Wednesday, 31 August 2011

YOSHIHIKO NODA: MADE IN JAPAN


This Independent cartoon was doing the rounds of twitter last time Our Man had a tea break from writing his novel, and he thought you long-suffering blog-readers could do with a laugh.

Is it fair? (the cartoon, not long-suffering on this blog, that clearly is indefensible). Are all Japanese prime ministers churned out from the same factory? Depends how sharp a focus you take, Our Man supposes. Zoom out, and it's, what, 61 prime ministers since 1900? Highly productive, one must say. But zoom in close and you can see the differences. We had one with long hair (Koizumi, last seen in 2005) one with glasses (Fukuda?), one with the funky shirt (Hatoyama) and a vilified one (Kan) who just got booted for being as incompetent as the last half-dozen in as many years. At least Kan actually tried and almost managed to initiate a change - away from nuclear power - but failed to move the ship of state off its course set circa 1961.

Maybe the new guy will be better.

All hail Yoshihiko Noda! Here's what Our Man knows about Noda filtered through a newspaper and a neighbour who read one. He comes from Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture, just up the road from Abiko. He was good at judo in middle school. He wasn't good at public speaking in high school. But has improved somewhat since then.

It will all be so different this time.

Back to the novel. As you were.

Friday, 26 August 2011

KAN'S OUT. WHO'S NEXT?





So, that's it then. Naoto Kan is officially about to be no longer prime minister of Japan. He has finally succumbed to what exactly? Being uncharismatic? Doddery? Unpopular? Passing a budget? Just like the rest of his unmemorable predecessors, except for the one with the cool hair. In the end, he did actually achieve something - turning off the nukes as a matter of principle. No doubt his successors will turn them back on again after what exactly? The nuke industry is given a damn good ticking off? They join hands in a grand coalition to bury the bad news with the survivors?

Hope you are happy Yomiuri, you have got your wish.

Who is next into the revolving door/hot seat/whatever? Who cares? I'm reminded of a quote by another bloke who had something to do with nukes:

Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.

Albert Einstein

It's a shame principles in politics don't have the same half-life as nuclear radiation.


Pic lifted from here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

EBOOKS: VIABLE, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM. THAT PAYS. MAYBE



Our Man is just about to spend more of his sleeping time churning out a chapter for his forthcoming novel (good idea - write in the same state as your readers will be - ed) and he just had a thought. Two actually.

1. He is sick of seeing the Yomiuri at the top of this blog.
2. The same economics that make ebooks viable also make a new kind of journalism viable.

Why tie yourself to a newspaper, free blog or book publisher and follow their dictats (and take a tiny 5% royalty or poxy one-off payment, if you are lucky) when you could publish an ebook or pamphlet on Amazon for $2.99 and keep 70% of the royalties.

OK, the big boys control the publicity, but not for much longer, methinks. Besides, you just need to write your story (say 10,000 words or a collection of 10 1,000-word articles say) and you could and should make more than the pittance you could get from news blogs and so on.

But the sales will be tiny.

At first. But build your audience.

And you keep the rights. And your work stays online, on sale for ever.

It's just up to you to write damn good journalism. Lord knows, we need it more than ever.

Just saying.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

YOMIURI SHIMBUN: A PRECIOUS NATIONAL RESOURCE?



Worried about the future? Looking to be led to the promised land? Come, join hands with the Gomiuri. They have five ideas to save Japan.

That's one for each finger of each hand, unless you are a yakuza, but they are too busy dumping radioactive dirt in Precious National Treasures to lumber through the painful prose of the Godzilla of Ginza. No matter. Yours truly has taken his red pen out to mark up the latest missive from the Ministry of Truth, so you don't have to. Are you ready? Hold hands tight, off we go...

Our proposal calls for promoting cooperation between the ruling and opposition camps in carrying out reconstruction projects and policies, a task that requires the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan to be replaced with a new government capable of demonstrating initiative in overcoming the crisis.

