Friday, September 30, 2005

Shakespeare's Sister

Shakespeare's Sister has hit a rough spot in the highway of life and could use our help. If you can stop by and give a little love and failing that a little moral support.

Bush's Boom has found its way to her house somehow as it could to all of ours. There but for luck go I.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Demo Defects

If you are interested, here is how the vote in the Senate on Roberts went down. All ofthe Dems who voted to confirm should be ashamed of themselves. This was a great opportunity to show what the party should stand for and each and every one of them failed to carry the best interest of the United States forward. Roberts would have been confirmed regardless of their yea vote so at its most fundamental all they did was kiss Dubya's worthless ass. If they think they will be rewarded for their shameful act, they haven't been paying attention. Everyone knows by now that Karl Rove's favorite game is giving the shaft to the foolish opposition, especially those that have played footsy with Dubya Gump in some way. I can just see them now...all lined up, sitting on their haunches, little tails wagging while they wait for their treats from turdblossom or if really lucky, kindly Uncle Dick. Not a pretty picture.

Of course my two rethuglican senators from Georgia voted for Roberts. No surpise there as Saxby Chambliss would have voted for Darth Vader if Cheney had said to and Johnny Isakson is just not an independent thinker.

UPDATE: As usual Billmon has his usual quality post up about it all.

Back and Good News to Boot

Back safe and sound though very tired. Good news on several fronts though.

Delay is toast.
Frist is in hot water.
Dubya's numbers are still bad.

Not all good though. Roberts is confirmed with a lot of Dems voting for him. Still waiting for a list of who did so I can add them to my shit list.

It will take me a few days to catch up on everything, including the time change.
Right now it is time to do expense reports which will mean trying to decode a lot receipts in Japanese. Good thing is that no one in accounting reads Japanese either so I will probably get the benefit of doubt. Really, all those minibar charges are for coffee and water, really.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Back to the USA

Last morning in the Land of the Rising Sun. Good trip business wise...nothing left hanging and met the schedule with a day to spare. Didn't get in nearly enough siteseeing done as work got in the way. Maybe next time. Was really looking forward to seeing Kyoto but it wasn't in the cards this trip.

Now for the 13 plus hour plane ride. It's a very long time in one place. Since flight time is almost equal to time change and we go back over the international date line I will will arrive in Atlanta within a half hour of when I leave Tokyo. It will make for a long Wednesday though on the personal time line.

Finish packing and off to Narita. See you guys on the flip side.

BTW if you plan on coming to Japan for business or pleasure...bring lots of money. Just an example if you have a cup of instant coffee from the mini bar in the hotel it will cost you $4.50. Ouch!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Jedi Master

Now that they have taken the fateful step of arresting Cindy Sheehan the DC police have granted her close to martyr status. What were they thinking of? Don't they know what kind of moral power they have now showered upon her? Bush's handlers made the initial and grave mistake of allowing her to build a powerful symbolism in Texas where they could have diffused her growing power with a simple meeting. Now they have taken that initial mistake and amplified it geometrically. One would think that these "media saavy" idiots would have put the word out that she was untouchable.

Remember the scene in "Star Wars" where the Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobe tells Darth Vader to strike him down as it will do nothing but make Obi-wan more powerful. Keerist - These guys need to watch some movies. And Rove called Cindy a clown?


Tbogg, as usual, cuts to the chase. What he says about Ralph Nader? Ditto!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Required Reading?

What can I say I'm bored....more from the Ironic Times

Top Magazines to Read In the Oval Office Waiting Room
1. Incompetence Today
2. Callous Disregard Monthly
3. Unscientific American
4. Modern Interrogation
5. Greed, Stupidity & Discrimination Review
6. Conquest Magazine
7. Religious Intolerance Digest
8. Mountaintop Removal Quarterly
9. Avarice Weekly
10. Contemporary Conspicuous Consumption

New Pledge of Allegiance

From the Ironic Times

I pledge allegiance to the Chinese-made flag
and to the Republicans for which it stands,
one nation under a Christian God, hopelessly divided,
with limited liberty and delayed justice for all.

Pretty Close!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

We Broke It, We Own It

Billmon once again produces a definitive discussion of the pros and cons of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq by the U.S.

We are faced with some hard decisions ahead. What happens if we beat a fast retreat? Will Iraq collapse into a complete civil war with ethnic cleansing and massive civilian death and suffering? Will we have triggered a holacaust of destruction with our irresponsible effort to remove Saddam from power with trumped up intelligence and everchanging justification of what we are trying to accomplish? Who knows the extent of carnage that will result.

What will happen if we contiue our stubborn struggle to suppress the insurgency? We know we will kill more civilians. We know that more Americans will die and be maimed. Regardless of our presence it is getting worse and most likely will continue to do so. How long are we to hang on before we give up and leave?

Is there anyone who will not admit that we are responsible for all the past destruction and all the future destruction? The majority of Americans foolishly supported the invasion and many still trumpet the mistaken and misleading "Support The Troops" mantra.

Billmon has come to the same painful realization that I have. Something has to give. Regardless of the outcome and the probable disastrous results we really have no choice but to recognize the fruitlessness of trying to make a bad situation better with more violence and death at the hands of American soldiers. It's like when the firefighters arrive on scene with the building already too involved to try and attempt to put out the fire. All there is to do is try and keep the fire contained and let it burn itself out.

