Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hopeful Revolutions
(This Is Not A Post #2)

Anyone for a game of dominoes?

Chrenkoff gives us the background on what's going on in Lebanon.

Jason Van Steenwyk has an excellent post on people power over at Countercolumn:
Iraq's democracy, while popular internally, was imposed from without. It never would have happened without the U.S. forcing the issue.

But Lebanon has a chance to seize democracy under its own power. People power. That's not to say the Lebanese people aren't going to need a lot of help. Turkey needs to lean on Syria. Egypt needs to lean on them. The Israelis probably need to be publicly agnostic, but support the right of the Lebanese people to determine their own form of government themselves, so long as they do not provide succor to Hezbollah and their crossborder attacks.

Iraq can put them under a great deal of pressure, as can the U.S. via Iraq.

But the engine has to be the will of the Lebanese people.

And if Lebanon can do it...

The good doctor plays You Say You Want A Revolution:
The events in Lebanon over the last few weeks have been astounding to witness. The assassination of former PM Hariri has unified the anti-Syrian populace, and brought together disparate portions of the Arab population in the region like nothing before. As one protestor phrased it:

"It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."

As Van Steenwyk claims, Lebanon may well be the lynchpin of the Middle East.

New Sisyphus tells of the revolution beginning in Egypt:
After the successful, free and fair elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, popular movements for democratic reform have been strengthened in Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and, now, Egypt. The marches in Cairo began small, with riot police outnumbering protestors by a factor of more than 10 to 1. But in recent days the popular pressure from the people of Egypt for democratic reform was palpable in the streets.

And now comes word today, via the A.P., that President Mubarak has announced only hours ago wide-sweeping changes in Egypt's electoral law. A.P. writer Maamoun Youssef reports ...

Karl Marx wasn't entirely wrong, you know. Eventually, the oppressed will rise up and demand control over their own lives, as long as someone gives them hope.

Update: Pretty huge! Publius Pundit has an excellent roundup of today's protests in Beirut, including links to photos, video, and blogs in Lebanon. Estimates are that possibly 200,000 or more are protesting despite a government ban on protests. (Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

This Is Not A Post #1

Finished one major project and have a brief break before work goes psycho again, so I thought I'd stick my head up and say "Hi!"


If this were simply a "check this out" post, I'd highly recommend:

James the Pirate over at Shooting Rockets At The Sun (anything with pirates is good, eh?);
The Sexism Harvard Likes over at Riding Sun;
Global Warming & Imminent Destruction over at InakaYabanjin;
and Kevin Drum Gives Us All An Accounting Lesson. Lucky Us by Dennis the Peasant, who will, er, eventually, be bagelled. "Help! Help! Come see the repression inherent in the system!"

If this were a "Today's Season Word" post, it would go like this:

紅梅 (koubai)

Red plum blossoms

As the first blossoms [of the year], and because of the scent, plum blossoms are still highly prized in Japan, and in haikai. ... Note that while generations of translators have called this tree by the name "plum," to English and American gardeners it is the "Japanese apricot," ...

Haiku World, by William J. Higginson

To the Japanese, plum blossoms are the symbol of first love. At the beginning of spring in Japan, it is common to see images of Japanese boys in the old-style school uniforms and Japanese girls in spring kimono with plum blossoms in the fore- or background. These images are used as ads for spring sales, to sell plum candy, etc.

Plum blossoms are to me, nostalgia, innocence, romance ...

Yes, I had to look up innocence to make sure I spelled it correctly. Why do you ask?

Well, I still have no time to research and develop good posts. In fact, I should be writing reports right now. My post from last week, Something Witty ... (just before this one), still holds, and it may be some time before I post again.

Thanks for dropping by!

(Image hosted at Flickr.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Something Witty ...

... should start this post. But if I had the time and energy to write something witty, I wouldn't need to write that I'll be not writing for a while.

I haven't been happy with what I've posted since mid-January. Although I've had a ton of good post ideas, I'm doing a lot of 12+ hour days at work, including weekends, and simply do not have the time or energy to develop them to my satisfaction.

I do not know how long this will last. A week at least, probably a month, very possibly until April, when the new academic year starts up in Japan. It's also possible I will be leaving Japan around April/May, so maybe not until I'm relocated. Right now it's difficult to say.

In the meantime, I'll be hanging out at The Daily Demarche, Shooting Rockets At The Sun, InakaYabanjin, Riding Sun, The Tanuki Ramble, Metrolingua, Grandma Jeans Opinions, and all the other excellent blogs on my bagel.

