Friday, June 30, 2006


"So, last week I posted a comment on a blog I enjoy a lot (Pureland Mountain) and Tabor asked who I was and why I didn't have a blogsite. I got to thinking about that. Why didn't I?

I come from a long line of strong women. My tenth great-grandmother was one of the first three arrested for witchcraft in Salem. My great-grandmother refused to promise to obey when she got married in the 1890s. One of my other great-grandmothers was raised by her widowed grandmother and her great-grandmother, who was born when Washington was president and died after the Civil War.

I live on the side of a mountain overlooking the Gastineau Channel, can watch bald eagles circling below my window, and sometimes knock on my own front door and yell before I open it from the inside because bears have been known to use my stairs.

I stopped being a hippy before the word was in the common vocabulary and am as opinionated as they come."

Some good reading and interesting perspectives ahead, looks like. Lives on a mountainside, too, does Maya's Granny. (And her granddaughter's name is very like 'Kaya'!)

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The monkeys have been by, I noticed this morning, and bitten a few of my green tomatoes to check their progress since the last visit, see if the luscious goodies are nearing readiness for the big tomato fest the hairy marauders have planned, biting the greenies only lightly so as not to cause them to spoil before the big day, since the poor simians have put so much effort into coming back here again and again to check their tomatoes and it would be a shame if they went bad after all that buildup, to say nothing of some serious faceloss, tribewise.

In this picture I of course am their nemesis, implausibly claiming the tomatoes as my own, but planning my red pepper retort when the time is right. Having monkeys as adversaries is oddly invigorating to my primitive nature. Quotidian struggles on the train or with bureaucrats or other nefarious humans do not reach those protean deeps in the human soul, as does contesting with our ancient amoral relatives for the wherewithal of existence.

I have looked into human eyes, such as those of my drill sergeant in boot camp, and seen mercy long absent there, but to look into eyes where mercy has never been is to gaze into the dark whence we have arisen, that appears also to be the source of many elected officials. Enjoyment in battling the primitively sapient elements... perhaps I'm subconsciously preparing to run for office...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Receiving our water
from the mountain spring--
it fills our jars where it gushes
out of the rock till we're finished,
then comes the urge to turn it off...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


This was growing too long for comments, so...

I buy my ginger roots for growing at the local farmer store in May. (Often ginger root sold in food stores has been irradiated to lengthen its shelf life; check first, if buying to replant.) At the farm store I get planting roots for Oshoga ("big ginger"), the older, stronger, conventional ginger not eaten directly but used for flavoring, and Koshoga ("little ginger") the younger, smaller more delicate kind, used for pickling and garnish or cooking straight up. Both produce the second-growth ginger you see in the foto, with the reddish tops. That new ginger is what I mean. You get new ginger from either root type. In fact, the whole young new ginger plant can be cooked as a good vegetable.

I think that in temperate climates you could easily grow ginger in a window pot, or outdoors in a sunny/shady spot if you can keep the ground damp enough... In colder climates, maybe a window pot or small greenhouse. I live in a coldish temperate area, and I planted outdoors about a month ago. I soak the ginger patches a couple of times a week when there's been no rain for a while, which is not a problem this time of year. The first green shoots are spiking up now; will harvest as needed for cooking throughout the growing period; then from September, when the stems die down and all the energy goes into the root, we'll harvest whatever we want for pickles etc. and leave the rest in the ground, to dig up for use as spice, tea and whatnot throughout the winter.

Ginger is a versatile herb, excellent tonic for the body and a legendary Asian medicament, but another great feature of the magic root, that many unfortunate folks are not in a position to appreciate, is that monkeys don't like it at all.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Great Echo idea: Get some quality fresh ginger root (not irradiated), slice it as close to paperthin as you can, as thinly slice half a lemon or more, lightly stuff all into a clean and big enough widemouth jar, fill jar to above ginger level with honey, cover and put in fridge for at least two weeks before use.

Over time the honey extracts the ginger and lemon juice, making an excellent eating pickle of the ginger and lemon while the honey, increasingly thinned by the ginger and lemon juices, grows richer with flavor and nutritionally valuable enzymes.