We have set the middle east on fire and poured fuel on it for two years with our agression and lack of a coherent strategy. It is fully involved and there is nothing left to do put pull back and protect, as best we can, the exposures. There is no upside here.

To quote Billmon:

We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from fallling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent.

Defeat, in other words, isn't the only alternative to failure. It could also lead to the kind of warfare that CIA counterinsurgency specialist Michael Scheuer warned about in his book Imperial Hubris:

Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms.

Killing in large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertile plants and grain mills -- all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base. Land mines, moreoever, will be massively reintroduced to seal borders and mountain passes too long, high, or numerous to close with U.S. soldiers, As noted, such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugees.

Again, this sort of bloody-mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world.

New Sheriff In Town

In case you haven't been paying attention. The majority of Americans think that we should bring our troops home from Iraq soon or in the near future. Those of us that have been screaming about how wrong the action in Iraq was or is since before it began are no longer in the minority. We are in the majority.

The Whitehouse is using the same message it has since the debacle became a shitstorm. Support the troops, don't let the terrosts win, we will be in more danger from terrorism if we cut and run, we need to establish a democracy in the middle east. All of these are smoke and mirrors and don't recognize the reality of the situation.

The majority of Americans now think the war was a mistake. Are the majority of Americans unpatriotic?
From Froomkin comes the meme that we on the antiwar side need to push at every opportunity.

Staying doesn't make things better, it makes things worse.

This is the way we counter the Whitehouse spin. Staying feeds the terrorist recruiting, increases the hate for Americans in the middle east and gives the insurgency a raison d'etre. We need to refocus our efforts and treasure on things we can make a difference in.

It is a new day in America and we need to grab the initiative and push the above meme at every opportunity. Dubya and company got a free pass on 9/11 and they have gotten a pass so far on Iraq. That was yesterday and the power of the majority is with the folks that knew Iraq was wrong in the beginning and is even more wrong today. The longer we stay the worse it will get.


A very intriguing idea via Andy Ostroy at the Ostroy Report.

Al Gore in 2008? When I look at the horses in the purported race so far I really can't work up much excitement. With 63% of Americans now convinced that is was a huge mistake opposition to the Iraq debacle is money in the bank and Al has been against it, very vocally from before the beginning. Hillary, Biden and Kerry all have the baggage of voting for it. This is a big plus for Al.

The environment and the impact of global warming and the recent slew of Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes, polar melting, gas prices, etc. play right into Gore's strongest suit. He is Mr. Environment. Another big plus.

Remember the warnings and recommendations before 9/11 from Gore on global terrorism that were ignored by Dubya Gump and friends? Another plus.

Don't discount the payback factor as well. Gore can count on some serious postive karma getting even with the thugs that stole the election he won with the popular vote.

Lastly, if you look and listen at the Gore of today he is much a more positive and effective public speaker than in 2000 and he is back on the speaking circuit. Don't forget that he is also clean and tested. He survived the Rovian slime machine in 2000 and if there was something they could have used against him then they would have. No swiftboats.

I hadn't really thought much about a Gore comeback but I could come to love the idea. Let me see... Gore/Edwards in 2008 I think I like the sound of that.

Anti War - Gore
Mr. Environment - Gore
Payback is Hell - Gore
Support for the Working Poor - Edwards

Now that Katrina has turned over the rock and shown America and the world the truth about poverty and the suffering that results and the effectiveness of this administration in dealing with it, Edwards' meesage from 2004 rings a lot truer in a much larger population that it did.

Timing couldn't be better in my humble opinion.

It's Raining Hard and It's Very Windy

I am sitting here in the hotel room watching CNN Japan which is feeding the real time coverage of Rita coming ashore in south LA. It is getting a little repititous and not a little bit stupid. Are they surprised that in the middle of a big ass hurricane that it is raining hard and very windy. Anderson Cooper looks like something the cat dragged in and is very close to being blown away. Still talking about how hard it is raining and how windy it is. Yes Cooper it is very windy and raining very hard. Are you surprised? You're expecting what?
I guess it is like when you lose a filling in a tooth. You just can't keep your tongue away from it no matter what.
I hope everybody gets through this ok and it is not funny but the coverage is starting to get silly.

Update: It's about 2 hours later and Anderson Cooper is still talking about how windy it is and how hard it is raining. I think the storm is pretty much on top of him so he's really surprised that it is really raining harder and it is much windier. He's still out in it. I hope he doesn't believe showing us how brave he is. Dumb ass.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wandering in Tokyo

Tokyo is amazing in that there are little pockets of relative quiet amongst the absolute madness of this many people packed together over hundreds of square miles.
Tokyo is a crowded city. Tokyo Metropolitan prefecture, with a total area of 2,168 square kilometers (837 square miles), has a population of about 12 million, or about 14,339 people per square mile. Many who work in Tokyo commute from neighboring prefectures, such as Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, making the population of "greater" Tokyo, the area within a 30 mile radius of the city center, around 30 million. This is one-quarter of the entire population of Japan.
Today I wandered over to Hamarikyu Gardens. It is a classic Japanese garden of the Edo period located along a tidal basin off Tokyo Bay. One minute you a walking along surrounded by tall buildings and hundreds of people and then when through the gate you are surrounded by quiet and cool and green. It was a nice stroll and convenient enough to my hotel so I could walk. I would rank it as a must see if you visit Tokyo. I even got a chance to see some street performers at the gate doing some impressive juggling and balancing with everyday things like china tea pots.
I think tonight is an attempt to take night photos along the Ginza. We'll see.


