I watched a great documentary about Motown the other night, so please excuse the Marvin Gay reference. There is a lot going on at the moment. Let’s go through some things. Bear with me.

I recently read James Kunstler’s The Long Emergency“, and I’d thoroughly recommend you do too. It’s affecting my long-term goals and aspirations in a big way. To summarize, it’s about the passing of Peak Oil and what is likely to unfold. It makes for some scary reading, but it’s also serving to be inspirational. I might have to expand on this at some point… but not at the moment. More thinking and reading to do.

The USA’s Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden – in Pakistan. That’s a sovereign nation where the US military is not supposed to be operating. According to a spokesman, the US Special Forces currently operate in 75 countries, and that number is set to increase over the next year – to 120. It’s one thing to have a diplomatic presence in a country, but it’s something else to have an active military one – especially when you don’t notify the host government about what you’re up to. Will there be more operations? You betcha. Will that only serve to increase anti-American sentiment, when they should be considering pulling out of these sorts of situations? You can definitely count on that. For example, the USA recently signed a secret pact to stay in Afghanistan until 2024.

The US really should do something about its own record on human rights before tramping around the world telling everyone else they should enact their own human rights laws. But hey, when in the past 60 years hasn’t the US been tramping the world, telling people how they should live?

The unnofficial case against the Western protagonists of the Iraq War continues to build, with MI5 coming out saying they told Tony Blair Iraq was no threat to the West. Also Dick Cheney’s memoirs are out in which he continues to unapologetically defend his actions and policies. Can someone arrest these scumbags ASAP, please? There are more and more officials who would be willing to testify against them. Let’s do it! Oh, wait. Americans are now too distracted, too conditioned and too afraid to do anything. Also, the conservatives are busy setting up a gerrymander to keep as many potential Democrat voters out of the voting booth as they can. Looks like the real terrorists have won…

Alternet is becoming a go-to place for effective analysis of the American Republican Party’s policies and personalities as the 2012 election starts to gear up. Essentially, they’re all lying scumbags, but at least one can have a solid intellectual foundation for explaining why. Obama isn’t any better by the way. Ron Paul isn’t a viable option out of the crazies. If ever there was a time for a solid ‘third-way’ candidate to make a difference, this would be the time. I don’t expect it to happen though.

The new economic reality of America is changing the way people live and work. For example, here is a piece about Workampers. Nothing new, you might say, but it’s happening more and more as the US economy stalls big time. Here’s something else about how car washes are turning into sweatshops, along with chocolate factories, or how students in trouble are turning to that old standby, sex work.

The Eurozone is slowly moving towards a major existential crisis…

The Australian government tried to pass a law enabling them to send refugees arriving by boat to Malaysia for processing. That was shot down by the High Court. This article goes through the situation and some of the implications very nicely. Personally I’m very disappointed that the supposed left-wing Labour Party have ended up following the policies of the deposed conservative Liberal Party, in particular its 90s poster-boy, John Howard. Very disappointed indeed. Looks like the current PM could be headed to the chopping block since her criticisms of the decision have made her looking bitter, or in the words of the High Court, “‘irresponsible … extraordinary, unfair and curious”.

Woolworths and Coles are essentially the Walmart of Australia, with the recent price wars highlighting their dirty campaign to remove other brands from their shelves and replace them with their own ‘home brands’.

They’re talking the high-speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne again, again.

Oh, and quietly, Australia’s internet is now censored.

Moving back home is going to be quite interesting. It’s been ten yen years since I lived in Australia. Australia has always been a culture of haves and have nots – and the haves seem to become a bunch of over-indulged, whiny douchebags. It’ll be entertaining, at least…

But they are doing one thing right though. The Australian Government may soon pass laws that will, in effect, bankrupt the Scientologists. By legally defining the meaning of ‘charity’, they may be able to force the ‘church’ to back pay its workers millions of dollars, as well as the taxes owed on those wages.