The result is a non-spoiling, ginger-lemon-flavored honey juice that's great as sweetener for herbal tea (or simply hot water) in winter, lemonade or cool-water tonic in summer...

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Big-hearted barn swallow dressed in long-tail formals sittin' solo up there on the telephone wire, the voice of his generation, just singin' and clickin', scattin' with no holds barred, riffin' it all right out there for all to hear in the golden air of sunset, been rehearsin' all his life for this appearance, the whole world at his feet in rapt admiration of such native talent, he sings the sun all the way down in proof of his power...

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The Reader's Digest Global Courtesy Test, which ranks 35 world cities by degree of politeness (though suspiciously, their own article talks only about NYC), is certainly rankling some major metropolises, who feel they've been underrated, and are being rather unpolite about it; others, like No. 1 NYC (where many are saluting with a different finger today) are surprised and flattered, though the test is admittedly unscientific, so there's still some rudity wiggle room here. As to entire land masses, Asia turned out to be the rudest continent.

New York USA 80%
Zurich Switzerland 77
Toronto Canada 70
Berlin Germany 68
São Paulo Brazil 68
Zagreb Croatia 68
Auckland New Zealand 67
Warsaw Poland 67
Mexico City Mexico 65
Stockholm Sweden 63
Less polite cities

I noticed right away that the surveyors left Japan out of the picture altogether, likely because the entire country is so courteous it would skew the test right off the page.

Friday, June 23, 2006



GOP-Run Senate Kills Minimum Wage Increase

House passes bill to permanently reduce estate tax

Nice of the poor to help out the rich that way.

As a corollary:

U.S. Losing Its Middle-Class Neighborhoods

"Middle-class neighborhoods, long regarded as incubators for the American dream, are losing ground in cities across the country, shrinking at more than twice the rate of the middle class itself. In their place, poor and rich neighborhoods are both on the rise, as cities and suburbs have become increasingly segregated by income..."

Meanwhile, in the dark corridors of democracy...

And from the Beeb: US bosses earn an average salary 262 times the average worker's.

Also, Warren Buffett calls for retention of the Estate Tax
"Permanently repealing estate taxes is a long-sought Republican goal." Wonder why.
How you gonna vote on that in November? An honest result would be about 100,000,000 against to 1000 or so in favor of repeal...

Thursday, June 22, 2006


PLM just got a hit for the search "looking for a japanese girlfriend shirt forum." I'd mentioned the Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend t-shirts in a post sometime ago simply as a cultural oddity; we didn't need them in my day.

Frankly, as a man of some experience in this lovely country I can way understand why Japanese girls get their own "Wanted" t-shirt nowadays, in the frothy international market that neocourting has become; but of the guys who wear such shirts, I ask: you need a t-shirt for this? Even worse, you need a Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend T-shirt Forum? Aren't you busy with your girlfriends?

What's happened to men in the last 20 years? Step out of the country for just a couple of decades... It was all much simpler back when we simply approached beautiful Japanese women in Japan and in the timeless way gave them our best lines, in Japanese. Somehow, reliance on a foreign language t-shirt doesn't bring out the fortitude in a courting man...

But soon, all that stuff may not matter anymore; I just read that "People are going to be having sex with robots within five years." I suppose not long after that we'll see human guys wearing Looking for an Android Girlfriend t-shirts...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Some weeks ago, Echo bought a nice solid-ceramic egg that, according to the manufacturer, had a special chemicomystico-catalyticomatrix property by which it could render our refrigerator a truly magical space. The egg was rather expensive, as eggs not meant for eating often are. Echo purchased it never suspecting that one day it would find a place in the local biomythos; after all, it looked just like an egg: pure white, the size of a chicken egg. That's why, when Echo put the pristine objet d’art refrigeratique outside to air and dry in the sun as per the manufacturer's recommendation, it was stolen by a monkey.

Monkeys steal eggs all the time, no big deal, from crows, hawks, whatever wild eggs they can get their snatchy little paws on when they're not wrapped around my onions, so the monkey that found this bright white baby just sitting there shining in the sun with no one around, the biggest egg he ever saw, didn't pause to ponder right and wrong, wonder whether he should actually commit the greatest egg heist of his nasty, brutish and short life. That egg was history.