I know it has been rather quiet over here and I really don't have a specific reason. Maybe it is everything combined. I am half a world away and while I do have Intenet access at night and on the weekends in Tokyo I am 180 degrees out of phase with the rest of the blogosphere. I'm tired of being here now and while the overall the trip is a success professionally it was/is not rewarding emotionally. While the client does speak some English it is not great and my ear for foriegn language is poor so I struggle to communicate and understand. I have a justifiable fear that I am missing a lot of nuance. Two more days at the client to wrap up and then I can head home. Maybe I won't feel so helpless about everything going on with Iraq, Katrina, Rita and Roberts once I am back on the same side of the world.
I must say that everyone is doing a great job and reading everyone's blogs does help me feel I am still part of the real world.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Holy Moly! Cat 5 and Getting Stronger

All you people anywhere near the projected path of this monster better be prepared and if you can get the hell out of her way because Rita is going to be a monster by the time she hits land. She is already a Category 5 with winds of 165 mph and she is just going to get stronger. I sure can't remember anytime in my 56 years of living in the Southeast when we have had two such storms back to back. From

Hurricane Rita's rapid intensification cycle that began Tuesday afternoon continues. Top winds are up to 165 mph, now a category 5 hurricane. Even as a large and extremely intense category 5 hurricane, further strengthening is possible as the atmosphere remains favorable for development over the next 24 hours.

I hope everyone makes it through this one. We're thinking of you. While selfish, I can't imagine what it would be like for my wife to have to deal with something like this while I am so far away and I am glad this thing is not headed for Atlanta.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Get Your War On

Just a little reminder that there is still an unjust, totally fubar war going on and that people are dying everyday for absolutely no justifiable reason. I know there other serious things going on but don't get distracted.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hoisted On His Own Petard

One of my colleagues sent me this link. It's hilarious and an amazing bit of audio wizardry.

Transcribed from an incredibly painstaking, well-crafted satire of Rush Limbaugh created by WNNX-FM (Atlanta, GA).

"Sung" by Rush Limbaugh, using sound clips of his own voice from his radio broadcasts!

Here is the first stanza;

They say that I'm sleaze
An elitist, if you please
Everybody disagrees with my rap (with his rap)
I'm horrendous, I'm appalling
My ratings now are falling
'Cause I'm so full of bull, so full of crap (full of crap)
With condescending cries,
Making money selling lies,
You might say everybody hates my guts (hates his guts)
I'm offensive, I'm a bigot
I'm a fraud - Can you dig it?
I'm a sexist, racist, homophobic, fat, pathetic putz
I can't imagine how many hours someone must have spend listening to pigboy to get this put together. Enjoy.

No Question

This is a message to the Senate Democrats and to any Independents or Rethuglicans who wish to listen.

If you vote to confirm John Roberts as the new Chief Justice of the United States I will declare you a blood enemy and will do everything within my meager power to insure you lose your elected office. It's crunch time folks and regardless of the outcome your vote will label you forever. There is absolutely no excuse for a Democrat to vote to confirm this creep. There is absolutely no upside for a Democrat that votes to confirm.

This will likely be the last Chief Justice I see appointed in my lifetime and it will sorely piss me off to see this man in the highest judicial post in the land. He is highly unqualified based on exprience on the bench and he is philosphicaly 180 degrees out of step with the principles our founding fathers cherished and attempted to instill into the Constitution of the United States.

If you want or need another enemy then go for it.

Not Again!

Let me see if I get this straight. We are going to let the same idiots that enabled the puppet government in Iraq lose nearly 2 billion dollars( that's billion with a b) of our money on worthless crap have free reign with another $200 billion. Are we really so stupid as to allow this to happen without a fight?

I can already see it now. We pay outrageous sums to sleazy contractors or bush-buddy corporations to build overpriced, poor quality and otherwise substandard housing using labor at basically slave wages who will not even be able to buy the shit their are building. The money will disappear without a trace and after it has changed hands a few times it will wind up in the pockets of poeple who already have more money than they can ever spend.

As sure as a dog returns to its own vomit these cretins will use the disaster in New Orleans to line their pockets, screw the poor, pickpocket the middle class and in general screw the working people of the nation. It is their 'modus operandi" if you will and if the media and so called opposition party had any balls they would be saying the same thing I am.

When I stop and think of how my taxes over the last few years have been used and contemplate how they will be used over the next I get so disgusted and wonder what kind of hell have I turned up in.

Culinary Suicide?

Well, another first in the food adventures in Japan. This being a national holiday in Japan the company cafeteria was closed. Feeling sorry for us the client offered to drive us for lunch. I was feeling a little trepidation when he pulled into 7-11. What is the Japanese equivalent of a bean burrito?

