Saturday, 27 April 2013

ABE'S GOKIBURI HOI-HOI


If I were a newspaper editorial page cartoonist, I'd have the Prime Minister of Japan, Herr Abe, Jackbooting around with a little ¥100 plastic trumpet (made in China), but maybe make him very small, possibly a cockroach in a helmet, and his audience could be maybe a bunch of smaller cockroaches, say on the floor of a restaurant. Towering above him could be someone recognisably Chinese like a noodle chef with a big wok that he's about to crush on Abe's head, with maybe an American customer, say a fat bloke with a cowboy hat just to make that clear, with a basket full of roach traps for sale. The cockroaches could be labelled "Japanese voters" and the slightly racially insulting stereotypical Chinaman would be labeled "China" (because editorial cartoons are too suffisticated without labels) and Abe could be handing over wheelbarrows of freshly minted cash to the American cowboy for the roachtraps which Abe is laying all around the shop.

But fortunately I'm not.

Instead, here are a few links.

Abe showing his true nationalist colours

Will the international community just watch Japan's Nazification?

And then there's this Skewed History of Asia from 10 years ago in the Nation by Tim Shorrock

Oh yeah, and Japan refused to sign a declaration against the use of nuke weapons and all that Yasukuni shrine-visiting nonsense, for which I've lost the links.

Ho hum. It's almost like Abe wants to scrap the Japanese pacifist constitution and go nuclear. Nothing like an arms race to stimulate the economy, eh readers? That's Hooked On Abenomics.

Monday, 22 April 2013

BOSTON POPS



All good things come to those who wait.

I had worried that I'd have to write up a detailed critique of the Boston thing, but Twitter, for all its faults, provided the links so I didn't have to do much thinking. I'm sure you all are as clued up or hunkered down on The Meaning Of Boston and all that, and don't need Our Man to add to the petabytes of waffle coming out of every internet orifice, but here are two of Our Man's favourites that kind of sum up his thoughts on the matter.

Contradictions in the political response to Boston and gun control

Martial law: Cops shut down everything except the donut shop. No really 

Right. Enough of Our Man sticking his nose into matters that he has no expertise in (Really? That would be a first - ed.), he'll leave that to plenty of other folk out there with a more desperate need to prove themselves. See, I had expected to be nearly finished writing the first draft of the second Hana Walker thriller by now, but I'm only 20,000 words in with another 60,000 to go. So, the North Korea sabres will have to rattle without me for a bit. Priorities, you know?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

TAKING A BREATHER

I'm all Boston'd and North Korea'd out. The problem with instant, real-time news is, well, it's instant and real time. I realise there is value in a slower cook, where deadlines are not so tight and the info can be digested and gristle removed rather than swallowed whole. Daily rather than hourly, or better still, weekly rather than daily mean perspective has a chance to step in and slap some sense into the knee-jerkers.

Our Man stands accused (actually he was sitting on a park bench with Kirin beer in hand at the time) of allowing an anti-American streak into his online offerings. For the record, Our Man is not anti-American. Our Man's Anti-hypocrisy and anti-authority (and you used to be funny too, dammit -- ed.)  but for the record,  for all the atrophy of the government to do anything about its myriad problems, Our Man still agrees with PJ O'Rourke's assessment that for all its faults, the USA is still the only country in the world with a legal requirement to pursue happiness, and that's pretty cool.

Just saying.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

NORTHERN EXPOSURE


Planet Pyongyang
is an interesting read from Newsweek (they are still around online, who knew?). I've no idea how connected to US administration insiders or representative of US thinking it is, but if it's not a case of Newsweek playing digital devil's advocate for the hell of it, it sounds like the US is running out of patience with Pyongyang and is happy to call its bluff. But we already knew that, eh readers? Smart money still on no war though, right? Right?

Secret handshake to The Marmot's Hole for the link.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

BOSTON



Just when I think it's safe to venture off the serious and sombre path that this blog seems to have found itself stuck on, more serious and sombre shit hits the fan and laughter seems, if not impossible, then at least inappropriate.

I've got nothing to add to what's been said threescore and ten million times on Twitter about the Boston Marathon bombing. As I write this, all the details are still foggy, exactly how many have been injured, maimed or worse. In common with all horrors, it brings out the best and worst in people: it's not uncommon that people on the ground find previously hidden reserves of strength to do the impossible, almost in inverse proportion to the inanity displayed by those further away, most notably in speculation over who is to blame.

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on it being crazy white men rather than jihadist Muslim sects, North Korean sleeper cells or whoever else fits the current photofit of the Enemy of The State, but then I'm the other side of the Pacific and just as guilty as the next armchair expert of passing off prejudice as insight.

Ho hum.

This caught my eye on Twitter as particularly worthy of cutting out and sticking under the virtual fridge magnets (read from the bottom up):


Anyway, there's still the thing with North Korea that I, foolishly, am trying to keep up with. Just two Links today:

US delays own missile test (Oh, yeah, see, we can test missiles because we are the good guys)

Forget nuclear war, famine is bad enough

Saturday, 13 April 2013

OUR TEMPERS ARE SHORT...



