Sunday, 29 July 2012

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS WITH VAGUELY OLYMPIC THEME




Things that happened to Our Man today.
  1. He had to talk knowledgeably about the Olympics for one hour and ten minutes (Oh, so now you think you can run for Pres? - ed.)
  2. To celebrate this gold medal of an achievement, Our Man ordered a mixed pizza, a Caesar salad and a draught beer from his local Gasto - think Little Chef  (if you are familiar with the ways they try to kill you in Britain).
  3. Our Man is desperately trying to find meaning in this stream of consciousness, but if he doesn't make it at least he has avoided watching Japanese muscly teens falling on gym mats that is keeping Our Woman, if not engrossed, then awake between scouring the twitter for signs of intelligent life.
  4. It may be that the Olympics will provide some meaning to this post, but beyond the hype of the opening ceremony, which Our Man missed, he has little to say. That is, if you enjoy the Olympics, it would be churlish of him to criticise. Other than everything about it. 
  5. Sure, Our Man thinks the Olympics are fascism lite, but they are at least in a recognisable place to him -- London -- even if the font is messed up. And he would like the old homeland to acquit itself well on the world stage.
  6. But that doesn't mean he has to watch it.
  7. Our Man did find himself savouring the reposte from David Cameron of all people to Mitt Romney's kak-handed slagging of London's Olympic preparations: "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities in the world. Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere." Touche, Mormon-boy. 
  8. See what nationalism does?
  9. But Our Man will refrain from overslagging Romney because who enjoys snotty-nosed foreigners getting the wrong end of the stick and coming off as out of touch?
  10. Certainly not Our Man.*
Oh, and if you only watch one Olympic vid this summer, make sure it's this one. Genuinely moving, and gave Our Man pause in his usually steady flow of cynicism.

Carry on.

*Thinking you know more than the locals is a dangerous thing. As amusing as the video is from Our Brothers and Sisters at the Guardian, remember when the paper decided to try to influence the 2004 US elections by getting a bunch of smug British champagne socialist readers to lecture folks in swing US races on why they shouldn't vote Republican? Yep. You can imagine how successful that was.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

MIDNIGHT RAMBLINGS ON PUBLISHING



Just a few notes from Our Man's blotter you might be interested in...
  • Our Man has yet to see a penny from all his publishing activities, and when he does they will be less in the order of a tea and scones at the Ritz than a trip to McDonald's, but still...
  • Doing the self-publishing thing is more fun than you could shake a stick at. That is, if you share the same definition of fun as Our Man: working into the wee hours on a pet project that few others can see the point of, challenging yourself, getting over your fear of making an ass of yourself in public, trying things that work, trying things that don't, creating a book you are proud of, creating one you know is not perfect, but is the best you can do at the time, making the odd enemy, making the odd friend. 
  • And picking up the odd review. Like this one here from Nictos, who could be described as the sempai, or at least the odd friend Our Man has never met. Something he must rectify before long.
  • Our Man is learning the self-publishing biz as he goes by trial and error. He's getting the hang of the mechanics of formatting a book, what copy flow to follow and what more he needs to learn.
  • And there is much he still must learn, which he will--no doubt the hard way.
  • But right now, he's just concentrating on getting more writing fit for human consumption. Other projects include two or three more posts from this blog that Our Man reckons would make good 99-cent essays on Amazon; the sequel to Hana Walker's Half-Life; and a collaborative book with Our Woman in Abiko for the Japanese market. Kindle is coming to Japan soon, you know, and Kobo is already here...
And no, Our Man didn't make the Man Booker longlist this year again. There's always next year.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

HOW TO WRITE ABOUT JAPAN: THE TRUTH. KINDA



Our Man's latest book is available now. Well, it's an ebook. Well, an essay. But it is available now. And it's really cheap. Er value for money. Click HERE for details. Carry on.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

CURSE OF THE NEWSPAPER HACK



Our Man really doesn't want to be the sanctimonious ass, but seems it's a role he has no choice but to play. And he's quite good at it, even if he says so himself. Well, he gets so much practice.

