US-bought work gloves I was wearing that had come in three sizes, unlike the uniform one-finger-size-fits-all work gloves sold in the farm stores here. Are the rural Japanese really that uniform?

I’ll have to keep my eyes open on this subject, walk around with a tape measure in my pocket, ask farmers in the fields how tall they are - hold up one finger please - no one in the village will think I’m a strange foreigner, though my gardening tools are slowly transforming me into Quasimodo…


"Whether or not there are grounds for suspicion of the extraordinary federal failure in New Orleans, it is certain that federal bureaucracies will take advantage of the situation to grab more powers in behalf of their own agendas.

Private parties already are doing so. The New Orleans power elite sees in the recent U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision, which permits the use of eminent domain to serve private interests, a chance to rebuild New Orleans in their own image.

In the Sept. 8 Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper ('Old Line Families Plot the Future') quotes members of the power elite, who admit they are mapping out a new city that will not restore the old order: 'Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically,' says James Reiss. 'I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again.'

The Journal's report brings to light that the 'teeming (black) underclass,' which guarantees Democratic control of New Orleans, is one part of the old order that is not slated for renewal. In other words, federal failure in New Orleans plus Kelo equals ethnic cleansing of a large, historic American city.

With 40 members of the New Orleans power elite having seized the opportunity to meet in Dallas on Sept. 9 'to begin mapping out a future for the city,' you can bet federal agencies will use the same opportunity to grab heightened powers. The rights that protect U.S. citizens from government power are rapidly disappearing, if not already lost. This is the real crisis faced by the vast majority of Americans who are not a part of the power elite."

by Paul Craig Roberts

Saturday, September 17, 2005


With a basket, out very early this cool morning face-barging my way through spiderwebs constructed since my previous visit to the blueberries to get what's left of the last of them before the pheasants do, on my way through the garden I noticed a lot of ripe tomatoes flashing "PICK ME" in an irresistible bright-red neon tomato font and right away thought where have all the monkeys gone as I stopped and plucked all the round redness then went on and picked the fat purple blueberries and put them on top of the tomatoes, but didn’t consider that mindevent sequence the least bit strange until I later sat down to eat the new blueberries in the morning sun while I looked at the basket of freshly picked tomatoes in the new light and wondered once again about the monkeys when it dawned on me like the sun on the night how different the taste of fresh blueberries is from going to the office...

Friday, September 16, 2005


First the NOLA disaster was all in the hands of a guy who used to monitor horse shows for a living. Got kicked outta disaster management not for abject inexperience, wide-ranging incompetence or offensive lack of empathy, but for resume problems. Then they put NOLA in the hands of the guy who called for duct tape and plastic sheeting as a defense against anyminutenow bioterror, which there’s been a lot of. Now, to sludge along in that same sclerotic vein, the whole NOLA reconstruction effort is underway and what pale male is gonna be in charge? Who’s yer daddy?


"So here is the White House's Katrina Plan in a nutshell: block any independent examination of its failings, put the Einstein of damage control in charge of reconstructing New Orleans, keep the dead bodies out of sight, try to get away with general platitudes and palliatives, offer watered-down acceptances of 'responsibility' while trying to pin everything you can on local yokels and fall guys like Brownie, and let Bush's corporate cronies get fat on hefty no-bid reconstruction contracts.

So get ready for the New New Orleans -- Karl Rove's Big Easy -- featuring the Halliburton French Quarter, the ExxonMobil River (formerly the Mississippi), Lake MBNA (formerly Pontchartrain), and Eli Lilly music (formerly jazz)." Source


Be sure to make inositol pentakisphosphate a major part of your diet.

"A diet rich in beans, nuts and cereals could be a way to prevent cancer, believe UK researchers. Scientists at University College London have discovered that these everyday foods contain a potent anti-cancer compound."

Imagine, then, the preventive potency of a big bowl of brown rice smothered in natto!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


"I didn't know if I was doing the right thing," the doctor said.

"But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.

"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony.

"If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose.

"And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul."

Full story


After the Flood audio file (Description)

From PRI


"My staff and the vets spend their 18-hour days delivering food and water throughout the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. What they have seen is appalling. I have asked them to post their daily diaries on my website ( along with accompanying photos and video so you can learn what is really going on. What the media is showing you is NOT the whole story. It is much, much worse and there is still little being done to bring help to those who need it.

