Monday, 28 February 2011

FUNNY ANALOGY TO JAPANESE POLITICS GOES HERE

While it goes against everything that Our Man stands for (that Japan isn't so different from everywhere else; only post stuff about Japanese politicians being crap; journos being crap; and drunken top 10 lists) darn it, this video had him and Our Woman in Abiko in stitches. Enjoy.

Friday, 25 February 2011

CUT 'N' PASTE JOURNOS: HERE IS YOUR NEMISIS


One of the many moans of journos and their long-suffering readers is the PR news release that gets regurgitated as news. Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can now just cut and paste any part of a suspect article (Oh, the irony) into the search engine of Churnalism.com and it will instantly compare the potentially offending article with the news release, giving you a blow-by-blow take on whether it's original journalism or regurgitated shite like The Mail was guilty of above.

Tee hee. Hours of fun, but watch out fellow journos, you'd better reword those cut n pasted masterpieces.

But don't take Our Man's word for it, try it out here yourself.

Sadly, only compares to British databases. Just imagine if it could compare Japanese articles? But Our Man is sure none of them are churned out of Nagatacho. Well, certainly not by oiky things like press releases, traceable to the under vice minister for stuff huh?

BTW, anyone know what happened to the plans for opening up the kisha press clubs? Haven't read anything about it in the Yomiuri recently.

Secret handshake to The Media Blog.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

GADDAFI, QUADDAFI, DAFFY DUCK - WHOEVER, MY ROLE IN HIS DOWNFALL




It's always a dangerous thing to begin writing something when you don't know where you are going with it, or in fact, why on earth you are putting keystroke to blogpost when you really should be in bed. Even more dangerous to admit that in the first paragraph, BUT (you knew there was a but coming there, didn't you?) like Haruki Murakami says, it's hard to know what to think until you've written it down. So here goes an attempt to think a few things through. Bear with me, or (If Our Man were you) nip off somewhere more fun.

1. How come we're all anti-Gaddafi now? Sure, he's a despot with the taste of Elton John that we can all laugh at now. Tee hee what a fool. We let him rule the place since 1969. Tee hee. Who are the fools again?
2. Our Man has no religion, but he does have a mantra. Treat those less fortunate than yourself with respect; those more fortunate with contempt.
3. This does in fact work better in reverse, in the realm of, er, measurable success.
4. Our Man is well aware that no-one sane or not legally documentedly related to him is remotely interested in his struggles with His Novel but, dammit, he's halfway through the last chapter and then the first draft is done.
5, Then the hard work begins. The secret of writing is drinking. Er, re-drinking.
6. It's downhill all the way to 10 now.
7. Our Man is going to do his utmost to flog his novel through regular (ie dying publishing industry) channels, but if (when) he has no luck, he'll self-publish it on a T-shirt or something.
8. Then he'll be free to focus on important shit.
9. Like this blog.
10. Or something.
11. Hey, howabout that Kan and Ozawa? It's not just Lib'ya wot's ungubernatorial.

Vive La Revolucion!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

... BUT THIS IS PRETTY SOBERING

A video of protesters in Bahrain being gunned down. Not comfortable viewing. Secret handshake to @shinpuren, methinks.

REVOLUTION ELSEWHERE; THE POEM



Drinking Chimay blue
Helps me construct a narrative
About the revolutions spreading through
The Arab lands that they want FREEDOM.
But it's equally possible too
They've got sod all else to do,
And nothing left to lose
Now that they can't watch YouTube.

Ourmani of Abiko (age 7)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

KAN FLOUNDERS AS OZAWA GOES FISHING



Well the normally shambolic Japanese government is now in even more of a shambles as Ozawa (remember him?) has spat or is about to spit his dummy out, and 16 DPJ members have decided to vote separately from the government or not or something. Our Man can't keep up, but he knows two things:

1. The 16 rebellious MPs will no doubt be christened "16 samurai" because that's the collective noun for Japanese MPs. That, or a babble of wusses.

2. Janne down in Osaka can explain it a whole bunch better.

Wow. Tunisa, Egypt, now Japan. Is no government sacred?

LEAKED POST FROM HILLARY - THE EDITOR'S CUT



It's probably not a good idea coming at the Egypt Question from the dregs of a 7-11 Chilean red, but in the interests of balance, Our Man has unscrewed a white... (Yes, it's probably not, I've taken my green pen to point out some inconsistencies you should correct before publishing - ed.)

Anyway. Very rarely there is that stunning moment of clarity when you catch a glimpse of the reality behind the facade and it forever more shapes your perceptions of people. Our Man is thinking the time Thatcher was cornered on Nationwide by a voter over the sinking of the Belgrano; the Collateral Murder video; and Gascoigne's goal against Scotland.

Well, Our Man was pretty sure he was witnessing something of the same as the Egyptians rose up as one to say to hell with the tyrant and his secret police and damn the consequences. Pretty damn cool. And of course Our Man like to do his bit, professing admiration on his blog and maybe, just maybe, retweeting a tweet from an earnest blogger in Egypt or two. Because that's the least he can do.