Yay, it's Saturday night. But oh dear, the war drums have started up again. I won't go on, but just wanted some place to post these links. Hopefully they'll be irrelevant if peace breaks out. The mood on the frontlines of Twitter is very Tonkin Gulf, WMD and, sorry, what was the pretext for Pakistan? Afghanistan? Iran? I forget now.

Bomb North Korea, Before it's Too Late (NYT, really)

Feeling Patriotic

North Korea Knows How to Miniturize Nukes (secret report)

No, They Don't (South Korea)

Obliged to @TokyoRich for the ditty.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

SMART MONEY


Not that you would have noticed, but I've fallen a bit behind in my war links since there are so many to keep up with recently. I won't pretend to be able to figure out the truth of what's going on, being pretty one-dimensional and black and white myself, but seems like all the smart money is now on there not being a war in these parts. Our man at the Times, Dicklp, as he's known on his non-paywall leaping twitter followers, reckons only non-serious, uninformed cretins really believe there will be a war. I hope he's right. But being one of the uninformed non-serious cretinous types, I tend to distrust conventional wisdom, which is always so right 99 percent of the time until that one moment when it is spectacularly wrong and then we talk about changing realities and paradigm shifts -- instead of just admitting that conventional wisdom is as full of horseshit as a frozen lasagne, which we would have known if we had learnt to cook for ourselves in the first place.
Ho hum.
Anyway, for my records if not for yours:

North Korea: Not Crazy but Very Misunderstood

N. Korea ratchets up tension by restricting Kaesong operations

Foreigners' safety cannot be guaranteed

North-korea-warned-foreigners-during-pueblo-crisis-too

Picture celebrating another act of Thatcher's (pre-lasagne) that helped put the Great back into Britain, clearly, from here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

THE IRONY LADY


I shall not gloat, but I shall not mourn.
I shall not dance on her grave, nor offer scorn.
Well, not much.
But I will not countenance the deification
of one so enamoured with privatisation
who's promised an all-expenses-paid state funeral
the day the benefits are cut.

Friday, 5 April 2013

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL


After glancing through the one-sided "Drumbeat to War" table by AP that the Japan Times put on their front page the other day which made it appear North Korea was just craaaazy, it was with great relief to read a -- how-you-say, er "nuanced"-- piece that sought to understand the escalation to a war footing, rather than cheer-lead in the march to war.

And it kinda turns out the North Koreans haven't actually done much of anything more menacing than their usual incredible threats which "remain just that -- incredible."

But don't take Our Man's twisted words for it, read this piece by a real professor and everything.

Let's all take a chill-pill, and get this scent of blood out of our nostrils.

PS, was going to run a picture of bongos (war drums, geddit?) but, well, thought I'd do an old rag out like the olden days in newspapers when they wanted to appear learned and all told-you-so-ish.

Carry on.

Secret handshake to XinJeisan for the link.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

BEHIND A RINGED FENCE, DARKLY


Our Man is not a betting man. But if he was, he'd say there's a high chance of war in these parts.

I've got no special intel, just the news coming out of Pyongyang isn't very encouraging, not that there's any surprise there, but it sounds like something has changed on the US side. Perhaps their Nobel Peace Prize winningest coach wants to go out with a 3-pointer? Are the Yanks ratcheting up for war? Why is it everyone thinks the Norks will be the first to strike? Is it me or have the natives been restless ever since the Yanks decided to pivot toward Asia? Why do I keep reading about it all being the fault of the untested new leader in the North, the untested new leader in the South but nothing to do with the untested new Secretary of State in DC? But anyway, what would I know?

Nothing, as usual. So here's a sorry picture of soggy looking cherry blossoms behind a fence around a schoolyard. Happy spring. Yay.

Anyway, here are the weakest links... goodbye. And yes, I'll be as happy as you to get off this war footing, but until sanity prevails, what's a silhouette to do?

North Korea blocks South workers from Kaesong zone

China expresses 'serious concern' over North Korea

BBC News - North Korea nuclear: US vows to 'defend self and South'


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT


I sincerely hope that things cool down with North Korea, and sharpish too. I don't know how many more days I can take of sabres rattling in my Japan Times and relations being at "boiling point" tensions "heating up" and cold wars turning "hot." If the JT scribes had been writing the first draft of English history, they would have had Alfred the Great burning the cakes well before Ethelred was Unready (or something - ed.)

Clearly, the Norks don't like Yanks flying B-52s and now B-2s around. Perhaps if some adults could take charge before the kids do some serious damage? Perhaps put the toys away before someone loses an eye on an arrow or gets his feet wet trying to turn back the tides of history? (or something - ed.)

Just Abiko is a lot closer to the Nork hot cakes than Austin, Texas.

Anyway, some links that mean the confectionaries are cooling, we hope (but you never know with those hotheads who spend all their money on the military...er, their hotheads, not our hotheads, obviously).

Reaching Out to North Korea

It's not a hermit kingdom (just a very naughty boy)

White House plays down threat of imminent North Korea attack ...

Stealth Bomber Dry Runs Over S.Korea 'Cost $5.6 million'