Seldom in the humdrum of the everyday are any of us afforded the kind of opportunity that fell into that monkey's paws, when fate laid before him the egg of a lifetime, the egg that would make him the most famous and revered monkey on this whole monkey planet, the Hope Diamond of eggs, that would make him the Monkey King, his name ringing from tree to tree throughout the mountain forests of his domain... He could see it all now as, with the precious object clutched tightly in his paw, he took off with a new and elite speed to climb a far tree unto the heights he now deserved, where he could be alone for a while with his treasure...

Then he would take it around and show it to the others - flaunt it, really; no fun being master of the universe if no one knows it - they would all want it and try to snatch it from him, but this was his baby, he'd enjoy it a while, casually; then, right in front of them all, he'd eat the greatest egg there ever was...

And so began that particular mountain forest legend, one that will live in monkey lore until the end of time, known by me as The Monkey Who Would Be King, a cautionary tale that ends something like: "...and so there he was, up on the high branch, about to lord it over all the other monkeys, when he bit proudly at the not-egg, and chewed, and chewed and bit, and gnawed and chomped and snarled and screeched and stomped, pounding the thing against the trunk of the tree while swearing like a trooper. He went on thus for hours, even through the night, and that was just the beginning of his madness. He never did let go of the not-egg, until finally he fell out of the tree, dead of the starving madness, when another monkey took the not-egg from him, and so the legend lives on..."

Maybe one day, when monkeys have refrigerators...

Monday, June 19, 2006


One afternoon last week in the office as I half-mindedly searched my rucksack with one hand for the banana I was sure I'd brought, put it right about... here... in my bag this morning before leaving home, if I remember rightly... though 'remembering rightly' doesn't ring with the conviction it used to... as I say, I was searching - with waning certainty - for the banana with my left hand while keyboard-editing in diminishing certainty with my right...

I was in need of a quick shot of brain food, such as a banana, to overcome the incrementally mind-draining effects of late-afterlunch deep editing. I was locked in a downward syntactic spiral that continued descending, feeding on the hunger by which it plunged faster, because although I searched and searched again... must've been the day before yesterday I put that banana in the bag and if so I ate that on the same day, ergo yes, there is no banana...

So, back to steadily dimming two-fisted editing till the end of the work day, when with whatever intellect remained I went outside to go home and found that it was pouring rain in individually packaged macrodrenching units, so I expertly reached in to get my umbrella and pulled out the banana I always keep right at hand to open over my head in the event of sudden downpours.

Needless to say, the banana did not keep off the rain. I ignored the question that rose as hard as the rain fell upon my head: had I eaten my umbrella?

Saturday, June 17, 2006


In a photo I just noticed again on the wall and took down to dust off and study with older eyes - a snapshot sent me years ago by my first wife, who was then cleaning out her past - beneath a clear blue sky I stand long-haired, headbanded with the US flag on a Fire Island beach back in the late 1960s, full-bearded, wearing my mirror shades that did wonders when we canoed the Adirondack lakes of all those summers...

It is morning in the photo - sun behind me as I gaze inland - sky looks like early autumn, probably not long before we newlyweds both resigned our post-college professional jobs and took off in our blue-and-white VW bus-cum-road-residence for what looked like forever, to find what awaited us in the greater world...

In the photo I'm not much more than a silhouette, but my hair is still dark and thick, glowing with the wildfires of youth... Far in the bright distance are two tiny figures of the only other people on that long curving beach, who came there that day as we did (maybe that was even the very weekend she and I went to our bank on the Island and got a letter affirming that we had 3500 dollars in our account, to demonstrate our solvency to world immigration authorities). We went from that day through years and countries all around the world - separated soon after our return - divorced not long after that. Years ago now, how their number grows, on the other side from here...

The small far-away couple stands close together, maybe a mile from where my wife was photographing me in loving close-up; the shorter of the pair appears to be throwing something into the ocean as the taller one stands straight and watches... They are tiny blurs, as we were to them, as then is to now...

I wonder who they were, and who we were, what they tried to do with their lives from that day onward, as we tried - the waves washing in, endless arcs over amber sands never the same - maybe those two also took a photo...