Shame it takes a horror like this to be reminded that mouthing off in Abiko is not the same at all as risking all for the story in Cairo.

But still, the intercontinental interconnectedness of the internet gives Our Man the illusion of affecting events the other side of the world. But he's learning. This time round, Our Man didn't have to change colours or stick an inverted pyramid on his avatar to prove his bona fides to the cause. But while Our Man can't take personal satisfaction in his role in the Egyptian uprising, maybe the fact that Egyptians believed the Greater Abiko Co-Prosperity Sphere was watching emboldened them and weakened Mubarak. Hope so. But there is the nagging problem of the country still being under the thumb of the military (this would be Egypt, not the USA?).

Thank the Yanks for the internet, huh, the bringer of all things free and good and righteous (and pornographic? - ed). So, illusions and reality. Brings Our Man back to moments of clarity. Like this simply stunning call from our very own freedom fighter Hillary Clinton. Some highlights:

There is no silver bullet in the struggle against Internet repression. (I'd heard that truth was quite good against bullshit)

There's no 'app' for that. (Have you tried Al Jazeera's free one for the iphone? It's quite good).

Those who clamp down on Internet freedom may be able to hold back the full impact of their people's yearnings for a while, but not forever (Very true. Ask Rupert Murdoch how the whole paywall thing is working out for him).

Leaders worldwide have a choice to make (F-16 or drone?) They can let the Internet in their countries flourish, and take the risk that the freedoms it enables will lead to a greater demand for political rights (and porn). Or they can constrict the Internet, choke the freedoms it naturally sustains, and risk losing all the economic and social benefits that come from a networked society (Justin Bieber)

Our allegiance to the rule of law does not dissipate in cyberspace, neither does our commitment to protecting civil liberties and human rights.

(Er, well not completely true, since Hillary's lawyers were going after private messages from supporters of WikiLeaks on the day of the speech. You know WikiLeaks - the publicly vilified, commercially prosecuted internet whistle-blower civil liberties, human rights group exposing folks breaking the rule of law?)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Working on a proper post for here, but can't pull it out the hat tonight. Got that going on; a secret mission for Our Man's colonial cousins; helping out some blogging folks in Tokyo; and writing a novel. But between all that, if you must have something, there is this. A scrapbook that Our Man is keeping. It's not much of anything at the mo, and probably won't be in the future, and that's the way it should be. But if you want to pop by, go with Our Man's blessing.

Friday, 11 February 2011

DOES ANYONE NOT HAVE A BOOK OUT ABOUT WIKILEAKS?



Apart from Our Man that is. Mind you, his memory is not what it used to be. He may have written something to cash in on the whole deal already. He will be keeping a close eye on his Swiss bank account to see if any royalties are forthcoming. He is also hoping for a buyout from Arianna Huffington. Speaking of which, here's a great explanation of the Wikikeaks Phenomenon. De doo de doo. Right on her site here. (Arianna - she put the "intern" in "internet").

Anyway, a few thoughts about Wikileaks and stuff before bed:

1. Is it just Our Man, or does the mere mention of Wikileaks turn people off? Just typing the word on the title of post guarantees to reduce hits by 50 percent (Hah, but Our Man has fooled the spooks again - 50% of nothing is still nothing. Yeah!).
2. Call it SEO if you like, but feels like mentioning Wikileaks on your blog is akin to using the "C" word in the presence of Americans. You won't make many friends.
3. Are folk scared of it (Wikileaks not the, er, never mind)? Are they bored with it? Is it too uncomfortable a concept - you know, that governments - our governments - routinely lie and backstab? Or is it too boring a truism to give a damn about anymore?
4. It's Assange's hair, isn't it?

Meanwhile, as the last of the feeling in Our Man's fingertips deserts him, Egyptians have no qualms about putting their lives and livelihoods on the line for such naive notions of openness, democracy and, it looks like tonight at least, results.

Anyway, here's a great video debunking UFO nuts, care of Lance of Twitter.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

MOSCOW AIRPORT TERROR ATTACK: THE ABIKO CONNECTION



This little story about Russian terrorism and modern news gathering is quite run of the mill these days, but that in itself is amazing to Our Man...

So, Our Man was chatting to an elderly neighbour (regular readers will recall there are only two types of neighbour in Abiko - a) elderly and b) elderly with dog. This neighbour was of the former variety) who had popped off to Moscow for a holiday, as you do these days.*

Our Man heard about the terrorist bombing of the Moscow international airport thanks to some smart arses (the best kind of arse) joking on twitter about how hard-arse the Russkies were for opening the airport 3 hours after the attack. (Think we've seen quite enough of your arses for one day - ed.)

But our Man never thought his neighbour was involved.

She was in the airport on the same day and same time as it happened. Her life was only saved because two of the folk in her tour group couldn't find their suitcases, so everyone was hanging around baggage reclaim, waiting to go through customs and passport control.

There she was thinking about the ballet show she was hoping to catch and wondering if she had enough time to nip to the toilets when there was an explosion.