An interesting look at the benefits of ‘lazy parenting’. I know it’s ironic that I’m a part of the industry responsible for the over-scheduling of children, depriving them of creative free time and the chance to enjoy their childhoods. However, I do believe that learning English is going to be become indispensable as global communication becomes a key for survival and prosperity in this current world. You can take your abacus-learning, flower-arranging and calligraphy clubs, along with your cram-schools and drown them in the sea for all I care about what good they’ll bring. (They reinforce a lot of negative attitudes that the Japanese have; namely Japanese exceptionalism, the culture of overwork, as well as teaching useless skills.)

With all the media’s attention focussed recently on the riots in London, someone or some group of people have been engaged in a campaign of torching luxury cars across Germany for some time now. Are there still areas of Paris that are set alight every summer, where the police fear to tread? The cities are becoming war zones…

Some more climate changey type things going on. The ice sheet on Greenland is starting to break up, with massive ice islands being calved and glaciers shrinking.

People in Japan always seem surprised when I tell them I hate Disney and everything about the Disney company. This article (and subsequent book) go a along way to explaining why. Essentially, Disney’s business model is based on targetting children – as young as six months old – in order to condition them to a certain world view, based on conformity to stereotypical roles and bland consumerism. If I ever have children, I will actively ban them from exposure to the Disney company, and if any friends give me anything for them from the Disney company, it will be burnt. Joyfully. Sorry.

The James Randi Educational Foundation has had a $1 million challenge for a number of years now. It’s getting pushed again since they’ve challenged some prominent media ‘psychics’ to prove their ‘ powers’ are real. One has made overtures, but we’ll see if any actually take on the skeptics. In her words, she’s the ‘real thing’ so she doesn’t have to worry about taking scientific tests to prove her abilities are real. Huh? I guess we just have to take her words for it. PLEASE don’t give these sorts of scumbags any money!!

As the military are always looking to get their mitts on the latest technology, you can be sure that invisibility cloaks will soon be coming to an army near you.

Lebowski.

I watched John Pilger’s most recent documentary, “The War You Don’t See” today.

As always, John Pilger takes the viewer through a topic of important relevance to the life and freedom of all of us who live in Western Democracies. In this case it is the role of information, journalism and war in shaping our values and attitudes. The active collusion between the military and the news corporations is explored by Pilger. However a large proportion of the film also focusses on the victims of such policies: the citizens of the countries who are attacked, as well as the journalists who have been killed, sometimes by the same military they’ve been sent to cover. It is certainly harrowing viewing at times. The footage and dexcriptions of horrors by those who were there remain a lingering memory.

It is certainly the war you don’t see, and Pilger prefaces such footage and episodes by repeating the title screen in order to drive home his point.

I would say this documentary should be necessary viewing by all citizens who want to make truly balanced and well-informed decisions about what they decide to believe, as well as by journalists who should know better than to simply tow the line when it comes to reporting what governments tell them to.

Buy the DVD or watch for free any way you can.

 

Pilger was supposed to be presenting his film in the United States at an event sponsored by the Lannan Foundation, a very prominent liberal organisation, on June 15th. However, his appearance and the screening of the film was cancelled unexpectedly at the order of Patrick Lannan. Lannan has not offered any reason for the cancellation.

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.

So, I have two weeks off and a massive backlog of articles I’ve been reading through over the past few weeks to share. The World Cup dominated my free time during June and July, so I apologise for the delay in posting stuff.

I’ll deal with the serious stuff first then do another post with a distinctively lighter tone. Two-tone posts? The 70s aren’t dead!

It’s been hot here in Japan, but in Russia they’ve been dealing with the hottest temperatures on record, forest fies and many deaths from the application of sun, water and alcohol.

Oil spill first. Apparently since the cap finally started working the oil has disappeared – or just found a way to hide. If most of it has sunk then it’s going to foul up the sea floor wonderfully for the next goodness-knows-how-long.