If you should awaken at 3 a.m. soaked in sweat and shaking with the need to read A Guy In Pajamas (yeah, right), here are some emergency doses for your medicine cabinet:
Zen and the Art of Cultural Suicide
If Your Mother Says She Loves You, Check It Out
Why They Hate Us, the Short Answer
One Reaction to the 9/11 Attack
Jiichan, Baachan
What If the US Hadn't Invaded Iraq?
Yeah, I'm a Japanese-Speakin', Tea-Ceremony-Doin', Haiku-Writin' Ex-Pat Redneck. You Got A Problem With That?

Thanks for reading, everyone. I've enjoyed it, and I've really enjoyed my commentors and the back-and-forth with other bloggers.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again,
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together
Just sing a song an' think 'bout sunny weather
Happy trails to you,
Til we meet again

- By Dale Evans, performed by Van Halen (on this CD anyway)

Monday, February 14, 2005

I'm Having An Out-Of-Body Experience ...

... or so I wish.

Hmm. Here's a song I haven't changed a word of:

Five Dollar Fine

We're a fun lovin' crowd, kinda rowdy and loud,
Our jukebox won't play no sad songs,
So don't come in here and cry in your beer,
Cause we don't care about who done who wrong.

We got a five dollar fine for whinin'
We'll tell you before you come in.
And if it ain't on your mind to have a good time,
Y'all come back and see us again.

Well, we don't really care about your clothes or your hair,
This party's open to all.
Yeah we like a good joke and it's alright to smoke,
We got just one rule on the wall.

We got a five dollar fine for whinin'
We'll tell you before you come in.
And if it ain't on your mind to have a good time,
Y'all come back and see us again.

Now there's too many fools makin' too many rules,
That's one thing you can't say about us.
Cause we all get along when we sing the same song
There's just one thing that causes a fuss.

We got a five dollar fine for whinin'
We'll tell you before you come in.
And if it ain't on your mind to have a good time,
Y'all come back and see us again.

We've got a five dollar fine for whinin'...

- by Alex Harvey, performed by Chris LeDoux (at least, on this CD it is)

Oh, and I guess some foreign culture would be in order. Your Japanese word of the days is: 過労死.

Yeah, yeah. Some days it's worth the five bucks.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive for CNN, resigns.

Blackfive comments:
A few of the senior MSM people do hate America, do want us to fail, and do let their biases get in the way of objectivity.

But at least they might wake up tomorrow and realize that we're watching them...and that we'll keep improving our processes and our connections and be even more ready for the next battle for the truth.

Blackfive was one of the bloggers who created the Easongate blog to confront CNN over Jordan's claim that US troops targeted journalists in Iraq. The blog is mentioned in the ABC story linked above.

Bloggers are kicking butt, eh? The world is changing, ladies and gentlemen. Bush re-elected, Yuschenko succeeds, Mapes et al fired, Arafat bites it, the elections in Iraq go well, and now this.

Power to the people, baby! And I mean that as only a Right Wing Death Beast in pajamas doing an Austin Powers impersonation can.

Update Mover Mike has a good post up on journalists who were or who might have been killed by US forces in Iraq.

Update 2 Jean, in the comments, makes the point that it looks like I'm saying bloggers were responsible for Bush's re-election, Yuschenko's election, Mapes's firing, Arafat's death, etc. Well, I'm not. Really. Seriously. I would never ever remind my readers that a certain blogger might have been out of Japan about the time a certain famous Palestinian bought the camel lot. Nor would I imply that that blogger has studied plant poisons in depth. Never. That is something I simply would not do. As for the rest of it, I blame Elvis. Ahem. And space aliens for Arafat's poisoning, of course. That goes without saying.

Friday, February 11, 2005

All Things Considered ...

... I'll skip the wasabi potato chips next time, and stick with the kimchee flavored ones.

Meanwhile, please ignore the poofy-haired guy, and be on the lookout for my next blog incarnation as the ONE and ONLY OFFICIAL fansite for that brilliant madcap, Sherman Hemsley. I don't know who the heck this guy thinks he's fooling.

Now, excuse me while I run off to continue my current life as a wooden career-masochistic drone.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Promised "Sordid Details"

I promised to provide the sordid details of the haiku party last weekend, and here they are.

First, we were told in advance what the season words were: "nightengale" and "spring snow." Each participant had to write a couple of haiku with these themes before the party, and also bring a small present.

I had to work late, so I missed the first hour or so and can only surmise that everyone had a good time. In any case, they seemed happy. Apparently, everyone also turned in their haiku to the man running the show, and each haiku was transcribed onto its own sheet of paper with no name or other identifying features. These pages were taped to the glass patio doors.

This is where I walked in. It was too late for me to participate, so I grabbed some sushi and tea and watched.

Each person got a piece of paper with places on it for first, second, and third place, and funniest and second funniest. The leader of the party read each haiku two times. Everyone marked their votes for their choices for each place. When the reading was finished, the leader went down the haiku one-by-one and anyone who voted for a particular haiku called out what place they gave it. At the end, they counted the score and awarded places. The small presents were prizes, and since there were twice as many prizes as places, they also chose half-a-dozen honorable mentions.