Our group has visited many outlying towns and villages in Mississippi and Louisiana, places the Red Cross and FEMA haven't visited in over a week. Often our volunteers are the first relief any of these people have seen. They have no food, water or electricity. People die every day. There are no TV cameras recording this. They have started to report the spin and PR put out by the White House, the happy news that often isn't true ("Everyone gets 2,000 dollars!").

The truth is that there are dead bodies everywhere and no one is picking them up. My crew reports that in most areas there is no FEMA presence, and very little Red Cross. It's been over two weeks since the hurricane and there is simply not much being done. At this point, would you call this situation incompetence or a purposeful refusal to get real help down there?"

--Michael Moore newsletter


A Doctor's Message from Katrina's Front Lines


"The Foreign Section Trust celebrates the international community's role in Japan's history and helps preserve a record of individuals' activities and achievements."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


School days have started in Japan, and on the train to work that passes though all the stations filled with waiting countryside kids dressed in all their variations on the uniform (things haven’t changed all that much in this regard since I first came here in the early 70s and beheld guys going to school in expensive Meiji era military uniforms (expensive as we later learned from having to keep Keech newly and cleanly uniformed during his high school days - school uniforms have long been a lucrative business here), the guys in full uniform with cap, the girls in long dresses that were the chaste equivalent) and though it seems the authorities have pretty much done away with the caps and outer jackets, the guys still have to wear white shirts and ties with the uniform pants, the girls chastely shorter versions of chastity.

Nevertheless, everywhere I looked along the train line were signs of the students’ innate craving to defeat the unifomity, to deuniformize, to express their selves however borderline permissible: the guys via lowered pants, raised cuffs, oddly clinched belts, loose ties, oddly tied ties, big shirts, open collars; the girls via low socks, floppy socks, superfloppy socks, bulky socks, high socks, open collars, varilength sleeves, any way they could vary the uniform, it was done. Natural enough in the young.

I remember doing the same when I was in high school and we had to wear ties and jackets; we would do whatever we could to be different without actually breaking the rules, though we did it in tribes, to be massively cool, wearing a shoelace as a tie, or throwing the tie over the shoulder, but for most the defiance (which in truth was more solidarity/conformity with peers than defiance of authority) didn’t last much beyond graduation and wanderjahre into real life, where defiance didn’t work for the newbies back then, any more than it will work now for most of these youngsters. A few, though, will manage to follow their own way through life and one day down the line perhaps brighten the journey for all, through the power of their art…

"The world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your robes at the sound of a bell?"


The light from the explosion reached earth 13 billion years later, while I was stacking firewood. What were you doing 13 billion years later?

Monday, September 12, 2005


"Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. 'Mr. President,' she said, 'we need your help. We need everything you've got.'

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. 'She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir,' said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.'

How Bush Blew It: Newsweek Story at MSNBC

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Now World's Fastest Growing Religion...
And who among us, especially around lunchtime,
does not hunger for the pasta that surpasseth understanding?
Introibo ad altare pasti cum Peccorino Romano...


'Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.'
--unless you're the American public, if they put up with this.

No mention, though, of price restraints on the no-bid contracts, or any hint at limiting executive salaries or corporate profits; this has made Fluor, Bechtel, Halliburton The Shaw Group (represented by Allbaugh, who gave us Michael Brown) very happy, because they can use those extra pennies that the underprivileged-anyway laborers won't really need, since they're so lucky now.


"The order cancels 'prevailing wages,' which assure that workers on federal jobs receive hourly pay akin to workers doing similar work in those areas. Prevailing wages in the Deep South states are barely above poverty: $9.55 an hour, for example, for a construction laborer in New Orleans.

Now Bush is yanking away even that shaky floor - for the very same people hardest hit by the nation's worst natural disaster. We don't know how much that poor laborer will earn under Bush's decree, but let's face it, we're talking about slave wages here for a desperate group of workers washed out of their homes, out of their jobs, out of the world as they knew it.

Bush did this on the same day when he called on the Lord.

Does this man have no shame? Is there no level he won't stoop to, to line the pockets of his buddies in business? We might wonder how his mother could have raised him this way, but we've already seen Barbara Bush's disgraceful statements about low-income people.

Consider, Bush has put little or nothing in place to control the money that will flow to businesses receiving chunks of the $62.3 billion authorized so far for Katrina relief. Five private firms have already been hired, and a sixth, Vice President Cheney's Halliburton, is already on the job, according to The Wall Street Journal."

