Hot on the heels of the last post, here’s another one for you, to keep your brain ticking these long August days – or short August days – we don’t discriminate against hemispheres here!

Japan should lose its reputation for having the oldest people in the world. Sure, the population is ageing, but since the oldest man and woman in the world have recently shown up to be a) dead, b) missing, or c) likely both, then you not only have to call into question the sanity of those involved, but also the method which the government uses to keep track of people, for example the 105 centenarians missing in Kobe.

In Japan, current PM Naoto Kan is now trying to back out of comments he made regarding the raising of the sales tax from 5% to 10%. Despite that it is something that should have been down ten years ago, it is (naturally) unpopular with the electorate and runs the risk of lowering consumer confidence even more.Some good news though; house prices are falling in Japan too. How about looking to immigration to fix the population problem? Don’t count on it…

One of my awesome friends found this story about the shameful state of airport security in the USA. When a journalist can get through airport security onto a plane with a fake boarding pass, fake ID, carrying bottles of liquid, also carrying a Hizbollah flag, while wearing a ‘I ♥ Osama’ t-shirt, it really makes you wonder if anyone really cares or not. As George Carlin once said, airport security is there to give an illusion of safety so that white people can feel safe. I like the phrase the writer uses though; security theater (sic). It makes compelling, if not slightly enraging reading.

The Green Revolution changed the world after the Second World War. As the world seemed to spiral toward a future of over-population and under-nourishment, one man, Norman Boulaug, sought to change that. His three-pronged approach; to create better strains of seed, boost irrigation and develop better chemical fertilizers worked like a charm. The problem now is that we are now running out of fresh water, and to make chemical fertilizer requires oil and natural gas, which we’re also running out of. Borlaug himself saw the Green Revolution as a quick fix, asking governments to come up with longer term solutions, including solving underlying issues of population and poverty. Needless to say, we’re about to reap the reward of doing nothing about them…

Obama is turning into a president even more indecisive than Bush. Just look at his recent non-actions. For example, one promise was to remove combat troops from Iraq by September 2010. He’s now quietly dropped that promise, even renaming the brigades so semantically they aren’t ‘combat’ any more. Politics really is childish sometimes, except when there are nuclear weapons involved. That may be part of something else that Obama is wishing would go away, and that is the thought of Israel attacking Iran, sparking a wider conflict in the Middle East. Then there’s the collapsing economy, destroying the fabric of the USA from within, creating a failed state. There must be something very wrong with your country when you are cutting back public services, changing fundamental laws and basic human rights, inventing new forms of discrimination against black people and the poor, failing to stop the emergence of a right wing religion-fuelled fascist state, allowing a revolving door between government and industry to continue,  ripping up paved roads so you don’t have to maintain them any more, turning off street lights at night to save power, failing to heed your own lessons from history, not taking care of the long term unemployed or the poor, making education optional and closing public libraries, meanwhile pouring billions into fighting unsustainable wars and gutting entire sections of the country as a consequence… Something has got to give. As the man who predicted the Dow Jones’ spectacular rise in the 1980s now is readying himself for a similar spectacular fall. His advice? “Buy a farm you can tend to yourself way out in the boondocks. And protect it with high voltage fences, barbed wire, booby traps, military weapons and Dobermans.”

These were interesting reads on how the USA is completely missing the boat when it comes to “winning hearts and minds” in Afghanistan.

So how’s that 50 year oil spill in the Niger Delta coming along?

In a further nod to sci-fi, those miniature flying drones are coming to a peaceful demonstration near you, and a company is producing drones that can lock together. Minority Report really does have a lot to answer for…

In Japan, Disney stuff is everywhere. It’s nowadays almost synonymous with being Japanese. I’ve seen 70 year old women draped in Disney characters like it’s normal – and it isn’t. But in a way it does make sense. Japanese pop culture celebrates the infant and the infantile. It’s almost like the ultimate person to aspire to being is an 8 year old girl, so in that context, the celebration of all things Disney kinda makes sense. I tell people I don’t like Disney and am always met with gasps of disbelief. I can tell you if I ever do have a child, and anyone gives me anything made by the Walt Disney company, it will end up in the bin. Here’s why.

It is great to see Australia taking the lead on tackling the problem of homelessness.

A giant island of ice has broken off in Greenland, which may be related to global warming, or not, but the injection of enough water to supply the entire USA for 120 days into the ocean is surely going to do something, right? In that vein, at least scientist and religious fundamentalists are starting to agree that the end of the world may be nigh. A growing number of scientists believe the whole road to ruin began with the development of agriculture.

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