Thursday, 22 December 2011

HOW MANY ZEROS?


Keen followers of Our Man know he is a Chizzit.

The term, coined by seaside merchants sick of stingy daytrippers from Our Man's hometown forever asking "How much is it?", sprang to mind on the news that the Japanese government (the folk who levy taxes on Our Man) is going to buy a couple of F-35 fighters. Forty-two to be exact. At ¥9,900,000,000 each. That's, er, hold on Our Man's calculator can't handle all the zeros... just under ¥420,000,000,000. And that's excluding maintenance and printer cartridges, which Our Man knows from bitter experience add a couple of zeros onto the price.

But the reviews are in: US Ambassador Roos says it's a best buy (although he never got round to buying any Quakebooks for his embassy, by the way):



God bless interoperability. The link goes to a US Defense Department news release in which the Canadian Defense Minister (???) says the aircraft's capability is "eye-watering". As is the bill, which even the Japan Probe, self-appointed lapdog of the Japanese establishment, lets slip "is very expensive."

And the cost might be more, according to the Japan Times, seeing as the plane doesn't actually work yet. And it's invisible. But Our Man swears he saw a picture of it in the JT. Anyway, we can trust Lockheed, they've got  such a glowing history.

Eye-watering indeed.

Friday, 16 December 2011

JOINING THE NUCLEAR CLUB



There are times when Our Man is happy to be out of the loop, and times when he wishes he could find his blinking Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan honorary annual membership card. (The last club that allowed him in was the Dennis the Menace Fan Club, and he had to pay for that. But he digresses.)

Today was one of those latter days Our Man wishes he was at the FCCJ's lunch shindig to hear an undercover journalist pitching his book about the corrupt work practices of the TEPCO thugs who "manage" the Fukushima plant and the yakuza thugs who line up workers willing to die for a decent wage.

Our Man urges you to read the tweets written at the press conference by @Nictos and archived here by the mysterious Tokyo Outsider. Seems our hero journo, Tomohiko Suzuki, worked undercover at the Fukushima plant until his cover was blown from taking notes during company meetings (the fool!). There are lots of salacious details and broader points that you really should read - such as the "we're all in it together" narrative of 3/11 being exposed for the bullshit that it is, but Our Man would just like to add his two-yen...

The claims of official foot-dragging and turning a blind eye to ensuring workers are kept ignorant enough to endanger their own lives strike Our Man as entirely believable and consistent with his own experiences of covering the Vertac plant that was tasked with incinerating 30,000 drums of Agent Orange in Jacksonville, Arkansas, back when Our Man was a cub reporter in the '90s.

What does it all mean? Our Man, as usual, hasn't the foggiest. But he would just like to remind folk as they ching their microwaves, recharge their iphones or, ahem, read spurious blog posts: all this electricity comes at a price. A hell of a price.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

1 BANANA, 2 BANANA, 3/11 BANANA MORE




That pesky earthquake has changed everything. And nothing, of course.

Our Man misses the halcyon pre-quake days when he could wax lyrical about the ineptitudities of the higher ups, you know, Japanese pols billing taxpayers for bullet train tickets so they can go shag their mistresses for free; fiery Yomiuri Shimbun editorials about the desperate need for more panels, committees and ad hoc panel committees.

But in the dog days of 2011, Our Man's lost his funny bone. There's plenty of nonsense for sure in the strange post-quake Abiko. But the rounds of digging up the schoolyard to bury the radioactive topsoil under the regular soil, while absurd, are not that funny when Our Man knows it's his daughters' playground.

And Our Man is tired. Tired of suggesting that nuclear power is far too dangerous thing to allow the libidinous octogenarians who constitute the higher-ups of Japan to manage; and then getting shouted down by the nuke-heads on twitter that whatever latest radioactive sea water, contaminated rice, beef or baby milk formula is only as radioactive as one banana. Or two bananas. Or three.

And the worst of it is, they are right. But Our Man isn't keen on bananas.

So, Our Man read this opinion piece on the Japanese government funneling billions of yen of quake relief into protecting the whaling fleet, and he just thought, has everything changed? Has it?

Because the view from Our Man's bunker is nothing has.

Anyway, enjoy the purrrty music while you can.