They have the biggest shovels, too... More


"Joe M. Allbaugh, a close friend of President Bush's, the president's 2000 campaign manager and the FEMA director from 2001 to 2003, and James Lee Witt, an Arkansan close to former President Bill Clinton and a former FEMA director, are now high-priced consultants, and they have been offering their services to companies seeking or holding federal contracts in the post-Katrina gold rush."

And who gets that gold, I wonder.... More


Well the big day in Japan has come at last (perhaps it's not so odd that they chose 9/11). Today's the day we'll all find out the answers to the big questions that have been roiling in the fevered mind of the electorate for much too long a time now: will Koizumi be victorious?

Will the Post Office, the world's largest 'bank' (Japan's post office is also a banking system), be privatized and all those trillions in very idle cash - now earning peanuts for the savers - no longer be the pork-barrel piggy bank of the Old Guard who institutionalized the wearing of white gloves at election time to show how clean their hands appeared to be? Or will all that cash be fed to the shark-filled money pool of Kabutocho and all the salivating Wall Streets of the world?

In Hiroshima, will gloveless "assassin" Horie, lively young tycoon, defeat the plodding Kamei, who wears the apparently whitest gloves of all? In Gifu Prefecture, will the good-looking "lipstick ninja" who has allegedly had several affairs with married men defeat the rather staid but post-office-enamored incumbent lady?

In Nagano, will the erotic novelist-cum-governor of the Prefecture prevail in his purely platonic affection for the postal tradition? What does it all mean? Will Japan at last open its doors to cherry pie? Generally available chocolate ice cream? Genuine Doritos? The potential for change is staggering (as always), were a trickle to become a flood!

Voting has already started (at a much higher turnout than usual) and ends at 8pm, when victory roses/carnations will be issued to the banzai-ing winners and the losers will just disappear. I was going to say tune in here for ongoing updates on the election that will determine the future of Japan and its Post Office, but there’s no such site!

Perhaps this lack of current info will change, and the election system too will become that much more democratic! (Breathholding not recommended.)

Friday, September 09, 2005


As I came up the road tonight into darkness that chased the edge of sunset around the black silhouette of the mountains, the way was lit by a silver wedge of moon, about a hand’s breadth above the slope to the south.

The moon itself was in a clear area of sky, but just reaching for it - about to touch it - was the horsehead of a distant cloud, a white horse racing, neck outstretched to grab the moon; then, against the deeper dark, the stormcloud that was the horse’s body flashed light from deep within to its periphery, much like our own bodies experience the rush of emotions (we’re not all that dissimilar from clouds).

As I climbed higher the moon sank lower, until it was only a bright glimpse now and then among the trees, and all that lit my way home was the passion of the great white horse, chasing the silver apple…


No crisis interferes with the veneer...

"Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.
But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."

Story via Daily Kos


"On a shelf outside the office are white binders with titles like "Colonial '04" and "Boone '05" on the spines. Little-known section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires high schools to provide student names and contact information to military recruiters, a rule that does little to bolster our fledgling education system but does help the armed forces get to the people most likely to be influenced by the money: high school students."

Thursday, September 08, 2005



"There will also be a 9/11 Commission–caliber investigation, although, as New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote, if 9/11 is any guide, full disclosure will come only 'after the administration and its apologists erect every possible barrier to keep us from learning the truth.'"


"Finally, America will have to get over the shock of seeing itself in a new, unflattering light. It is not just the lawlessness, violence and gun culture that has been on show in New Orleans. It is also that America likes to think of itself as the "indispensable nation", the strongest, richest, most capable country on the face of the earth.

That belief had already taken a few blows. The vulnerability exposed on 9/11 was one. The struggle in Iraq - where America has become a Gulliver, tied down - was another. But now the giant has been hit again, its weak spot exposed. When corpses float in the streets for five days, the indispensable nation looks like a society that cannot take care of its own. When Sri Lanka offers to send emergency aid, the humiliation is complete."

Full article

w/thanks to A. P.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


If you believe that Louisiana is a city, then you too are qualified to fill the position of Secretary of Homeland Security in the United States Government, with the assigned responsibility of keeping all US citizens safe, wherever they live in our proud nation, from the good City of Louisiana to the midwestern State of Los Angeles! We're here to serve!