It’s election season in Australia and it’s going to be an interesting one. In one corner you have another victim of the Obama Factor (promising much, delivering little, and actually smells a lot like the previous head(s?) of state), Julia Gillard. Australians are quickly growing tired of novelty (first female PM, first redhead PM) and want substance. The problem with Gillard is that in trying to please everyone, she’s going to please no one. In the second corner, you have Tony Abbot, a religious nut who speaks before he thinks. Australia under him could become a quasi-theocracy – something that many sensible Aussies gag at the thought of. In the third corner, you have the Greens. Prone to a bit of in-fighting, yet they have something that the ‘main two’ parties are sorely lacking in at this point: sensible policies. They are poised to seize the balance of power, and affect real change.

Oh yeah, blink if you missed it, but the Autralian government censored 90% of a document about their internet strategy to stop “premature” debate. That means they don’t want anyone to know what they want to do until after the election, when they have three years to impose censorship on the internet with no one to stop them. Disgusting.

And a full one third of Australians now believe that human and the dinosaurs existed at the same time, highlighting the plight of science education in a country that used to be able to pride itself on having a collective IQ greater than that of the USA….

The US occupation of the Middle East continues to draw unwanted attention from serious journalists who refuse to tow the line of the military and the White House. Good for them – long may it continue! (The tradition of good journalism – not the occupation) For example, there’s the story of the Pentagon losing over $87 billion. That’s more than the entire GDP of Tunisia. But that’s small potatoes compared to the ludicrous amounts being funnelled into doomed projects. You have to wonder at the logic that sees the US buying Russian helicopters for the fledgling Afghan air force to fly – since that’s the era of aircraft the only trained pilots know how to fly. There’s also the story of how US soldiers are being brainwashed with ‘positive thinking’, the persistent disturbing links to Israel and Zionism, John McCain thinks that the USA has alreaady won the ‘war’ in Iraq,

The wikileaks story has shined a very bright spotlight on what has become a very dark stain on human history, the US occupation of Afghanistan. For example, when they aren’t being killed by outsiders, the Afghans are often turning on each other, meaning the whole notion of the US withdrawing forces is another Obama pipe dream.

Some economic stuff. The situation in Japan is still in a process of slow disintegration. Unemployment (and under-employment) are still high. This in-depth article from Time describes the situation very well.

The situation in the USA continues to spiral out of control. There’s so much out there that is interesting to read, so I’ll just link here, here, here, here and here, and hope your clicking will do the rest.

The housing situation in the US and Australia also makes for some interesting, and scary reading.

That’ll do for today. And since the puter crashed I lost all the fun links. Boo! But trust me there is funny stuff in the world too. Enjoy.

…nearly the end of 2009. Going by some of my previous ‘doom and gloom’ posts it must be a wonder we’re still around. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people in the world, with natural disasters duking it out with economic crises for creating havoc in civilization.

I must say I am pleasantly surprised to still be able to do this and not be scrounging the Japanese countryside for scraps of food. Maybe that will happen next year…?

When you really think about it, 2009 has been a year of great disappointment. At the end we’re still locked in a cycle of deep recession (depression) with no end in sight. Obama must have been a consistent let-down for those who truly believed he could make a difference. Heck, even Tiger Woods, the Golden Boy of golf has shown he is only, completely and thoroughly, nay, spectacularly, human.

The summit at Copenhagen is nearly done and with leaders from around the world jetting in for the final hob-nobbing (and with various media outlets savaging them for the emissions generated) it’s becoming clear that despite the rhetoric no one is clearly serious enough about doing what needs to be done to save human civilization from climate change. It may turn out for the best if they fail anyway.

I say ‘human civilization’ because, like George Carlin, I think the planet is going to be fine. ‘Saving The Planet’ really is just a euphemism for trying to save ourselves. As Carlin pointed out, the planet has had to endure much worse than us. Google ‘Permian Extinction’ if you want the event that came closest to wiping out all life on Earth – and yet life survived to multiply and diversify to become everything we see around us today.

The climate change ‘scandal’ didn’t help things along very much. It was immediately seized upon by skeptics on the Left and Right it’s been a rallying flag for all those who think we should somehow keep the status quo. Anyone who thinks that’s it’s still OK to pump pollution into our environment, regardless of its impact on the globe, is a criminal in my book.

I wonder if there’s anyone apart from the media who believes that Obama is going to be the Saviour of us all?
You should read this, and this, and this, this, this, and maybe this.