Or is the smaller person turning away from the other? In fact, are they even together there, in that fading snapshot of 40 years ago?

Distances can be deceiving...


Out in the morning sun the small patch of dokudami that grows atop one of the compost heaps is now sending up those crisp white blossoms from its dusky elegance of green, reminding me with the precision of blossoms, taunting me with that beauty in the face of my lunkheaded, sweaty weedwhacking frenzy of Wednesday, in which for some feverish reason I whacked clear the classy patch of actually medicinal dokudami that was growing with soft lushness in the shadows beneath the weeping cherry, jinchoge and forsythia (and growing there harmlessly, it must be said, in my non-delirious, sunny Saturday state of mind)...

So there in the soft breeze they twinkle tortuously, those few ivory teasers, going inyerface... inyerface... humbling me as I should be humbled for what I have done, the beauty I have lost...


"Japan suffered a resounding defeat on Friday at the International Whaling Commission..."

For some reason a few Japanese really want to kill whales, but no one wants to eat them...


[Update: Japan will kill even more whales anyway.

"Over the next two years Japan plans to kill similar numbers of minkes plus 40 more fin whales and 50 humpbacks. Fin and humpbacks are classified as endangered by the commission.

Japanese inshore fishermen also kill thousands of dolphins and porpoises — including an estimated 10,000 Dalls dolphins alone — each year."

Friday, June 16, 2006


At evening the plum tree, green as it is in the fullness of its being, rich with new leaves and laden with ripening fruit, spreading out its limbs in verdant splendor beneath this breadth of sky, can do no more for today than begin to sing, sing at growing volume with all the tree frogs at its command, that live in its branches and in this way, as in others, pay rent.

All day long the tree stands as silently as trees do - apart from occasional whispers of conspiracy with the passing air - when abruptly and for no discernable reason other than some deep vegetative joy the tree begins to sing in a sort of froggy obbligato, back and forth, from leaf to leaf, in growing a cappella volume, until the overall tree is enticingly loud to one who happens to be seated in its shade sipping some chilled wine and is tempted to join in, using one's best chirping basso, at which point the tree falls embarrassingly silent.

Note to self: If you’re not a frog yet, shut up and listen.

Mick just posted Edifice Rex on TheBlog Brothers
--Stirs up some deep memories I'll be getting to anon...

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Some modern cultures are struggling with movie star childcare practices and bizarre political realities; other cultures couldn't care less, as long as they own the name of the cheese.

Japan too is embroiled in a cultural life and death struggle, as usual uniquely its own, at understanding the deep and growing hunger among the young and not so young, male and female alike, for... for... cuteness, something cute, anything, any old cute thing, even grotesquely cute, just find it, make it up if you have to, but fast, bring it here, popularize it quick, hurry up we're running out -- ahhh: that's cute.

And now it seems the nation itself is beginning to look analytically at the phenomenon.

It's always nice to be prescient. I did a little ramble about 20 years ago on a certain aspect of Japan I found even in its early stages to be somewhat pathological in its intensity:

“This terminal cuteness, that is eating at the vitals of the country, sapping its very lifeblood, is nothing like the vacant Western cuteness of anguished clowns painted on velvet, or weeping ragamuffins with stylized cowlicks and eyes as big as dinner plates; it is even more relentless than the corrosive kitschy cuteness that is burying mad collectors in matching salt and pepper shakers; it supersedes the Disney cuteness of sexless animals yearning for their mothers, it is cute with a big C, a big U, a big T, a big E, in bold and throbbing hi-glo pink neon letters underlined in red and gold, with heart-shaped fireworks going off behind it and a background medley of the cutest melodies of the decade...”

Since then it's been getting relentlessly cuter around here...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Whoever that Ann Coulter person is, she sure seems to be making big bucks off the widows of those 9/11 husbands.


In Osaka and Kyoto, the following films...