After all that was finished, everyone wanted to see what I had written. I should have claimed I didn't have time to write anything, but stupidly I brought out the two haiku I'd attempted. I got the "Hmmmmmmmm ... OooooKaaaaaay ..." prize.

The leader of the group then gave a brief talk he had prepared about how to improve our haiku, discussed a couple of haiku other people had written, and then we all adjourned to the dining room and had some wonderful strawberries and conversation.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Right Wing Death Beastie

I thought I was being witty doing a couple of song parodies, but Comrade Tovarich over at InakaYabanjin is doing a whole Beastie Boys album!

Here's a taste:

Kofi Annan (Johnny Ryall)


1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3, 4
1, 2, 3, 4
Oh, prime duper
Kofi Annan is the fox in the coop
He gave his pals millions in one fell swoop
Oil-for-Food scammed billions under his watch
Enough for his kin and Johnnie Walker Scotch
Dishing out platitudes about helping Iraq's poor
While stealing all their money and giving Saddam more
Living on Yankee land and taxpayers' money
Investigating himself? It ain't funny
Skimming commissions, interests conflicted, and sex scandal rows
A sordid mess about which he hopes nobody knows

If vulgarity offends you, give it a miss (they are Beastie Boys parodies), but otherwise they're pretty funny.

The whole series is indexed here, and includes such sure-to-be hits as You's the Chump and the soon-to-be released (I hope) No Shame Grifter.

What's Up Around Blogtown?

Riding Sun covers risk calculation, motorcycle riders, and gun control all in one excellent post.

The Tanuki Ramble is back in bidness! Welcome back from the homeland!

The Diplomad has called it quits. Sorry to see it go. Thanks for everything, and happy trails!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

"Suicide" bombers?

Does it count if you remotely detonate your patsy's buddy's truck? What next? Will the insurgents start using children with Down's syndrome as "suicide" bombers? And then I guess you'll be telling me they use drugs to build up courage, eh? Nah, I can't believe this about Mad Mike's Immortals, can I? These guys are dedicated fanatics who willingly trade their own lives for their cause, right? These guys are the heroes, aren't they? Mike?


(Mug tip to Shooting Rockets at the Sun.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Day the Music Died

Ever wonder what that song American Pie was all about?

Early that morning, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) were killed when the plane they were on crashed en route to a gig in Fargo, North Dakota. Don McLean's famous 1971 ballad, "American Pie", contains many references to this day, including the phrase itself.

On February 2nd Buddy Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza from Dwyer Flying Service to take him and his new Crickets band (Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings) to Fargo, North Dakota. Richardson came down with the flu and didn't feel comfortable on the bus, so Waylon gave his plane seat to him. Valens had never flown on a small plane and requested Allsup's seat. They flipped a coin, and Ritchie called heads and won the toss.

This reminds me of something I heard long ago when I paid a lot more attention to why aircraft fall out of the sky. Apparently, one thing many commercial plane crashes have in common is an unusually high number of passenger changes just before the flight. There will be a higher than normal number of people who cancel just before the flight, and also a higher than normal number who buy tickets or change from other flights to the doomed one just before the flight.

I don't remember now where I heard or read this, and I can't find anything on it on the Internet. I don't even know that it's true, though back then I was up on that sort of thing for professional reasons and am pretty sure it was true then. Anyway, it's stuck with me all these years because it is a bizarre and seemingly meaningless statistic. Why would something like this be a common denominator in aircraft crashes?

Sadly, Holly's flight conformed to this statistic. Rest in peace, gentlemen. We rock 'n rollers miss you.


Actually, this is what it's all about.

Happy Setsubun!


Oni ha soto, fuku ha uchi!

"Ogres out, fortune in!"

Today is the traditional New Year in Japan. It is halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and strikes me as a much more sensible date than the seemingly random January 1. Of course, solstices and equinoxes do tend to move a bit each year, meaning setsubun is on a different date each year ... A bit inconvenient for business purposes, I admit. Anyway, setsubun is not a national holiday, and the Japanese celebrate New Year's Eve and Day by the Western calendar. But they also keep the old traditional holiday alive as well.

In Japanese family traditions, one member of the family plays the "oni." The rest of the family chases the oni around the house, throwing soybeans at him. This chases out bad luck for the coming year and lets good luck in. After it's finished, each person should find and eat a number of beans equal to their age.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Haiku Party!

I've unaccountably been invited to a haiku party this weekend.

The 季語 (kigo -- season words) are 春の雪 (haru no yuki -- spring snow) and うぐいす (uguisu -- nightengale, or bush warbler, depending).

All the sordid details will follow.