Category Archives: Japan

Where do these poor people begin?

We’re all terrified for the Japanese people while simultaneously being fascinated by the scope of the disaster. That’s human nature – it’s compelling and it’s riveting.

Sendai airport

So we watch and listen to the minute by minute updates on the radiation danger. But at the same time, and getting less attention, there are more very serious problems afflicting the country. (I don’t mean to minimize the nuclear threat – radiation is a real and present danger and could even force the eventual long term evacuation of large areas.) 

They’re running out of food and water in shelters. It’s freezing in the north – there was a blizzard of snow yesterday. The Japanese have an enormous elderly population and some of them have found themselves left with only one coat and no way to get out of where they are.  Shelters may not have heat. Some countries have suspended air service to Tokyo. And even there, food supplies are perilously low.

Few governments have ever faced such a multiplicity of crises outside of wartime.

And my government is considering dedicating air power to Libya. Elvis help me, but these failures of the human heart are killing me.

The Zen of twisted steel: thoughts of Japan

The only country to ever suffer an attack by nuclear weapons might now be facing the worst peacetime nuclear contamination in history. It’s not Chernobyl yet, but Japan is an island nation;  there aren’t a lot of  places to hide.

Japanese serenity garden

In 65 years, the Japanese pretty much became the people they attacked in 1941 and who  dropped atom bombs on them in 1946; they embraced the Western way of life.

Theirs is such an ancient culture –  I wonder if there aren’t some today in Japanese universities or think tanks re-examining all of it, wondering  did they choose the right path?

Westernization has nothing to do with the fact of the earthquake or the tsunami of course –  God laughs when God laughs. But I think the ugliness of the aftermath, the horror of twisted steel and broken infrastructure and now, radiation turned to poison the builders, I think these things offend beauty and serenity, thinks the Japanese have always treasured.

Just a thought.

UPDATE April 4, 2011: A writer I admire, James Howard Kunstler (been perusing his site today) pretty much said the same thing about Japan and it’s esthetic. (He said it six days after me, think he got it here? Heh, fat chance.

The Pacific Rim isn’t done messing with Japan yet

Japanese Volcano Erupts

And the beat goes on . . . .

The broadsheets, the broadcasts and even the intertubes are awash, verily spilling over the inkwells, with stuff. There is much stuff.

There are elections, revolutions, revelations, and retorts of all sorts. There are floods and tsunamis and earthquakes and blizzards. Crops are flourishing, crops are devastated. Children iz learning. Or they izn’t. Spring is coming! Winter will never end! Movies are better than ever; there is nothing on television and Charlie Sheehan is still crazy.

In pundit-land, America’s favorite grumpy old racist granddad, Pat Buchanan, just said of Wisconsin “Walker may have won in the short term, but in the long run . . . . ”  I later heard the young ‘reporters’ on CNN struggle to ‘report’ on the pending tsunami in Hawaii. They look at the earthquake in Japan and tsunami in the Pacific Rim and wonder what is Obama doing. (Grandpa Pat, by the way, is right. Republicans are not going to enjoy the ‘look in the mirror moment’ Walker has unleashed. If we have a shred of decency left though, America will.)

On the “common sense is breaking out!” front, two columns stood out for me yesterday. George Will asked the essential questions about America’s unholy interest in Middle East wars and Gail Collins turned her eye (and I avert mine) to my own interesting State (we are producing Jon-Stewart-level comedy daily).

Will’s questions are for Republicans who would intervene – even at the ‘no fly zone’ level –  in Libya. Among them (my partial summary):

  • Is Libya a vital US interest? A month ago it wasn’t.
  • Have we forgotten that the worse European atrocity since WWII (Bosnia) occurred under a non f ly zone.
  • If Gaddafi hits a US aircraft or captures a US pilot, are we ready for that?
  • If we decide to give war supplies to the rebels, how do we get them there? Oh, and who are they?
  • Libya is tribal. What makes us think we understand or can deal with that (see Afghanistan, 2001 to 2011).
  • Mission creep?
  • If the UN says ‘no’, do we go ahead anyway? And then?
  • Do we want military engagement in three Muslim countries?

Good questions.

Gail Collins turns the spotlight on Florida:

“A state representative has introduced a bill that would impose fines of up to $5 million on any doctor who asks a patient whether he or she owns a gun. This is certainly a new and interesting concept, but I don’t think we can classify it as a response to Tucson. Jason Brodeur, the Republican who thought it up, says it’s a response to the health care reform act.”

We elect these people (see Scott, Rick, subject of largest fine for criminal fraud ever imposed by the United States. We elected him governor). Although the bill will go nowhere, I’m embarrassed.