Really, if you think that anyone, ANYONE, on the real Left likes or trusts Obama then you should just read this and learn just how he is doing everything they predicted before he was elected.

Then there’s Tony Blair’s stunning admission that even if the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was shown to be false before the invasion of Iraq, that he would have found any excuse to go in anyway. It begs the question just who was leading who between him and Bush. When will Blair be indicted to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity? Continuing the myth that ousting Saddam has improved the situation in Iraq should be submitted as evidence that Blair doesn’t have a soul or a conscience. (You know who else didn’t have a soul or conscience??)

Don’t mention the continuing tragedy in Afghanistan – oh wait, I did. And again. And don’t think it’s going to end anytime soon.
Quietly, the North Koreans are getting restless.

Australia continues its quiet evolution into a police state with the previously mentioned Great Firewall Of Australia now approved for rollout and the police continuing to get the power to make life generally unpleasant for the general populace. Add to that the cost of a home is continuing to become more and more unaffordable and rents are going to continue to rise, putting a home out of reach of a younger generation (and myself).

This has become another rant of misery and woe. But at this time of year which is often given over to self-celebration and self-indulgence, it is important to remember that we are (maybe) all part of the same soul and the things we do DO affect others. If there’s one resolution we should be making for next year is for us to do (and to keep doing) something that makes life better for other people.

There are maybe some glimmers of hope… I like to think that hope exists and is not a completely futile quality to possess.

Take these parents for example. They won the right for their children not to have to do homework. They were able to show the court that endless study at home does nothing for their kids’ performance at school. If only Japan could get the idea, but it seems that we are dooming these kids to a never-ending cycle of exhaustion. (I am fully aware of the irony of me saying this, being in the educational field and responsible for some of this)

Anyway, whatever you do, have a great Christmas and enjoy it the best you can. I know I will.

High ho, high ho. It’s weekend time again, thankfully.

The weather’s just starting to come good and the cherry trees are starting to blossom, so it won’t be long before every open space near a sakura will be populated by people sitting on blue plastic tarps, drinking and eating themselves into oblivion. It’s a great time of year. It looks like I’ll be catching up with some ex-Nova buddies next Sunday for the annual Himeji Castle pilgrimage.

It’ll be the same day as the Tatsuno Spring festival but after I went last year with my mother, I don’t think this year will live up to the good time had last time. It is interesting though, with people parading through the old town dressed up in samurai costume – even with warriors on horses. It’s a good chance to take heaps of pix, as I did last year.

There’s also the crowning of the new Miss Tatsuno which has got to be one of the lamest beauty pageants in the world. For the record, there are TWO Miss Tatsunos for some reason… safety in numbers? Maybe it’s so they can go to the bathroom together – who knows. What a year is promised to the winners though, with the chance to appear at every local community event as the eye-candy! I wonder if the girls really get many opportunities arising from the role…

I’ll be in a secret location for a few days from April 1 to 4. All I can tell you is that it will be sunny!

I’ve been going on some dates recently but it’s proving to be quite frustrating at times. I prefer women who are interesting and are good to talk to but it’s hard to break through the Japanese shyness barrier. I’m sure Japanese women are interesting and brainy – as well as sexy – as I’ve met quite a few, but when you’re going on a date with one there’s often this coyness that descends, making conversation a real minefield. Coyness can be sweet (as Morrissey sang, “Coyness is nice…”) but say the wrong thing, or be too assertive and it’s game over man.

I’ve been trying to go out with one woman but it’s been a chore just to get some free time. Also she won’t go out of the house unless she’s 100% healthy, so a couple of snuffles and she cancels. We’re up to three or four aborted dates versus one actual date so I’m thinking of just not bothering. Her English is OK and she’s a cutie but she’s shyyyyyyy….

I have also been on a couple of dates with a woman who speaks absolutely no English, so that’s been an extra challenge. Dictionaries have come in very handy! She’s a sweetheart but I honestly can’t see us being more than dinner friends. The language barrier really is so hard to traverse. It is an interesting experience to try to develop a relationship of sorts in a language completely not your own. I hope she’s enjoying the adventure as much as I am.