It was on the other side of the customs barrier, 40 meters away. Plaster and dust fell from the ceiling. People stopped what they were doing and just looked. What was it? Construction? An accident? Couldn't have been a bomb, could it?

She couldn't see, and no information was forthcoming. So she got out her mobile phone and texted her son back in Abiko. (She doesn't own a smart phone, she's elderly, remember?)

Her son, texted her straight back. He didn't know anything about it. But he promised to find out. He searched the internet and got an answer: A terrorist bomb attack - 30 dead.

He then texted his Mum in Moscow. She then told her fellow tour group what was going on.

All within a matter of minutes.

Wow.

For young folks, this little story is no doubt unremarkable. But for Our Man, who lived through the days of the Cold War when not only did every sensible person believe that nuclear war would happen between the Ruskies and the Yanks in their lifetime, but people subscribed to two daily newspapers. Unbelievable.

To go from that world to this in a matter of a decade or so still freaks Our Man out.

*Thank goodness the whole Japan-still-being-at-war-with-Russia thing is just a technicality. I mean, let's not allow a minor detail like that interfere with tourism.

Friday, 4 February 2011

CUTE JAPAN/AKA FRY, COME HERE AND WE'LL SMASH YOUR FACE IN



Seems Stephen Fry AKA "the Quizmaster" who dared to chair a comedy show featuring jokes about the A-bomb and British Rail (the cad) has abruptly pulled out of a scheduled filming in Japan where he was going to talk about words and how young people use them and manga and stuff.

You know, good positive fluff that could only benefit tourism to Japan and spread the word that there is more to Japanese culture than kissing your superiors' arse and waiting for the sweet release of death. In other words, Fry could have extolled the virtues of Japan's long hailed "soft power."

Now you could say it was just polite of Fry to skip Japan, given the hoohaa of the audacity of making jokes. On television (AGAIN, THE CAD!). Unfortunately there are some hard truths instead that we must learn about Japan that are entirely not soft and cuddly like Hello Kitty Apologists would have us believe.

1. Fry pulled out due to threats against his safety.
2. The Japanese government clearly could not guarantee his safety.
3. The embassy after all had complained about the jokes, whipping up a shitstorm of media coverage over here.
4. Our Man would just like to say. Are you joking? Is this a joke, or is this acceptable behaviour for a country not under martial law?

So you thought the media was only intimidated by government thugs in Egypt. Guess again folks.

Or were there in fact no threats, just a convenient excuse to avoid a delicate situation?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

EGYPTIAN DISINFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

The following is the last post from a blogger in Egypt before he was arrested earlier today. Reposted here because Our Man wants a word-for-word copy for future reference. Let's hope he's wrong, and Our Man never needs to read this again.

Egypt, right now: by Sandmonkey

Sandmonkey, Egypt’s most famous English-language blogger, was arrested on 3 February 2011 while attempting to deliver medical supplies to Tahrir Square. About one hour later, his blog was suspended. The obvious conclusion is that his arrested was not at all random – that Hosni Mubarak’s security forces were following him online and planned his arrest (the Sandmonkey tweeted that he was on his way to deliver medical supplies to Tahrir shortly before he was arrested). He wrote the following this morning, and posted it on his blog. I have re-posted it here, with out correcting any typos. This is strictly copy-and-paste.

Also: Over the past week, the Sandmonkey was interviewed for two podcasts, which are available online. Click here to listen to the Sudanese Thinker’s interview; andhere to listen to Roger Simon’s interview.

UPDATE: It seems now that his blog was down for technical reasons. But I’ll keep the post here, just in case.

I don’t know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one’s friend house to another friend’s house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn’t start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square.

We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn’t go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what’s right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn’t believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak’s departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime’s ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn’t nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because “we got what we wanted” and “we need the country to start working again”. People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it’s time for Unity under Mubarak’s rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn’t caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren’t the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn’t enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children.

After all, he gave us his word, and it’s not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as “Pro-Mubarak Protesters” – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID’s on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn’t give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it’s the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn’t clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won’t say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay “because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people”. This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can’t. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can’t allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn’t over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what

Mubarak’s gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.


Lifted from here.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

OBAMA, TEAR DOWN THAT FENCE



At the risk of blowing his own trumpet (nobody else is gonna blow you - ed.) Our Man was rather pleased with his "work" over at twitter station (for those not in the micro-blogging habit, you have to stand on your head and read the messages from the bottom up. Yes, Our Man has been drinking) (Oh and howdya like the pyramid scheme above, gedditt????):


OurManInAbiko
Or not, whatever. I'm off to 7-11. Need anything?
OurManInAbiko
Obama: This is your moment, tear down that fence you're sitting on and join the force of history that will prevail.
OurManInAbiko
Did you see Reagan fence-sitting when Eastern Europe crumbled? No. He said: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall."
OurManInAbiko
Our Man gets the stability argument for fencesitting on Egypt. But, situ has changed. Mubarak has no future. Obama should drop him publicly