Thursday, 29 July 2010

Donuts, @jakeadelstein and everything: It's all connected

Our Man is being de-briefed as we speak in Blighty, but he just thought he would break radio silence to say: everything is connected.

There was Our Man not 50 minutes ago making a cup of tea in Our Little Sister's Victorian terrace, about to tuck into a Krispy Kreme donut for breakfast, when the wireless in the kitchen picked up BBC Radio 4 and the nasal tones of Jake Adelstein (OK, an actor doing his best Jake Adelstein turn) reading bits from his Tokyo Vice book about how to cultivate contacts in the police force.

Anyway, gotta go buy some shoes.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Google: Press # key if you are human



There was Our Man, innocently trying to set up two more email addresses at Google in his homemade virtual secret society (talking about mysteries wrapped in enemas - hands up anyone who has made it past the first five paragraphs of the Washington Post's word-athon on how the US government is drowning in too many words?) when the Google Homeland Security-bots intercepted him and told him that they wanted to make sure he was human.

Prick him, does he not bleed?

They wanted his phone number so they could phone him up. Our Man, being essentially, how you say, an idiot, filled in the boxes and verily did The Voice of Google speak a code unto him. On the third time of asking. But being a human being, Our Man missed the first digit of the computerised voice that assailed him, and therefore messed up the login and he was frozen out of the process for 24 hours.

So let's get this straight, Google. You want to protect your email from bots, by using automated phone bots and penalising Our Man when he behaves like the bumbling human that he is. Which proves your case for you. How has it come to pass that the only way we can prove our humanity is by acting like a computer?

Our Man was going to click on the complaint button, but of course, it said complaints were not individually answered, just used as general guides to improving the service. Bot-speak for "Up yours loser human, you're on your own."

Anyway, seems we can only hate one mega-successful tech company at a time. Not so long ago it was the evil Microsoft, then it was the all knowing Google, then Facebook and now it's the all seeing iPhone4 of the Apple of Steve Jobs iThing (ed. - please sort this, thnx).

Well, all Our Man says is:

Watch your bots, people.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Japanese media consumption. No naked ladies here, no siree



Here's a fascinating little poll over at a former OMIA Blog of the Week winner into what media the Japanese use. Now, Our Man doesn't believe in polls, he reckons on a good day, they test what people say they do, not what they actually do. Like Question 5 on what folk use the internet for:


Er, call Our Man a dirty old ex-hack, but where's the Look at naked ladies option? That must be the "other" column accounting for 1.7% of PC users. Yes, that must be it.

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Moby Dick approach to information overload

A few random thoughts for you all before Our Man's bedtime:

1. It's bloody hot here in downtown Abiko. It was 35 degrees and Allah knows what humidity today. At night, it drops to 29 or so. Whoopee. And Our Man has no air conditioner in his bedroom.
2. That's what Asahi Super Dry was invented for.
3. Man, that Washington Post special on The Secret
Society is LONG. Now, OK, it's serious hardhitting and important and all, but even Our Man, who likes that kind of stuff, can't devote more than 15 minutes to the paper in tbe morning before his eyes glaze over and/or his kids start kicking the crap out of each other. Maybe his reading speed isn't what it was, but a double page spread single story with two titchy pics is too much even for him.
4. It reminds him of college and The Great American Novel. Sitting in class wondering how best to get noticed by the good looking girl and all the while having to fake having read the Big One. Ahab might disagree, but size isn't everything.
5. You kind of lose the battle slagging the information overload that the security state has created when you overload the reader with, er, information overload.
6. If Our Man were the Man at the Japan Times, he'd keep it to two 1,000-word stories and link to the detailed stuff for the policy wonkers on the net.
7. Leaving more space for Third World Tinpot Dictator Independence Day celebrations that we readers of the English language press in Japan love so much.
8. Yes, that would be better.
9. Never mind folks, the US can't keep throwing good money after bad at the military contractors. Can they? We'd all get madder than hell and not take it anymore. We might elect a President who promised to stop the war. Oh.
10. That's what Asahi Super Dry was invented for.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Stigma1, Squiggle1, Chosen1? Whatever. This is your lifetime achievement award



And lo, tis time for another Blog of the Week. Now, he hasn't actually blogged this week, but
consider this a belated lifetime achievement award for the chap. He popped up in Our Man's consciousness during the dog days of last summer when he impressed with his knowledge of top totty in the Japanese General Election (his code name was Soma). Our Man had been reluctant to name him as a field agent on the right there, because:

a) He's smarter than Our Man
b) He's got one of those swanky wordpress blogs with
clean lines layout and CREATIVE USE OF WHITE SPACE and all that
c) He's got an unpronounceable blog name with one of those symbols like the artist formerly known as Thing.

But in his favour:

All of the above.