OSAKA -- Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land: U.S. Media & the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

KYOTO -- President Mir Qanbar [Re'ees Jomhoor Mir Qanbar]

When: (Osaka) Monday, June 26, from 7:00 p.m.
Arabic, French, Hebrew & English
with English subtitles
(Kyoto) Tuesday, June 27, from 7:00 p.m.
Persian with English subtitles

Where: (Osaka) The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Umeda, Osaka
(Kyoto) Tadg's Irish Pub, near Keihan Shijo Sta.
(doors open at 5 p.m., both venues)

Admission: FREE (500-yen donation appreciated from
US citizens)

Assorted foods and drinks are available.

Dems Japan

Dems Japan Event calendar (for more movie etc. details)


"But Japan has done all the work. It marks the climax of a 10-year campaign of using substantial foreign aid packages to persuade small countries - often with no whaling tradition, or even a coastline - to join the IWC and vote on the Japanese side. While the world has been looking the other way, the pro-Japan vote has built up over the years towards a controlling figure.

Japan's 51 per cent majority... will enable it to make major changes in the IWC, such as stopping all its conservation work, stopping all discussions of animal welfare in relation to whaling, promoting the trade in whale products and reshaping the organisation in a more pro-whaling fashion."

"Japan buys votes to take control of whaling body"

"Hereby perhaps Stubb indirectly hinted, that though man loved his fellow, yet man is a money-making animal, which propensity too often interferes with his benevolence."
---Herman Melville

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


As an intrepid gardener I've always been sharply aware of the vast and constant hunger that is out there in the world, all the mouths there are to help feed with my feeble husbandry, mouths that will be fed whether I like it or not, and I usually don't. But when I went out to the garden just now to get some lettuce for my lunchtime salad, I couldn't help but be pleased at how much the little black and big green caterpillars love my mizuna and how rapidly they have manifested that love, to say nothing of their fattening delight that I was so kind as to plant such a delectable vegetable on their behalf. Like a tableful of hungry children, their gratitude was pretty nearly audible. I think if I could have safely held my ear right down there I would have heard the heartfelt crunch of larval joy. My mizuna must truly have been of the highest quality. Plus it was organic, which caterpillars appreciate.

I wasn't able to taste it for myself, though, since the colorful little gourmets, having instantly polished off the arugula (because I took all the radishes) scarfed every bit of the mizuna green parts in just the last day or two, leaving only the pale, naked leaf stalks sticking up in bunches like bleached punk hairspikes tipped with beads of big fat green and little fat black caterpillars, still hanging on to get the last little motes and quivering visibly at the prospect of crisp new lettuce just a short crawl away.

It wasn't very polite of me to act like a big fat caterpillar, but I took all the lettuce I wanted and ate it as though someone else had grown it for me.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Kyoto Journal #63


"We provide audio access to literary works for anyone with a reading access barrier. Talented volunteers record magazine articles and other short works which are then available for download or in our podcast. There are over 800 recordings from magazines like The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and Wired."

Assistive Media

Save the Net

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Yesterday we timed our entire day so as to arrive at Hotaru (Firefly) Grove on time. I call it Hotaru Grove because it has no name. Oddly, it's not distinguished at all by the fact that it's the best hotaru-viewing place around. Nominally, it's just part of the charmingly named Moriyama City Exercise Park. Ah, the sensitive nuances of bureaucracy...

Because we live up on the mountain with streams all around (some of them even natural!) we still have a few hotaru each summer, but in a corner of Moriyama City Exercise Park there is a stream whose deepish bed meanders as of old through an original grove of tall trees, creating the perfect dark, humid and protected place for hotaru to propagate, survive and show their stuff for 10 days each summer amidst the metropolization of everything.

According to the history explained in the little hotaru museum they have there, even back when this area was still rural it was famous for its hotaru. Folks used to come from the big cities to catch thousands of the flying lanterns each day, to watch sparkle in their homes and gardens at night.

Last time we went to Hotaru Grove, three years ago with Kaya, it was pretty crowded, but this time it was like all the roads to Woodstock. There was even a Hotaru Park and Ride system available. Traffic jams everywhere, as hotaru fans from all over tried to get to the last weekend of the light concert.