Yawn. What? Oh, you want the bums who got thrown out on their backsides three years ago for being incompetent, corrupt shysters to get back in? Sheesh. Remember Aso? The guy before him? The guy before the guy before him? The guy before the guy before the guy before him? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway, carry on Yom...

The public has been extremely frustrated by the Kan government's inability to swiftly respond to the ongoing crisis. In disaster-hit areas, a large number of people feel helpless as they remain unsure about how to rebuild their lives.

Thank goodness they could wait five months for the Yomiuri to tell them the solution...

Kan's desperate attempt to stay on as prime minister, despite his loss of leadership through his failure to unite his Cabinet and his ruling Democratic Party of Japan, has contributed to prolonged political paralysis, worsened by the thoughtlessness of his spur-of-the-moment ideas regarding the basic energy policy and other issues.

Yeah, his crazy ideas like, er, dismantling the remaining 54 nuclear timebombs sitting in LDP heartlands all around this fair earthquake-prone nation... wait... LDP heartlands? Maybe he should leave them...

Parties must join hands

(Must they? Maybe in private would be OK)

As it now appears certain that Kan will step down as early as this month, the nation's politics will finally enter a new phase. Huzzah! But we must keep in mind that a major factor behind the delayed rehabilitation from the disaster was Kan's feckless political style. Like Yomiuri editorials?

Due to significant delays in Diet deliberations, the government has yet to move on to preparations for the compilation of a third supplementary budget for this fiscal year, which is expected to finance full-fledged restoration and reconstruction projects.

What-evvvvvver.

Kan regarded bureaucrats as the enemy, although they are in fact precious national resources.

Dear God. I am going to be sick. Precious. National. Resources. You read it here first, folks. So let's get this straight shall we? That 87,000 people are still homeless FIVE MONTHS after the disaster is the fault of Kan and those pesky politicians who keep trying to do things to, you know, solve problems and get re-elected and not those unelected pen-pushing peons who turned a blind eye to the nuclear industry radioactive elephant in the room for 50 years with the Yomiuri's connivance as long as they still got their cushy jobs on the board.

Main pillars of Yomiuri proposal

**Make best use of bureaucrats and administrative organs

(I suggest Procol Harem)

**Use increased revenue for disaster-hit areas

Yeah, the Yomiuri always approves of tax rises.

**Create jobs through special economic zones


You mean like TEPCO's been doing for years?

**Ease people's anxiety with systematic decontamination


Well, perhaps your precious national resources will get off their precious national arses and stop selling radioactive food to folk, burning radioative waste and running nuclear power plants on faultlines. Ya think that might help decontaminate folk?

**Resume nuclear power generation under state responsibility

Right. The state that you say is run by a feckless idiot. Well that makes a lot of sense. Who came up with this? A bunch of pissed up journos and their mates?

These proposals were devised by specialist reporters in the newspaper's Editorial Bureau, the Editorial Board and the Yomiuri Research Institute after a series of examinations on their own and discussions with outside intellectuals and experts.

Right. Anything on the telly?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

LIFE AFTER #QUAKEBOOK?



Far too busy to write a proper post here, so for those of you who don't do twitter, this is just a reminder that Our Man is still alive and kicking. Oh, very well, he will spare you eight minutes.

But there are good reasons for not writing at this blog recently:
  1. Every post here is one less page he could have done for his novel. (Oh, that old chestnut).
  2. Yes, he is writing a novel. You know he started one and got pretty much done with the first draft when the earthquake hit.
  3. So then Our Man did his bit with Quakebook.
  4. In fact, he is still doing his bit with Quakebook (QB to its friends) and it's doing jolly well.
  5. But he just has to get this write-a-novel-before-you-finish-being-40 monkey off his back.
  6. He has given himself a month to write it AND GET IT PUBLISHED (emphasis his own).
  7. If you care, follow his, er, progress on twitter by clicking on this ridiculous twitter tag (warning: sadly is all too safe for work at the moment): #halflifebook.
  8. He's reworking it to get the earthquake in, since, well, it's kind of important for anyone writing about Japan, don't you think?
  9. And he had a holiday and everything.
  10. Your eight minutes are up.
Pic lifted from here.