What a surprise! There was a whole section of prepared food. There were complete Japanese meals in little partitioned trays with all kind of colorful but unidentifiable things. Single meal boxes of pork and chicken and fish. Yes, there was even sushi. Our host insisted it was all very fresh and safe. I selected some little fried chicken units and a salad bowl and it was quite nice. I feel nothing yet.

No, I didn't have sushi. I couldn't bring myself to buy sushi in a 7-11. I even commented to our host that in the U.S. eating sushi from a 7-11, if they had it, would surely be paramount to suicide and a slow and painful death it would surely be.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

On Not Winning

David Mamet the novelist,screen writer who gave us "Glengarry Glen Ross" has an excellent piece in the LA Times comparing the Democrats and their opposition to the Republicans to poker. It is an excellent bit of writing and very insightful. It is so absolutely an accurate comparison that I had to read it twice. Here is a bit.

ONE NEEDS TO know but three words to play poker: call, raise or fold.

Fold means keep the money, I'm out of the hand; call means to match your opponents' bet. That leaves raise, which is the only way to win at poker. The raiser puts his opponent on the defensive, seizing the initiative. Initiative is only important if one wants to win.

In poker, one must have courage: the courage to bet, to back one's convictions, one's intuitions, one's understanding. There can be no victory without courage. The successful player must be willing to wager on likelihoods. Should he wait for absolutely risk-free certainty, he will win nothing, regardless of the cards he is dealt.

For example, take a player who has never acted with initiative — he has never raised, merely called. Now, at the end of the evening, he is dealt a royal flush. The hand, per se, is unbeatable, but the passive player has never acted aggressively; his current bet (on the sure thing) will signal to the other players that his hand is unbeatable, and they will fold.

His patient, passive quest for certainty has won nothing.

The Democrats, similarly, in their quest for a strategy that would alienate no voters, have given away the store, and they have given away the country.

Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."

This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail.

The Democrats are anteing away their time at the table. They may be bold and risk defeat, or be passive and ensure it.
Via Corrente

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nano Frenzy

Sunday morning on the Ginza in Tokyo and they are lining up hours before the Apple store opens to get their hands on a Nano. From the reviews I have read it is pretty slick. You have to give Mr. Jobs credit for not resting on his laurels. I can't justify the expense since my iPod is less than a year old but it is tempting.

Huge Mistake, Huge

If you haven't read Cindy Sheehan's post over at Huffingtion's yet it's worth stop. Georgie's cowardice in not meeting with her will turn out to be one of the more fateful of his misadministration.

"A coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave just one."

Love, Respect and Peace

Some of us would wish that the message of Love, Respect and Peace would find a stronger presence in the U.S. while it struggles with the reality of life. The choice between greed and grace is not easy but very rewarding.

At Asakusa, Tokyo. 09/17/05

Lotsa Fish

I made my way to the absolutely unbelievable Tokyo Fish Market this morning. I have never seen such a madhouse. Little motorized haulers going here and there hauling styrofoam boxes of everything "fishy" imaginable. Every thing from the sea is available for sale here and much of it is "on the hoof" so to speak. Hundreds of vendors are hawking seafood to the public and to brokers for distribution across the country. I'm pretty sure I saw my dinner there this morning.

It looks helter skelter and of questionable cleanliness but the sanitation inspectors are in clear evidence. Everything is iced down or being kept alive in tank or aerated bath. There is a surprising number of live creatures bubbling away in tanks or boxes that are then summarily executed at purchase.

The one big exception are the giant tuna or ahi. They are frozen solid and kept so with a diligent application of dry ice. Really a fascinating experience.

My Turn to Cat Blog

This "le Chat Noir" is the resident manager of the hotel in Nasu. He or she keeps the hotel operating at "peak efficiency" from atop the laser printer at the front desk.

Warning and Prophecy

While I couldn’t be further from the old USA right now I want to warn anyone that will listen that you should not, under any circumstances, believe one word of what Dubya Gump is saying.

If he tells you that the “gubmint” is going to do the right thing for those injured and displaced by hurricane Katrina – he’s lying.

If he tells you that he understands the devastation and feels your pain – he’s lying.

If he appoints someone as the “reconstruction czar”, whether Rove or not, know that the appointment will have nothing to do with competence and will be completely political and said appointee will fail completely to do the job.

If he tells you that the cost will be 200 billion dollars then know that it will be 400 billion dollars plus.

If he tells you that inspectors general will monitor every disbursement then know that that those inspectors are political appointees with no experience in auditing.

If he tells you that his political cronies and corporate whores won’t make a windfall profit, then he’s lying.

Everything you will be told will be a lie. If you write down every statement and put it away and then check it for success in 2006 you will see that it failed.

Look back on their record and you will find nothing but failure and lies. There is no better way to say it – a leopard cannot change it’s spots.

The fundamental/essential rule to remember when dealing with this administration is that they are incompetent and liars. In the 5 or so years they have been in office they have used cronyism and political favor to staff virtually every agency of the federal government with incompetents. They have burned through the country’s treasure at a horrendous pace and are promising even more spending. They are spending your great grand children’s money now.

Bushes’ handlers are having his mouth write checks his country can’t cash without a rollback of his tax cuts and some serious sacrifice by those who have succeeded in this country when things were good (remember the Big Dog).

Please consider this a prophecy and I am absolutely confident of it being true.