We found a spot about a kilometer away and dodged insane cars in search of parking as we wended our way toward the mobs pilgrimaging through the dark, tiny flashlights here and there going down into the streambed and nudging along the special ramps built there for the purpose, the air filled with swooping flashes of pale green light from fireflies who couldn't care less about the crowds, they were head over thorax in love. Some of the folks in the shuffling mob tried to take flash photos(!) of the hotaru flashing, outromancing the hotaru and blinding everyone else seeking those tiny lights in the dark.

One of the folks in the little hotaru museum told us that last week was the peak (the light concert only lasts about 10 days), when one night they counted 150 hotaru, many fewer than last year (and the year we went there). After watching the museum video on the life cycle of hotaru, it's a wonder there are any of the little lanterns left at all.

And judging by the thousands of folks woodstocking through the dark and the madly weaving cars so that their kids could catch just a glimpse of the maybe few dozen hotaru that used to be so plentiful (agricultural toxins and urbanization are killing them off), those swooping flashes of pale green light at the heart of night may be about to go out forever...

Saturday, June 10, 2006


"By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

'The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google... are going to have to pay taxes' to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change 'the Internet for the rest of eternity.'"

Why am I not surprised.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Pioneer Liberty Link corn was bioengineered to withstand high levels of the toxic herbicide glufosinate so that farmers could blast their corn fields with way more herbicide (enzymes in the GM corn break down the herbicide, making it less toxic to the plant), devastating surrounding weeds, but not corn consumers. At all. As far as we knew. Until yesterday or so.

Turns out that (and believe me, Dupont is just flabbergasted; they might even change the name of the corn) "enzymes in the human gut are likely 'reactivating' the herbicide... Glufosinate is known to cause nerve damage and is a likely endocrine disruptor. Scientists are also concerned that by reactivating the toxic chemical in the digestive tract, it is likely killing off beneficial bacteria necessary for healthy digestion." [from OCA newsletter]

If you've been having strange symptoms...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


One day the paddies are all brown stubble
then one day they're all water
then one day they whisper green
then one day they're all jade blades
then one day they're tall green banners
swaying in the wind
then one day they bend
and feed us all


"The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility: (a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing; ...Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.”


I wonder how much of this election is being tallied by Diebold...

:::Later: Ostensibly, Ann Coulter's party won the gerrymandered seat, but--

It turns out that, yes indeed, the "Race to Replace [jailed for corruption GOP] Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham in San Diego Was Run on Hackable Diebold Voting Machines, Kept Unsecured at Poll Worker Houses Overnight Before the Election!"

(Diebold voting machines are Republican-built!)

Certainly no fishier than Florida or Ohio...


This morning a loud and pointed monkey argument in the garden, probably over a lack of onions, woke me from a vivid dream in which I was just then telling Bill O'Reilly that he should bottle his program and sell it as rat poison...

Dreams can be as incisive as monkey arguments.

Monday, June 05, 2006


As a person who is not yet radioactive, I feel that the primary approach to resolving Japan's energy problems should involve lifestyle simplification and education, coupled with all-out support for research and development of alternative clean energy sources.

But then my thoughts are affected by the facts that the Japanese government, the world's longest single-party rule, is enthralled by nuclear power (a bottomless public works pork barrel), that tiny Japan has the third most nuclear power plants in the world (53, after the US and France [Addendum, July 2007: now second in the world, with 55]), that Japan is one of the most earthquake prone nations on earth and that of those 53 quietly seething nuclear facilities, 13 (and 2 in planning) are clustered together on the Japan Sea coast within a few dozen kilometers of my house. And immediately upwind of 30 million other people.

The extent to which the use of nuclear power in Japan depends on public ignorance and corporate-government callousness is apparent in these two articles:

"Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list.

When I asked ERC [Emergency Response Center] officials how they planned to evacuate millions of people from Shizuoka Prefecture and beyond after a Kobe-magnitude earthquake (Kobe is on the same subduction zone as Hamaoka) destroyed communication lines, roads, railroads, drinking-water supplies and sewage lines, they had no answer."


"It was clear that most Commission members were either pro-nuclear or felt that to encourage spirited discussion of basic issues like the necessity of nuclear power was not part of their mandate. After all, they had a five-year plan for Japan's nuclear power industry that they had to compile by late 2005, and since nuclear power was already providing about a third of the nation's electric power needs overall, what was the point in arguing with people who didn't want it? The result of the meeting was not a lighthearted farce, but something that looked as rigged as a pro wrestling match.