Many foreigners in Japan have dated and developed relationship with Japanese women and have sometimes gone on to marry them and live long and happy lives with them. I’m glad I’m friends with some of them as they give me hope! Others (like me) have been burned by the experience and have often been left wondering just what is this creature known as the Japanese female. This article may shed some light on the subject and it brings to the fore that Japanese women can fall into two distinct categories, which for the sake of argument I’ll term as outward and inward thinkers. The outward thinkers tend to have travelled or lived in other countries and have taken on a more international way of thinking. They are certainly more assertive and opinionated and probably more widely read. They are also more likely to settle on a partner who complements their personality. The inward thinkers tend to have not travelled much and if they have they’ve probably only been on tours with other Japanese people, and for short periods of time (ie. less than a week). Their expectations are fuelled by their parents, fashion magazines and (in short) society. They tend to want to marry a rich man who will give them what they want. There’s no thought given to love: marriage is the goal, the means to an end.

As the man in the article says, “You see, you have it backwards. So many Japanese women put the cart before the horse: you think that if you get married you’ll finally be happy, if only, if only you could just wear the dress and walk down the aisle, then you could truly find bliss. But guess what, marriage is not the path to happiness, it’s exactly the opposite. Happiness is the path that leads to marriage. Only when you are truly happy with someone and you love them to the core of your being can you even broach the idea of marrying that person. Tough concept, I know.”

Good words.

Japan’s rice farmers are doing it tough, and things aren’t getting much better. They can’t make much of a living and as most of them are currently over 60, before too long rice farming will become a thing of the past.

According to the Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, the Australian economy ‘can’ emerge from the current economic downturn in good shape. The newspaper has changed that into ‘will’ in the first paragraph of the story, and the headline also makes it clear that prosperity is a certainty. Memo to the editors, there’s a world of difference between ‘can’ and ‘will’!

Kevin Rudd went to Washington, met Obama and like Obama he come back with ideas that have left us wondering if we really just got an extension of the previous regime. I went on about his not-so-green environmental policies before, but now Rudd’s doing a Howard on Afghanistan. My sentiments on the invasion and occupation of the Middle East are quite clear, but you really have to wonder exactly what Obama said to Rudd to get him to be such a lapdog as this. This is going down as Obama looks to expand the war into Pakistan, more Australians are dying there and the Afghan people are proving to be more than a match for the invaders.

With Obama continuing the American Project and betraying the faith placed in him by the American people, with continued economic collapse threatening our civilization and people already living in tent cities, it’s interesting to note how people are responding. Some are going back to gardening, with a vengeance.  It’ll be very interesting if the collapse of the global network fuels a resurgeance in local community activism.

One problem with this is that the seeds people buy are only sold through a few massive agri-business corporations. This article looks at how something as seemingly important as the Doomsday Seed Vault on the Norewegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle is a front for guaranteeing a seed supply in the event of biological warfare based on the very seeds used to grow our food. If you think it’s just conspiracy, these companies have already developed vaccines that induce abortions as well as corn that renders men infertile. Genetics is scary… and don’t mention population control.

Rolling Stone has put out an article which attempts to place the economic crisis into the context of a massive takeover – of the government by a few extraordinarily rich people. It makes a convincing case. It does get a bit wordy for the financially illiterate like myself, but it’s worth persisting. The final paragraph sums things up pretty clearly though; “These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.”

The U.N. wants to re-organise the world economy around a green-energy model, which they (naturally) will oversee. I can’t see that happening at all, to be honest…

I gave the Russians and Chinese proposals for a new world currency an airing before and it looks like the Americans are seriously considering it, which stunned the world markets, forcing an immediate retraction. Horse. Barn door.

North Korea’s said it’s going to fire an experimental communications satellite into orbit so Japan’s going on full alert in case it self distructs and rains debris over the countryside. Things are a little tense. For the record, the last time the North Koreans fired this kind of rocket they did it without warning and launched it across Japan before it landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Another cog in the incredibly complex climate machine has been identified and quantified: atmospheric dust.