No Clue

Angry Old Broad has a very thoughful post up talking about the reality of poverty and how until you've been there you just cannot fathom it. Definitely worth a read and some contemplation. She says some things that need saying as many in this country are trying to deal with the images they have seen coming out of the Big Easy.
Thanks Old Broad.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Commute From Hell

The client allows us, at their expense no less, to commute back to Tokyo for the weekend. I think they realize that Nasu is pretty much a wasteland as far as R&R is concerned. Anyhow, I now have the experience of a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend commute under my belt.

There were no reserved seats available on the train and that meant cattle car. I don't think I can do it justice. It must be experienced first hand. Imagine a couple of hundred people crammed into the train car, all seats occupied so the only thing left is the aisle or the space between cars. Everybody is smoking and drinking beer. There are guys rolling up and down the train with trolleys selling beer and snacks. To make room for them you have to become noncoporeal for a minute as there are no options to get out of the way. There are four stops between Nasu and Tokyo and at each one there is an unbelievable transformation where seats are emptied and filled and all in the space of two minutes while the train is stopped. The train immediately accelerates to 100+ mph and we cruise for a beer or two and the whole thing happens again.

Reach Tokyo station and the entire 15 car train empties onto the platform and a kazillion people get on a single lane escalator at once, which, in turn, spills you out into the main terminal where 38 quintillion people are going in some other direction than you. You don't know crowded until you try and find an exit at Tokyo station on Friday night.

I survived it so I am stronger right?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mouth Breathers

Jane has an excellent post up at Firedoglake about the raping and pillaging that Dubya Gump and company are doing. Between the hundreds of billions they are going to spend rebuilding New Orleans ( an you know it will cost at least twice as much as they profess) and the fact that Halliburton was already feeding at the trough before all the bodies were recovered it is so breathtakingly disgusting that I am almost to tears. Couple all of this with the fact that Bush has suspended prevailing wage laws so that his coporate cronies and steal even more and you think you are reading a science fiction novel.

Tom Delay has the audacity to declare that the Repugs have done such a nice job over the last 11 years that the government is running at peak efficiency. WTF!.

Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for impeachment and special prosecutors? I don't know about you but I think I am reaching the saturation point and my head will just explode. I think the last straw may have been realizing that someone let Britney reproduce and that this seems to be more important than the destruction of the United States.

Jane has been on a roll lately and doing some great posts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bad Blogger

I know I am being a slug about the blog but I seem to always be in a crunch for time. The hours here are tough and even the commute to the client from the hotel is painful. It is at least 45 minutes by company bus with a nice healthy walk on either end. I was hoping to have some good pictures to post but it is just light in the morning when we head out and dark when we leave.
I have noted some things that are interesting/different about the Japanese. They are very rule driven and regimented in many ways. One example is cross walks. Almost all crosswalks are equipped with walk/don't walk signals and regardless of the traffic nobody crosses the street against the signal. Another example was last night as we walked to dinner and a fire engine with lights and siren going was stopped for a red light...very odd.
One very good thing I noted the other night after dinner with the client was that there was a driver waiting to drive him home from the restaurant. Seems that there is a service that you can use that will supply a driver to get you home if you plan on having alcohol at dinner. They drive your car (with white gloves on) and there is a car following to pick up the driver when he is finished. Very sensible.
Now that I have interrupted my morning routine to feed the blog beast I will put on my pants and get to work. Oh! Sorry for that image.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Different Than Tokyo

Well, I made it without incident to Nasu, Japan. It is very much not Tokyo. No English to be seen except the ubiquitous McDonalds, KFC, Denny's etc. Yes even here in the hinterlands of Japan. On the little scouting I did yesterday the reason I was told it was a "wasteland" are becoming clear. Not much to see and do except houses, factories and the shops to support them.
Hotel is small but clean with a toilet en suite, no Enlish TV so I am now down to just the internet for news. The hotel does have free high speed...go figure.
Up early and off to the client to see if I can bring this to a closure in the days allowed.

Be Prepared

Jump kits are essential in any preparation for an emergency. As the recent experiences of people who lived in the path of Katrina discovered you had better be prepared to help yourself as you cannot count on the government under this assministration. However, regardless of the who is running the government and disaster services, failing to take responsibility for yourself and your own welfare is negligent and is stupid.