And so it was. Just a few weeks later, on November 12th, the Atomic Energy Commission released an interim report on nuclear fuel recycling and concluded that it should go forward. Virtually none of the facts presented by the anti-nuclear activists were acknowledged. But when it comes to Japan's nuclear power industry, inconvenient facts often do not matter."

Am I glowing yet?

Saturday, June 03, 2006


"For more than two decades Japan's addiction to disposable chopsticks has been the ultimate indication of its success. What other Asian nation, runs the unspoken boast, can afford to throw away 25 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks every year after only a single use?"

When disposable chopsticks is a symbol of national growth, maybe it's time to review your symbols and your national growth...

"...the Japanese company that makes plastic chopsticks, has had some very lean years but has doubled production to 2 million pairs a year, and is anticipating an increase in sales if Japanese can overcome their prejudice about using chopsticks that have been in other people's mouths. 'There are going to be people who object even when they know the chopsticks have been washed properly,' a spokesman said. 'It's a sort of mental problem.'"

Bet this is related to the lack of ice cream flavors...

Chopstick tussle adds bite to Orient's diplomatic spat


A few evenings ago I sprayed Aphid Vegas with the wormwood, garlic and chili insecticide I'd received from a friend, but being at work during the daylight since, had to wait till this morning to observe the devastating effect on the sybaritic orgy; I got quite a surprise.

As I bent over to look closely, I beheld not Aphid Armageddon but the Aphid Riviera, crowded with plump and prosperous aphids strolling the leafy avenues or lolling in thongs and shades on the sunny green beaches of my broadbean plants, reading Da Aphid Code as their fat ant overlords moved among them, hustling production for their next blockbuster. It was aphid decadence, and as beanlord I am at a loss. All my natural insecticide has done is get the ants stretch limos and the aphids designer beachwear and bestsellers.

Its not that I want zero aphids, or even aphid ghettos, we all have to make a decent living and support a family. What I would like to do is maybe start an aphid revolution, in which the green underlings overthrow the despotic ants and start a small but prosperous community of their own, with their own leaders - ethnic roots are important - so that they can find their own place to live, other than in broadbean tyranny. But as in the human world, the plump do not revolt.

I know the ants defend the whole racket as a trade off, but it's just the old protection racket writ small; that's how Mussolini got his start, to say nothing of the mafia... As for the ants, they can get jobs anywhere. Anybody have some aphid propaganda on tape, some tiny loudspeakers? Or maybe I could airdrop some nanoleaflets and nanoarmaments, foment an aphid resistance, headquartered in a mountain stronghold of noxious weeds across the road.

But all that takes time. First I want my beans.

Friday, June 02, 2006


It's been quite a few centuries, but now, thanks to Japanese forensics, Mona and Leonardo can talk...

Though it probably won't be a pleasant conversation, since he never returned the painting...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I've never seen any hikari dorodango [shiny mudballs] in schoolkids' hands around here, or noted students comparing the lusters of their orbs on the train, I'm sure I would have noticed an increased incidence of mudballs in my vicinity. The local mud couldn't be inferior; it's used to make world-renowned pottery... The whole thing is very mysterious...

"Inside his office at the university, Kayo keeps a dorodango in a wooden box, wrapped in cloth. The shiny ball of dried mud is eight centimeters (about three inches) in diameter and is amber colored with a touch of dark green. Professor Kayo developed his own scale for measuring a dorodango's luster, and this one rates a '4.' The shiniest dorodango rates a '5,' and Kayo keeps one of these at home."

If you happen to have some suitable mud lying around and want to make an advanced-level mudball of your own...


The suited commuter on a bicycle coming directly toward you at high speed out of the morning rush hour crowd on the narrow Osaka sidewalk deeply bowing his head to atone for the offense of seeming to be about to impose extreme physical violence on your person before at the last instant zipping expertly under the impinging stairwell and around the jutting street sign while as the other expert in this exchange you have made no reflexive moves in the face of this potential threat to your life so as to enable all to occur with the utmost fluidity