We got off pretty easy as it turned out, typhoonwise; during the night some heavy rain that made a lake out of the air, gray skies issuing stiff breezes in the morning and throughout most of the day as the typhoon, roughing us only with the tips of its wings while rending its savage way across Kyushu, snailed up the Japan Sea threatening at any minute, for some unknowable typhoony reason, to take a sharp right turn east and bear straight down on us once again, so all day no one could really relax in the surety that the windy beast had gone.

But now it IS gone and the air is as still as only post-typhoon air can be, so the insects and frogs are even now combining their choirs and getting two or three nights worth of pent-up chorale work done all at once, turning the air into more of an actual feeling than the mere combination of gases it generally is, sort of like listening to Koko Taylor live, only not the blues and with a stage the size of the landscape. Memorable.

Here's How You Can Make an Immediate Difference in Louisiana

"Many don't know who to trust. Many want to do more than write a check. You are right to think that writing checks to relief agencies will not get water and aid to people in the next 48 hours. Checks will be needed later and can be written later.

I have a way, though, for each and every one of us to do something today that can affect people's lives TODAY.

For the past few days I've been working with a group that, I guarantee you, will get direct aid to the people who need it most.

Cindy Sheehan, the brave woman who dared to challenge Mr. Bush at his summer home, has now sent her Camp Casey from in front of Bush's ranch to the outskirts of New Orleans. The Veterans for Peace have taken all the equipment and staff of volunteers and set up camp in Covington, Louisiana, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. They are accepting materials and personally distributing them to those in need.

This is where we come in. We need to ship supplies to them immediately. Today they need the following:

Paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper, baby diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, Pedialyte, baby items in general, powder, lotion, handy wipes, sterile gloves, electrolytes, LARGE cans of veggies, school supplies, and anything else to lift people's spirits.

You can ship these items by following the instructions on Or you can deliver them there in person. The roads to Covington are open. Here's how to get there. You can drop them off or you can stay and participate (if you stay, you'll be camping so bring your own tent and gear and mosquito spray).

If you can't ship these items or go there in person, then go to and make an immediate donation through PayPal. Camp Casey-Covington will have immediate access to this cash and can buy the items themselves from stores that are open in Louisiana (all donations to Veterans for Peace are tax deductible)."



"This patient... enthusiastically embarked upon the writing of novels. He sees nothing unusual in this activity." Wonder if the shrink ever got analyzed...

Full file at Smoking Gun


"Oxidized copper is prized in Japan as a natural paint pigment for its unique tint of bluish green. Now artists willing to pay the price will be able to dip their brushes in an especially precious palette - paints made from the oxidized copper roofing of the imperial palace."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


"The challenge for America is to remember the faces of the evacuees who will surely be ushered back into a black hole of public indifference as soon as the White House and local officials can manage it. While pledging ourselves to remember their mistreatment and fight for their cause, we should also be sure to cast a searching, skeptical eye on the money that Bush has pledged for rebuilding.

Ten billion dollars are about to pass into the sticky hands of politicians in the No. 1 and No. 3 most corrupt states in America. Worried about looting? You ain't seen nothing yet."

The Ugly Truth by Errol Louis


"What I’m hearing [about the NOLA refugees] which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas... And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Barbara Bush (that entire family is all heart...)


For a while at least, all hurricanes of a certain temperament will be called Katrina-like, and Asian hurricanes (typhoons) will be no exception. We here in Japan right now a have a very strong, indeed very Katrina-like typhoon (hurricane) called Nabi approaching us, and we in the office have just been collectively advised to leave for home as soon as “each of you deems it judicious,” to paraphrase the circumlocutory form of Japanese public early warning address in which no specific advice is given as indirectly as possible, thereby prompting dedicated company personnel to hang on by their samurai fingernails till the last minute, but not me. I'm doing the deeming here. (Americans generally do their own deeming wherever they are, which trait sometimes causes problems in Japan, as in other places of individual reticence). As soon as I finish the tasks immediately at hand I’m outta here. No way they’re gonna get me to stay at the Osaka Dome for five days listening to public announcements about deeming.


"But the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?"

Killed by Contempt PAUL KRUGMAN


"Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in "the great city" of N'Awlins. He was clearly moved. "You know, I'm going to fly out of here in a minute," he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, "but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen." Out of the cameras' range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal."

Monday, September 05, 2005


...whereas we are so rich and so white...


Sunday, September 04, 2005


"But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment."

US Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana press release

From the crooksandliars video: "She burst into tears as she looked at a single crane working to help repair the levees...