Important Rules

  • Wool is light, fire-resistant, and maintains its insulating properties when wet.
  • Jell-O is a brand of pre-packaged instant gelatin dessert. It's the perfect food for hypothermia. Make the liquid, drink it. Choose a flavor that isn't colored red, so that when the patient vomits in the Emergency Department folks won't think he's bleeding internally.
  • Plumber's candles contain more stearic acid than the regular kind. Very hard, burn a long time. Get 'em at a hardware store.
  • Rule of thumb: Two sources of light; two sources of fire.
  • In a survival situation you live as long as your feet do.
  • In an ambush the killing zone is narrow. Get out of it.
  • If you don't understand what's going on, back off until you do understand.
  • You can live to be ninety without a Rambo knife but hypothermia or dehydration will kill you deader'n dirt by this time tomorrow.
  • A terrorist attack is just a badly-placarded HAZMAT incident.
  • Half-a-tank of gas is empty. Refuel now.
  • Every time you refuel, check your coolant level, your oil level, and your tire pressure.
  • In a survival situation you'll be astounded by how far a car can go with no radiator, no oil, and no tires.
  • If you have an extensive kit in your car, one part should be detachable and easily portable in case you have to abandon your car.
  • Nitrile gloves are better than latex gloves because: Tape won't stick to 'em; there's less chance of allergic reactions; punctures produce large rips so you know they're breached; and they have higher resistance to HAZMATs.
  • Without a traction splint a femur fracture is 80% fatal. With proper traction splinting, it's only 20% fatal. Learn to make a field-expedient traction splint.
  • Alcohol and disaster don't mix.
  • Some situations are non-survivable. Think ahead. Stay out of those situations.
  • Never ignore a warning, even if it doesn't make any sense to you at the time.
  • Check the batteries in your smoke detector.
  • Brush your teeth, wear your seatbelt, quit smoking, wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet, and look both ways before crossing the street.
The above link to Debra and Doyle MacDonald's site will get you started and there are excellent links on the page to get you more information.
The first rule of emergency preparedness is to assume the worst and never forget Murphy's Law. If something can go wrong it will.

No Slack

Here is something worth Newsweek gives a brutal take on how Dubya blew it.

Bureaucratic timidity. Bad phone lines. And a failure of imagination. Why the government was so slow to respond to catastrophe.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bad Moon Rising

Via Wolcott

Something to think about while we see the results of Dubya Gump's leadership in action.

James Howard Kunstler also sees a bad moon rising in the wake of Katrina.

"Meanwhile momentous things are swirling in the background. The price of gasoline may retreat sometime in two to six weeks, but I doubt it will fall below the $2.50 range again. In fact, having gone way above the psychological barrier of $3.00, the gasoline retailers may resist falling below that. There have been no new oil refineries built in the US since the late 1970s. There will be no new ones built now, despite the crunch on refined 'product.' Why? Because the oil companies understand that they are in a twilight industry and refineries represent huge investments in future activity, which the corporations correctly perceive will be shrinking as global oil production passes peak.

"The biggest shock to the public lies a couple of months ahead when the cost of natural gas for home heating (50 percent of the dwellings in America) combines with stubbornly higher pump prices to whap them upside the head. Natural gas at around $12.00 is now many times what it cost as recently as 2003 ($3.00). A lot of Americans will be shivering this winter and some of the weak, old, and poor will die as a result....

"Strapped for cash from filling their gas tanks, unable to buy Christmas presents at WalMart, and huddled around space heaters, the public will be wondering why they were so poorly prepared."

Oh The Burden

I accidently blundered into an article by Thomas Friedman this morning and I must say he has evidently found a new drug. One paragraph really jumps at you screaming clarity of vision and deep insight. That's all I have to say, the paragraph speaks for itself.

Because most Democrats have opposed the war from the start, and many Republicans no longer support the war per se, but only George Bush. The president has carried this war on his shoulders, and the more he's weakened politically by Katrina, the less he will be able to carry. Yes, Mr. Bush has said we'll do whatever it takes to finish the job in Iraq, but he said that before there was another huge job to do.

Emphasis mine.

Getting Focused

While I have only the internet and CNN Japan for input over here there are few things that seem to be abundantly clear.
First of all, Karl Rove's fingerprints are all over the replacement but not firing of Brown. This is classic stuff. One of Karl's favourite strategies is to deflect the issue and to give the press an alternate target and take the heat off the Dubya Gump. We shouldn't let him get away with this again and again. Dubya has the ultimate responsibility for those he appoints. End of discussion.

Secondly, all this discussion and nit picking over the details of what went wrong and who is to blame is merely another distraction from the essence of the situation. The root cause of the whole thing is that planning for the emergency and the execution of the non plan was flawed and incomplete period. The essence of planning for an emergency or disaster is to follow, without variance, Murphy's Law. It applies to every facet of emergency planning.

  • We didn't count on the levees breaking - Murphy predicted it.
  • We didn't count on the looting and violence - Murphy did.
  • We didn't count on the failures of the pumps - Murphy was sure of it.
  • We didn't plan for so many refugees - Murphy coulda told ya.
  • We didn't know the hospitals would be out of commission - ditto
  • Ecetera, ecetera, ecetera
It's endless. The reality is that you should even plan for your plan to fail.

Any thing and everything that the adminstration is trying to use to distract us from the reality of the situation should have been part of any effective reponse plan. We need to keep hammering on the complete and utter failure of our government under the non-leadership of Dubya Gump in planning and executing a comprehensive response to the emergency. We should do it now and often and let them put it off until the time is of their own choosing. We need to counteract their spin with hard words and effective action.
There are no excuses and no crying in emergency preparedness. Absolutely none.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lots of People

While I have visited Japan and Tokyo before this is first time I have had to travel outside downtown Tokyo (beyond taxi). It is almost an overwhelming experience. First of all, Tokyo Station is absolutely huge and the amount of sensory input is vast with most of it totally incomprehensible to someone who doesn't speak more that 20 phrases of Japanese and cannot read the first bit. Add to this confusion is a cajillion people going in every direction. I was fortunate to have a local as guide or I would probably still be standing in the middle of the crowd wondering where to buy a ticket. There are evidently different systems and each has it's own ticket counter. There are a lot of messages on the electronic boards in English but it is translation English and doesn't necessarily correspond to what you might think.
Tickets bought and you are assigned a car and seat and there is specific place on the one of what may be a 100 platforms where the door to your car will stop and open for a couple of minutes. The train will absolutely leave on time.