Welcome to the firm, Unpronounceable Squiggle Blog1, you can never leave.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Lucky crystal balls and what's the score with Twitter?



What, four whole days and no blog post? Well, Our Man has been busy with lucky weight loss charms and near deaf experiences (Our Woman in Abiko managed to stuff a crystal into her eardrum while asleep, but three doctors later, she lived to tell the tale, hearing intact. Funnily enough she did lose about a kilo in weight, though from worry. Guess crystals work in mysterious ways).

But also, this blog has been understaffed because the intern, Ourmani Nabiko, nipped out to make the tea for the boys at Tokyo Digital Journalism. While he was there, he wrote this post for them too. It's all about Twitter and Japan and the World Cup and newspapers, so has no place at a blog like this one. There were a few typos and he forgot to put in the final score, but be gentle with the lad, he's still learning.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

When you're tired of @DrSamuelJohnson ...

Our Man enjoyed it at firste, but the @DrSamuelJohnson twitterfeed is getting most tiresome and in-jokey and theretofore shall forthwithe be removethed from the blogge.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Japan election: Big loss for the DPJ? Cobblers

I say, I'm most terribly sorry, but...



Our Man doesn't get it.

Read the press, check the blogs or, like Our Man, just read a tweet or two and blag the rest, but was this Big Lection the End of Days for the DPJ that everyone is screaming? To be fair, this chap ain't screaming, but he does capture the gist, that the DPJ lost big time; read between the lines of the Gomiuri and you'd figure all is lost for progressive politics in this backwater of people power; the sooner Japan gets back to making railroads and forgets this whole Experiment with Democracy the better for the advanced states that Know Democracy. Like Arizona.

Hold on a mo.

1. This is a frigging midterm election for the Upper House of Whatsits. If it were the day in the life of a truck stop it would be equivalent to deciding whether to have peach or apple cobbler with your meat loaf and grits.
2. Ruling parties always lose seats in midterm elections, in any country you care to mention outside hermit states (North Korea and Mississippi).
3. Japan just had the most ineffectual leader since, er, well the last one, and the DPJ severely cocked up just about everything.
4. And still, the ruling DPJ lost just 10 seats of the 54 it had up for grabs. It didn't even have the majority before, so it didn't lose its majority, and it is still the single biggest party with 106 seats to the Dark Side's 84.

OK, passing anything will be a hassle, but it was going to be anyway under this lot, so what's really changed?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Japanese election live streaming like a bat, you know

No, not here. Here. J-Politics is streaming like a bat pissing in the night - filling the dark with its radiantness. Monty Python said it better, but they knew less about J-politics than these learned folk.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Japan Election: Screw the octopus, it'll be 2-0 to the DPJ



Not only is it the World Cup final tomorrow, but Japan also goes to the polls. You want a prediction? Well, all the talk is of whether Paul the Octopus has called it right (Spain). However (that means "but" for folk who get paid by the inch - ed) readers of this blog come here for the J-politics. Yawn. So here's Our Man's focus-group prediction:

The DPJ will win whatever they need (54 seats in the Upper House elections?) to wrestle power from the octopus of indifference (see what Our Man did there? And he doesn't even get paid for this shit).

Our Man's focus group at the izakaiya comprised Our Two Daughters in Abiko, Our Woman in Abiko and Our Mother-in-Law in Abiko. The two daughters were at least aware something was going on tomorrow, and Our Woman, nonpartisan lady that she is, thought she'd probably vote DPJ. But the key is Our Mother-In-Law. A 68-year-old Yomiuri-reader who has voted LDP all her life, including for Aso last time round, was going to switch to the DPJ. Why?

The one thing she credited the DPJ with was their war on graft and the bureaucrats. Sure, they may be ineffectual and hardly very pure themselves, but at least they were trying - on prime time TV. And that was good enough for her to vow never to vote LDP again.

So, Our Man calls it DPJ 2-0 LDP.

Pass the tako-yaki.

Pic lifted from here.

If you want a longer (better) post about The Lections try here, Mr. Top Cat has a new scratching post. And while you are waiting for the World Cup Final, why not join Our Man as he dips his toes in Trans Pacific Radio's Election Night stream.

69 and other thoughts for bedtime

1. Our Youngest Daughter in Abiko: "Dad, why do we keep growing?"
2. "Mum, will you still be able to speak English when you are a
Grandma?"
3. If you want to clean out the yakuza from sumo, you could start by
making gambling on sports entirely legal.
4. Just started reading Ryu Murakami's 69 from the library.
5. There was a great throwaway line that a US military base was in the
best location in the city, but then in Japan they are always in the
best locations.
6. Our Man is the proud owner of two Okinawa T-shirts, though hasn't
been there even once.
6.5 Ryu Murakami uses mixed up font sizes to emphasise words, just
like Our Man when he's not on his mobile.
7. Goodnight.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Is Our Man breaking the law?