Landrieu... 'The President could have funded it, he cut it out of the budget. Is that the most pitiful sight you have ever seen in your life? -One little crane.'"

And from War and Piece:

"There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF."


"I think the genius of the people who are working here, the genius of the people of
FEMA, the people in the National Guard, the people in the Coast Guard is, they have been marvelously adaptable [sort of like being caged in the Superdome for a week?]. They have brought, for example, airlift capabilities and air rescue capabilities to bear in a way that I don't think we've ever seen in this country before [i.e., the slowest airlift in US history]. And so I think [note the loophole] it is a source of tremendous pride to me to work with people who have pulled off this really exceptional [exceptional in what way, exactly?] response."

Michael Chertoff
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Full vortex
Contrast that bureaupap with these actually felt words...

And this insider opinion regarding Michael Brown, head of FEMA:
"I think I've told you that I'm into Arab horses. Well, for 3 years Michael Brown was hired and then fired by our IAHA, the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He was an unmitigated, total fucking disaster. I was shocked as hell when captain clueless put him in charge of FEMA a couple of years ago." More...

Frank Rich's take on that "genius"

R.I.P., G.O.P.?

"Make no mistake: as we watch our fellow citizens drown, starve, and die in the street in New Orleans, its not incompetence or lack of planning that is killing them. It is willful neglect. It is the direct result of reducing the government 'down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.' This is what 'starving the beast' looks like.

[...] Rest in peace, Grand Old Party. America can no longer afford the drag that your self-delusions and cheap justifications put on our spirit. For those who are willing to turn back from pandering to the lowest common denominator and who choose to join us lifting up the better angels of our nature, we offer the hand of friendship. For the the rest: may the God whose name you have scandalized and used as cover for your lack of humanity have mercy on your degenerate souls."

RIP, GOP (An Exhortation)
by kingubu

via Medley

w/Thanks to Jack

Saturday, September 03, 2005

R. I. P.

R. L. Burnside

May he be carryin a asspocket of whiskey.

I'm playing Goin' Down South right now...

Friday, September 02, 2005



Interesting background plus


Gone with the Water, written a year ago
Drowning New Orleans, written 4 years ago

(w/thanks to M. Sinclair Stevens)


Vacation is over...

an open letter from Michael Moore



ongoing live reportage



Statement from N. O. Mayor Nagin

Nagin: - to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous. And I don’t want to see anybody do anymore goddamned press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city and then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can’t even count. Don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here! They're not here! It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let's do something! [Full transcript]

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Last night while out on the deck before bed as usual to take a look at the stars, trying to spot at least one star, or maybe Venus, through the clouds and get a sense of cloud direction and tomorrow’s weather, whether it was going to rain around here tonight, should I cover the motorcycle and tuck in the firewood?

As I was pondering these things, a loud smushy splat whonnggged through the deck, sort of like the sound of giant thumb plinking a watermelon as big as a car. Since it was dark as not even starlight, I stood there wondering what in the world the noise had been, when there was another whonnggg. I went inside and got a flashlight.

Shining it around on the deck I saw nothing but two little frogs, just a couple of centimeters long, who couldn’t have caused that big sound, until another little frog came plunging off the wall from apparently high up enough to give him a kinetic mass sufficient to resound on the deck boards if struck just right, and who is a greater master of just-right jumping and the nuances of impact than the tree frog?

They climb the wall in search of the bugs that are attracted by our lights, and I suppose when they have gotten their fill (and acquired quite a bit of bulk) they take the quickest way down, striking the long boards flat-on like wet green bullets. And from the way they just sit there grinning afterward, not hopping around in circles saying Ow! Ow!Ow! I have to conclude that they really get a charge out of this dangerous bungee-cordless sport on these last summer nights before their long sleep in the mud, where there's no excitement at all.


“At this very moment, all over the world, a variety of organisms are beaming with life. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were media by which people could get a sense of this? If a window could be opened up that would trigger city dwellers' memories of the rhythms of Nature, the way we sense the world and our way of being are bound to change somewhat. That hope, too, lies within.”


On Sunday the offsprung gang headed back up north; since then all has quietly been filling with discovered memories to step on, stumble over, suddenly notice: a balloon here, a withered wildflower bouquet there, a small white stone, a ball, a robot under the woodstove, a plum pit, tiny pearjuice handprints on the glass doors...

So much of life is built on little aches of the heart --