Once on the train the ride is smooth and comfortable and very quiet even though you are traveling like a bat out of hell. I must say the scenery is a little wanting and while there a few rice fields and stuff to see most of Japan seems to be urban or urban sprawl with a a high density mix of apartment buildings with what appear to be very small apartments. A little disappointing.

My goal for tonight is to sleep a full 8 hours and not wake at 4am (3pm EDT) and then try and spend Saturday figuring out the subway system.

So I am back in my hotel in Tokyo after a one day trip North to be introduced to the client. Sunday I will head back North and spend the week at the client and travel back to Tokyo for the weekend. From what I saw of Nasu on the taxi ride to the client there is not much to entertain there and explains why the client pays for our weekends in Tokyo.

As a side note you may or may not be as depressed as I am with respect to the number of "Golden Arches" I saw in the several hundred mile train trip today or with the fact that the first thing you see as you step out of the hotel in the heart of the Ginza is a freaking Denny's. Gimme a break!

I was hoping to be able to post a picture tonight but most of what I got was a blurry telephone pole whizzing by....I will try and do better tomorrow.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reporting from Tokyo

I might be able to stay awake long enough to publish this but then again maybe not. Anyhow, here safe and sound though for some reason I couldn't sleep on the plane so I am dragging. Otherwise uneventful journey. Settled here in the heart of the Ginza and will meet colleagues tonight for a fast dinner nearby. Will try and post a bit more later or tomorrow. Right now rain locker and try and stay awake for another 3 or 4 hours.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Shell Shocked

With the pressures of work and the planning for an undefined stay out of the country coupled with the fast influx of bad news I can't even start to keep up with all the incompetence and lies of Bush and company now that Katrina's worst in known. Every news story I read about the bungled response from every level of government especially from the federal idiots sends me screaming. Why aren't there more questions about the cronyism that put Michael Brown in the position to kill so many people with his incompetence? The theory that his staff is supposed to cover his ignorant ass falls apart when you look at their qualifications to lead a national crisis management function. Out country is like a third world nation with respect to this disaster. I am utterly disgusted and am having trouble even comprehending what the next 3 years will bring.
Goddess save us all.
My left wing hippy yippy pinko commie gay loving consorts here in the left blogtopia(see blogroll) are doing a fine job of covering all the bases while I sit here shell shocked and speechless. You'd think someone who had experienced Nam, civil rights, JFK, MLK, RFK getting assasinated, landing on the moon, Kent State, Watts, 9/11, and Iraq and more could come to grips with thousands of innocent Americans dying from the incompetence of out ficticious leader. My bad.
I will check in, I hope, from Tokyo in a day or so. I will arrive(9/8) on my 56th birthday so you guys are off the hook for neat presents but I do expect someone to tell me happy birthday.

P.S. Delta just called and I did manage to get upgraded to business class for tomorrow's flight. Some good news.

Pigs in Shit

I was on the telephone but I think I just heard Barbara Bush on CNN say that the people warehoused in Houston with nothing but the clothes on their backs and broke with no hope were better off now since this was better that most of them knew as they were mostly poor people and didn't have that much to lose. I am actually incredulous, and speechless.
I gotta run right now but I will look around and see if I can find a link to the quote a little later.

Update: here is the quote from Lady Bush

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (she chuckled)--this is working very well for them."

Going Crazy

Sorry for the quiet. Going crazy trying to get everything done before I have to be out of the country for what may be a month and a half. The biggest hassle has been trying to get enough of several of my prescriptions for the trip. Thought I would save some money and hassle by trying mail order through the online pharmacy connected to my health insurance and it has been one of the most frustrating experiences I have had in a long time. First, they kept insisting that the multiple faxed prescriptions from my doctor were not received. I was getting emails letting me know that while I was also receiving emails telling me that some were shipped. I get half the prescriptions in the mail today and instead of a 90 day supply they are for thirty days and after 15 minutes trying to get to a real live human via they automated customer service I find that since the doctor wrote the prescriptions for a month but refillable 6 times they can only fill a 30 day supply. The gotcha here is that the fine print says that they charge you the copay for a 90 day supply regardless of the presciption filled. So now I have only a months worth of drugs but I got to pay for 90 days worth twice. Some deal. Now I will have to go down and beg my local pharmacist to sell me enough to get me through and pay full price for them since my health insurance won't pay anymore this month. If you use Medco/365Wellst be prepared for the hassle of you life.
Second, since Citibank ATMs are the only option for American issued cards in Japan I called Citibank to alert them that I would be in Japan and was informed that since I hadn't charged anything on the Platinum Citi Mastercard in 6 months they had cancelled the card. No notice. At least I found out before I was standing cashless in the Ginza wondering why my card didn't work. Will have to carry enough cash to cover me for the stay which is not really a problem in Japan since it is probably the safest country in the world. The hotels will at least take AmEx.
Last but not least I see on the news this morning that Tokyo is flooded due to massive rain. I guess I had better pack waders as well.
The joys of travel!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Home Again