The above story (screen grabbed from the Irish Independent before it gets deleted like the original was) didn't offend Our Man exactly -- Lord knows he's been ordered to write worse in his years as an ink-stained wretch. He knows exactly how such tripe gets produced -- there's a big story and the editor wants every angle covered. The deputy editor knows he is a talentless brown-noser but has to justify his inflated salary somehow, so orders that panels be written. Ooh, there's a Batman angle to the massacre! Do a panel on The Curse of Batman! Tasteless? Utter, utter horseshit? Doesn't matter, just do it, if you know what your job's worth...

Our Man knows exactly what that job is worth. Nothing. That the story was written by the Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet, with sub-editors and layers of pros who are supposed to ensure quality... and this gets through... well. They will bleat it's the internet's fault because they've had to skimp on their sub-editors to compete with the semi-pro hacks out there. Our Man doesn't buy this argument. Shite like this gets through not despite the system, but because of it.

Our Man has long argued that the time is up for newspapers, but today he finally sees the myth of the gatekeeper as bastion of quality is just that: a toothless myth. So, to hell with The Telegraph. To hell with the gatekeepers.

Newspapers, your time is up. It's time we the people wrote our own journalism. Now, if you'll excuse Our Man, he's gonna do just that RIGHT HERE.

Friday, 13 July 2012

WHO IS HANA WALKER?



So, here Our Man answers the vital questions of the day: Who is Hana Walker? What's it mean to grow up a hafu in Japan and why does K-pop beat J-pop? (Someone tell that piano player to learn a new tune - ed.)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

KUROKAWA'S FUKUSHIMA REPORT: THE MIXED METAPHOR AND THE GROUP HUG


Oh dear. Our Man does hope the wheels aren't going to fall off the Kurokawa report into the Fukushima accident before it's had time to build any kind of momentum (the editor does hope Our Man stops mixing his metaphors before the reader has a chance to get to the point -- ed.) but seems this line about the blame for Fukushima is causing folk to get their knickers in a twist:
Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program'; our groupism; and our insularity.
This line doesn't appear to be in the Japanese language version of the report, which has led folk far smarter than Our Man to conclude that the report may be:
  • A personal soapbox for Kurokawa whose thing is internationalism.
  • It's the here-we-go-again Japan is unique, has four seasons, not like anywhere else, evolved from a different breed of ape bullshit. So therefore, it's not such a big deal report after all, just an appeal to outmoded and inaccurate cultural stereotypes.
  • Evidence that there are two reports -- one for the foreigners and one for the Japanese. Take your pick of what the implications of all that might be.
Our Man doesn't want to be seen as an apologist for Kurokawa, or Japan as unique, or anything that might suggest he knows more than any one else on this and many other matters -- he really, really doesn't... but...

But is it possible that this line of spin, thrown in for whatever reason, is just that -- a bit of spin? And maybe the meat and potatoes of the matter (watch those mixed metaphors, smart ass - ed.) are contained elsewhere in the report -- you know the bits about the nuke company colluding with the regulators colluding with the media colluding with whoever else is left to collude with that allowed the natural disaster turn into a man made tragedy?

For what it's worth, Our Man believes toadyism, reflexive obedience, devotion to sticking to the program and insularity are not exclusive to the Japanese; they apply equally to elites in the West too. Hello, Goldman Sachs? Hello, The U.S. Government? Hello, The UK Conservative Party? Hello, The Murdoch Empire? Et bloody cetera.

Meanwhile, as the resistance movement bickers, the Gomiuri Shimbun can begin Phase One of the business as usual approach: marginalise the report by burying the point in a haystack of words in which there's something for everyone.

Sigh.

The smart talk seems to be over at Shisaku. Looking forward to his considered take. All this fake thinking for himself is giving Our Man a headache. Need a group-think group hug.

Carry on!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR ACCIDENT: 'RESULT OF COLLUSION'


Our Man is no expert on nukes. Nor is he an expert on Japan. Or Government reports. Or Fukushima. Or much of anything. But off the top of his head, he can't ever remember an official government report so damning of the status quo, so spot-on with what Our Man thinks really happened.