Not much wacky stuff here. Apologies.

Tom Ellard has posted a bunch of Severed Heads videos online though, so please enjoy.

See you under a cherry tree with a bottle of sake and some onigiri!

Yay, I’m back for who-knows-how-long… For those who aren’t in the know; I have a bad back. To be precise I have two herniated disks in my L4 and L5 lumbar. So that means from time to time they go nuts on my spinal cord and I can’t do simple things like sit or walk. I had an operation once to fix this problem when I was 24 but the problem resurfaced a few years later. I could have another operation but the time needed for recovery is rather large so it’s just not an option at the moment.

So in practice what that meant was I had to spend a week in bed, which wasn’t as exciting or romantic as it sounds. Thank goodness I have a Macbook and an almost endless stream of movies to watch, not to mention the free wireless access through some kind neighbour’s unsecured network!

The funny/sad thing about all this is now I share my bed with a Macbook. Does that means I’m now cursed to never have a girlfriend ever again? At least I don’t live in my parents’ basement…

Another upshot is that the update I had in the works is now hopelessly out of date. But it’s refreshing to note that apart from a couple of celebrity deaths and a couple of aircrashes that nothing much has really changed in the news over the past few weeks – at least in the meta-stories that I follow…

I qualify for the free 12,000 yen from the Japanese Government! I have the form and will go down to the city office soon to stake my claim. No idea how I will choose to stimulate the economy… Any suggestions?

One interesting development in the Australian internet firewall fiasco is that iiNet has pulled out of testing the new system. They have cited the reason that the list clashes with their philosophy of supporting free speech and social responsibility. The list of banned sites was leaked onto Wikileaks and showed that the government was not just targetting child porn sites (the reason for the censorship) but also regular porn sites as well as some that discuss euthanasia, hate speech, even inocuous sites like that of a Queensland dentist. A big thimbs-up to iiNet for taking a stand, and hopefully if the other testers follow suit the government will have no choice but to abandon this ridiculous program.

You could also add the Australian government’s environmental program to the list of policies that need drastic overhauling. Rudd’s done a Howard and gone to ‘clean coal’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) instead of doing what the Europeans (and even Obama) are doing and that’s developing solar and wind energy.

Cracks are appearing in the mainstream media’s one-eyed hero-worship of Obama with a 60 Minutes interview taking the new President’s seeming callous attitude to the economic crisis to task. Public protests are also starting up across the country as it becomes clear that the bailout of the banks may well be doing more harm than good.

Obama’s empty rhetoric is justifyably getting an airing, and we need to keep supporting people researching what’s really going on behind the words of this charismatic man. Take closing Guantanamo for example. 200 or so of the prisoners (since they aren’t called ‘enemy combatants’ any more) are being moved to an expanded Bagram base in Afghanistan, where their situation won’t change. Another is the escalation in Afghanistan. Obama would do well to listen to the advice of the former Soviets – and that is, basically, don’t bother.

There was also the passing of legislation that could lead to the creation of a seven-million strong civilian “army” that could be drawn upon to keep the peace if the country goes to pot, or just become a default ‘draft’. This one can’t be blamed entirely on Obama as it’s been in the pipeline for ages, but it is happening on his watch, and with his approval.

One independent commentator is asking if Obama is really “dumber than a bag of hammers”. Another has declared that the USA has two solutions; either declare bankruptcy or start a war – a big one. That could well happen in Pakistan as the state looks to be very unstable at the moment – and they have nukes.

Regardless of the economic situation, Britain’s chief scientist has released a report claiming that due to food, water, energy and environmental problems getting out of hand, by 2030 the world is going to be in a desperate state, and people will respond by taking desperate actions.

With China and Russia calling for the world to abandon the US dollar as the default reserve currency, things are going to get very interesting indeed.

Meanwhile the top story in Australia the past couple of weeks has been over whether Pauline Hanson had nude pictures taken of her. No, I didn’t look, and I don’t think you should either (urrrgh!), but it gives you an idea of why I don’t read the mainstream press that much…