Back Home...Damn it's a long way to drive to Northern Arkansas. Feeling a little guilty about trying to squeeze in a little vacation but I promise I didn't know Katrina was "The One". You know "The One" that we have known for years was going to hit New Orleans or at least close enough to breach a levee and turn the city into a freaking lake. You know "The One" that we should have had a plan in place to deal with.
While I am not a specialist in disaster management I have read a few books in which disasters happened which I guess makes me more qualified that Mr. Brown. The first rule of planning for a disaster is to assume that the worst will happen and plan, to the limits of your resources, for that event. If the worst doesn't happen you have wasted nothing because Murphy and his law(s) are still in effect and sooner or later the shit will hit the fan.
We have witnessed the epitome of synergy when it comes to Katrina and the Bush administration's response.
What happens when an irrestible force meets an unbelieveable incompetence?

Hit's Keep Coming

Via Americablog. This just continues from the previous post. It is almost to criminal to believe.

From a press release LA Senator Mary Landrieu sent out today:
But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young annd old - deserve far better from their national governmeent.

Behind the Curtain

Just in case you aren't frustrated enough by the Bush administrations demonstration of incompetence take a look at what a Dutch commenter posted on Laura Rozen's blog War and Piece
Dutch viewer Frank Tiggelaar writes:

There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

I believe a good argument could be made that this is actually criminal behavior. This is actually not that much different from the "chicken dance" we have seen before on such things as Iraq, Social Security, environment, taxes...well pretty much everything. The primary guiding principles of this administration seem to be partisan discipline, industry giveaways, and relentless lying on any and everything. These tactics have been working pretty pretty well, at least on the sheep, when it didn't hit so close to home. When it hits you in the face and happens next door it suddenly becomes obvious even to your supporters that Bush and company are total fuck ups. It's taken over two years for some people to realize that Iraq is a total shit storm and that virtually everything about this misadventure is a result of Bush incompetence. It's taken less than a week to realize it about New Orleans. I guess that's progress.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Your Choice but Choose and DO

Your choices for Hurricane Relief (stolen from Billmon)

The American Red Cross
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Provides a full spectrum of services to disaster victims, including shelter, medical care, food, clean water and assisting with cleanup efforts.

America's Second Harvest
Donation link: Click here
Relief focus: Transports food to victims and secures additional warehouse space to assist member food banks in resuming and maintaining operations.
Catholic Charities USA
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Community based relief efforts focused on the long-terms needs of disaster victims and affected communities.

Direct Relief International
Donation link: Click here
Relief focus:Serves as a private back-up support to official emergency response efforts in the United States.

Feed The Children
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Mobilizing and distributing supplies in hurricane devastated areas.

Habitat for Humanity
Donation link: Click here
Relief focus: Helping disaster victims rebuild piece by piece and house by house.

Humane Society of the United States
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Dispatching Disaster Animal Response Teams (DARTs) to rescue animals and assist their caregivers.

Noah's Wish
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Keeping animals alive during disasters.

The Salvation Army
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Providing hot meals to displaced disaster victims and emergency personnel working to aid those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

United Jewish Communities
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Community organized and administered humanitarian relief for disaster victims.

United Methodist Committee on Relief
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: General community-based disaster relief, as well as the creation and distribution of "flood buckets" -- a relief item for those who prefer to donate with a personal touch.

United Way
Donation Link: Click here
Relief focus: Identifying serious needs of devastated communities and helping not only with front-line disaster relief but with long-term recovery.

Travel Day

Travel Day today. NW Arkansas to Memphis. Will be interesting to see the level of traffic and to see if there are any issues with gas. Prices bounce to $3 or so here in the heartland and I paid $2.989 yesterday in Kansas City. I was expecting worse. I expect as we get closer to the east coast for there to be some issues and higher prices since that is where more of the demand is.
BTW if you are ever in Kansas City make sure you visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum it is amazing what the salvaged from the 1856 wreck. 200 tons of stuff destined for frontier. Its a regular general store. Shoes, clothers, hardware, dishes, pots, tools, food everything you might expect to need as you set up housekeeping in the new territory.
Kansas City has also done a great job of restoring and adaptive use of the Union Station. Amtrak still services it but the rest is shops etc. Very nice and a gorgeous example of beaux arts architecture.
Ok, OK. Winslow's BBQ is the place for BBQ. Down in the old farmer's market area 5th and Main I think, and worth the stop. I highly recommend the burnt ends and sausage plate with your choice of sides.
Enough travelog for today. Will try and post some later from the hotel in Memphis and maybe some pictures as well.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's Over

Well the golfing is over for this vacation. No small animals killed, No humans seriously injured. Only a couple of dozen lost balls. I don't believe any trees were permanently injured (DrMax). Now it is off to Kansas City to see the Steamship Arabia exhibit...looking forward to it. Back here to Arkansas tomorrow and then back to Atlanta Saturday if there is gas to be found. My daughter called from Atlanta last night to see if it was as insane here as there. Evidently there is widespread panic and long lines at pumps and the always present jerk who is trying to gouge his fellow man with $4.99 gas. I hope it won't be to difficult to find gas along I40. I will fill up here and then need two fills from about 3/4 to get back to the house. I have a Hyundai that gets pretty good mileage even though it is a 6.
That's it for the update..maybe more later.