Our Man is confused. Granted, that's not unusual, but he's still a bit foggier than usual about whether he is facing two years in a Japanese clink or not. See, according to Yuri Kageyama's Associated Press piece here, now the official campaign is on for the Upper House of Whatsits, he can't be blogging and tweeting about the election.

That is, candidates and voters are not ALLOWED to tweet or blog in favour of one candidate or another. This apparently does not apply to newspapers who have blogs and twits galore, because otherwise they'd have to print middle-of-the-road pieces about nothing of any significance. And we all know, they'd never do that.

But, m'lud, Our Man is neither a candidate nor a voter in this fair land. That's probably no defence. He still has to pay taxes, even if he is denied any say in how they are spent.

Well, just to be on the safe side, Our Man will not endorse any one candidate over another, instead he would very harmoniously (waaaaaaaaaaaa) advocate NOT VOTING FOR ANY OF THEM. The LDP are evil spent forces, and the DPJ are ineffectual Yankee doodlers who are about to complete their morphification into LDP lite.

Is Our Man breaking the law if he says: "Don't vote for a single last one of 'em" ????

Also, who's to say Our Man didn't file this post from his Top Secret invisible catamaran that he has stocked with Leicester cheese and leggy blondes that he keeps permanently floating in international waters?

And, anyway, these flesh and bone chaps here and here would die of a broken heart if they couldn't blog about the elections. Don't see why a secret agent silhouette lifted from a fancy dress shop can even do hard labour (unless it's typing up advertorials for the Tokyo English shimbuns extolling the virtues of Venezuela and its little tinpot dictator that could).

Anyway, Our Man wouldn't vote for any of 'em, even if he could.

If that means Our Man has to do virtual time, then lend him a dime for his phone call, he's promised first refusal on his story to one Martyn Williams.

Who knew that 14,306 folk (at the time of going to press) would want to watch a homemade karaoke version of Breaking the Law? That's the real story here, people.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

BTW, the Japan Times back page was awesome today

Yes, regulars may think Our Man has it in for the JT, but he really doesn't. And just to prove it, he'd like to state for the record, something positive about the back page today.

Good job.

Preview to tonight's game? Analysis of who might lift the Cup? A what-went-wrong for Brazil and Argentina?

Youbetcha on all counts. All it needed was a compromising pic of the great Silverback Maradona kissing an Argie bloke, and the page would have had it all.

Wait, it did?

Well done, ya checked all Our Man's boxes.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Tokyo Digital Revolution will be televised (when they figure out where the video 'on' button is)



Now here's an interesting blog. Seems to be a project between Tokyo freelancer and beard expert Richard Smart and the non-dancing digi-journo Rick Martin.

Not sure what the boys are up to, but looks like it has potential. It has often struck Our Man that since the means of production (the virtual printing press) are in the hands of the oppressed proletariat (that would be Mr Smart in this instance, work with me here, OK?) the capitalist powers that be (the Yomiuri et al) have a revolution on their hands.

If the boys on the barricades can just figure out how to get paid for their efforts, the revolution will be unstoppable. But you guys might want to consider setting your digicam to video mode. Just a minor quibble.

Our Man has high enough hopes, he's gonna name Tokyo Digital Journalism Blog of the Week. TDJ wins... placement as an OMIA Field Agent on the right there.

So keep the posts coming boys, Abiko is watching you.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Space-time continuum 1; Japan Times 0



Our Man didn't really expect a reply - he's noticed that editors (and Vulcans) don't seem to take sarcasm seriously - from the Japan Times sports desk, but he really has to wonder what's going on.

Yes, they've led the back pages with World Cup news every day now, as logic demands, and while Our Man could quibble whether leading with two-day old match reports is more useful to readers than previews of upcoming games, this morning the JT saw fit to lead with a preview of the Holland-Brazil game.

Let Our Man run that through the transcorder for folk whose brains are accustomed to move at the tortoiselike speed of office politics and not at the warp factor speed of real life:

The game was yesterday. It finished 2-1 to Holland at 1am. My copy of the Japan Times arrived this morning at 4am or so. It featured a preview of what to expect in the game. The game which had finished. That anyone with any interest in the World Cup has already watched.

Now Our Man will grant you that the JT and any newspaper with an absurdly early evening deadline for a morning paper, can't hope to keep up with, how you say, The News, but...

If you are going to preview a game, make sure it appears before the game, not after it.

Speaking of previews, howabout one to the Argentina-Germany game tonight? Nowhere in the JT. Do you want people to buy the paper or not? I'm thinking not.

Hey, howabout a preview of McCain's chances of beating Obama in 08? I reckon that Aso could give Hatoyama a run for his money too.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

And briefly, back to the footy

"It's OK, but you could see the ending coming a mile off."

Secret handshake to Roberto de Vido of www.politicomix.blogspot.com
fame.