So, he shares it here in its entirety and with an executive summary for folk with as little patience as he has for long documents. But he wanted to post it here just so he has it for future reference.
He has no doubt that the forces of reaction (he's looking at you, Yomiuri Shimbun) will do everything in their considerable power to mitigate the impact of this report. They will try ignoring it; when that fails, they will marginalize it; then look for chinks in the report's armour; then attack its creators; then go after any of its believers. And repeat.

Or if they are really smart, they will agree it's spot on and then ignore its recommendations and do nothing.

In other words, they will do whatever they can to kill the truth. And they may succeed. But at least we have the document to know that they are wrong.
Naiic report hi_res
View more documents from jikocho

Our Man is betting you haven't read the report. But you probably should. So here's Our Man's executive summary after a quick glance through, that you can cut out and stick on your fridge:
  • "The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster."
  • "It was a profoundly manmade disaster -- that could and should have been foreseen and prevented."
  • "...a multitude of errors and willful negligence..."
  • "It's fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program'; our groupism; and our insularity."
  • "The accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties."
  • "TEPCO was too quick to cite the tsunami as the cause of the nuclear accident and deny that the eathquake caused any damage."
  • "The residents' confusion over the evacuation stemmed from the regulators' negligence."
  • "The government and regulators are not fully committed to protecting public health and safety; that they have not acted to protect the health of the residents and to restore their welfare."
  • "The safety of nuclear energy in Japan and the public cannot be assured unless the regulators go through an essential transformation."
  • "Replacing people or changing the names of institutions will not solve the problems."

JAPAN TODAY, TOMORROW THE WORLD



Despite the hype about ebooks, you might be surprised to know how hard it is to get anyone to take them seriously. Or at least, one by Our Man.

So, forgive Our Man his chuffedness to see this. Japan Today has run the Abiko Free Press story about Hana Walker's book. THE FULL STORY IS HERE. Lest you suspect Our Man of merely seeing $$$ before his eyes when he thinks of you, dear reader, know this: he is in no way, shape or form able to even contemplate quitting his cover job to concentrate on chronicling Hana's continuing adventures.

But he is still on cloud nine. He's proud of Hana's tale. He couldn't have written a better book at this time, and folk whose opinions he respects have enjoyed reading it. Even better, folk, even if only a small trickle, are buying his book. What more could a silhouette really want? Oh, OK, your money.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

AN HONEST LOOK AT RACISM

Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a RacistHi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist by Baye McNeil
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist is hard to read.

Not because of the writing, far from it, Baye McNeil's prose is straight and true, with a playful turn of phrase and compelling immediacy that won't surprise anyone who has read his blog.

No, it's personal. Completely personal.

Enter Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist and you don't just enter the author's world, you enter his mind, heart and soul. This is no mean feat -- it's much harder to do than it looks. But it's not always comfortable for the reader.

Our Man is only able to write honestly by establishing a complex set of mirrors within mirrors held together with bits of string and a knotted hanky or two -- the silhouette, the third person, the bottle of 7-Eleven red, the humour (not to mention asides from me - ed.). Reading Baye's book is like being asked to walk in his footsteps, only he's walking the high-wire with no safety net.

And now it's your turn, go on. Just don't close your eyes. You can't close your eyes.

Baye's life is revealed with clarity and an honesty as 20/20 as his hindsight. The women he has screwed. The friends he has made. The assholes who dissed him. The friends he has outgrown. The love he has lost. His failings. His successes. His confusion. And his clarity; his absolute certainty that he is a racist.

And yet, and yet, and yet... it's this premise, in a book packed with as much honesty about race as Richard Wright's Native Son, that doesn't ring true to Our Man. Baye calls racism the mammoth in the room, but Our Man would call it the paper tiger in the book.

If we accept that race is the defining characteristic of Loco's life and that he is a racist, then in his world view, this is the operating principle behind everyone's life.

But Our Man doesn't buy that. And Loco doesn't either.

At every turn in the book, Loco's humanity and individuality shine through. Every insult from the Japanese who refuse to sit next to him on a busy train, every ignorant jibe from his white former roommates, every act of opportunism from his black friends are met with indignation. Indignation that anyone could be so blinded by bigotry to not see the individual staring back at them.

Loco is many things: a great teacher, a straight-talker, an individual, not to mention a great writer. But a racist? Our Man begs to differ.

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