Another week rolls by and the injustices of the world continue to require our attention and vigilence.

An interesting look inside the Indian call centre industry. Yes, you may be annoyed with having to talk to an Indian on the phone, but also spare a thought for what they are going through as well. Direct your energy towards the companies and policies that cause jobs to go offshore, not the fact that this is a rare shot for thousands of poor people to make a ‘decent’ wage. Buy an answering machine to screen calls if you have to.

In Australia, the furor over the introduction of the carbon tax has overshadowed the reality for a lot of people that they are currently living through a recession, despite all the ‘official figures’ saying otherwise. There’s also the issue of the government shooting Australian internet users in the foot over wireless internet. A “prohibition on Telstra “promoting wireless services as a substitute for fibre-based services for 20 years” “!?!? 20 years ago – in 1991 – NO ONE had internet access in Australia. Not a single person. My university got internet in 1994. In twenty years the rest of the world will be downloading entire full-sensory movies into their minds to be experienced in all five senses, and the internet users of Australia will be clinging on to their legacy DVDs and Blu-Rays. Ridiculous.

This was an interesting piece looking at the underlying racism behind unemployment figures in the USA. One highlight of the piece was an experiment done where four types of job applicants applied for work and the reponse rate was measured. The worker types tested were all male, of similar age and educational background. The only differences were if the applicant was white or black, and if they were a felon or not. The white applicant without a criminal record achieved a 34% rate of callback and the white felon received a 17% rate of callback. What made the experiment devastatingly eye-opening were the callback rates for the black applicants: 14% and 5%. The white felon was preferred over the college-educated black man with a clean criminal record. The experiment’s results have been reproduced, so it seems apparent that racism, and a glaring disparity between blacks and whites, is still alive and well in the USA.

Despite what the American politicians say, the next election is all going to be about jobs. No one is talking about that giant elephant in the corner and while ‘austerity’ is the word in the air, you can bet your bottom dollar that the situation will not improve, which may well affect us all. You can certainly bet on cutting services to most Americans, whereas if just the top 25 hedge fund managers were forced to pay taxes like most ordinary Americans, they could cut the deficit by US$44 billion over the next ten years. That’s a lot of money to help fund actual policies that help actual people. Will it happen? Don’t bet on it.

The global situation over food, water, climate and energy continues to unravel. The wars of the 21st Century will continue to be about control of the world’s resources – that’s if the fundies don’t kill us all first.

Maybe North Korea is getting close to implosion since it can’t even feed its army any more.

This was a moment of journalistic beatup and hysteria-mongering that almost defied description. Victoria experinced a small earthquake that rattled some windows in Melbourne, so the next day The Age ran a story about how Victoria’s volcanoes were ‘overdue’ for eruption. The writer ignored most of the science on the issue (such as the hot spot under Mt. Gambier being well and truly dead) and focused on the law of averages as referred to by one single piece of research. It was scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of a story. Good fun to read though. 

Almost as entertaining, but not quite as harmless, the same newspaper (amongst others) ran a piece on how the next terror threat involved surgically implanted bombs. The Department of Homeland Security think the terrorists are getting their ideas from Batman movies and are going to set off bombs on planes by remotely detonating explosives hidden inside suicide bombers. I’m sure the terrorists are saying ‘thanks’ for the idea and we should all look forward to CT scan machines making an appearance at boarding gates before too long.

Oh, and I’ve said this for years, but now Cracked has picked up on the idea that major events in the War on Terror™ mirror Starship Troopers in no small way.

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Time to go through some things lurking in open tabs that I found interesting / cool / funny / neat, etc. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which was which.

I visited Uno earlier this year to visit Naoshima with my mum and her friend. We stayed at an excellent guesthouse called Uno Slope House. The proprieter is a Japanese fellow named Max, who has opened up his parents’ house for visitors, as well as trying to open up the area around Uno to more tourism. The Uno/ Naoshima area is trying to reinvent itself as an destination for artists. The museums and installations on Naoshima are certainly well worth a visit. As for Max, he’s a filmmaker, and is also one of the main organisers of a film festival that takes place in August every year in Uno. This year’s is going to be held over the first two weekends, so if you’re keen, try to head down there and enjoy some real Japanese hospitality along with the art. They’re also trying to raise funds to run the event, so if you’re feeling generous, there are some goodies in it for you as well. I might see you there!

This photo tour of an abandoned amusement park in the USA caught my eye. I could add it to the list of ghost towns I want to see. If I had the time and money, I would love to get more into astrophotography. I spent a short while up the top of Norway last Christmas and saw the aurora, which was phenomenal, but these pictures from Australia were also amazing. This photoset captures in great detail the stark reality of North Korea – a sterile showcase of perfection that somehow has stripped almost all vestige of humanity away from its citizenry. I’ve never seen such emptiness. (I still want to go there by the way…)

If you can force your way through it, you should try to read Umberto Eco’s Travels In Hyperreality. In particular the section on post-modernism and The Last Supper. It’s true, there are bizarre versions of it everywhere! The internet is also a great place to see the collective creative genius at work.

I’m glad to say that I’ve seen quite a few of these great films that have no plot.

I’m getting more and more into whisky, particularly 10 year-old single malts, but also the Irish varieties have caught my eye – as well as tastebuds. I have also recently been spending some time with some very naughty beers from Belgium and Germany. These are the sorts of beers that I wouldn’t mind taking on a dirty weekend somewhere….

I’ve tried a couple of these coffee hacks, such as buying a French press and adding a pinch of salt to the brew. Yummo.

I wouldn’t mind opening a tea house though.

Love Hotels are not just for Japan any more. Auckland says hello to its first.

I have enjoyed Sean Bean’s work for quite a while. He has the ability to play the kind of character who can be a badass but also be frail at the same time. Think of his roles in Lord of the Rings and Ronin. Last week they played Patriot Games on satellite TV and his character was just a one-way ticket to Hell and he didn’t care who he took along for the ride. Awesome. Now you’d think such a man might be a bit of a douche/chav in real life, but not if you’re a lady. He went out for a few drinks with an Italian Playboy model one night (as you do) and some punter started to insult her honour. He took the fella aside to have a quiet word. Later, when Sean went outside to have a cigarette, he got stabbed in the arm with some broken glass for his trouble. Did Sean Bean go to the hospital? NO. He walked back inside and ordered another drink. All hail!

You think your TVs big? Try this one on for size! You could try to get it in see-though format as well. That window/TV is not too far away.

The Swedes are funny. Really.

There has often been a lament about the lack of women in science and engineering. Some women have made an enormous difference to our understanding of our world and the universe. Dads, if you have daughters, I’d recommend you buy a microscope to go along with those toys. A great example in point is of Amelia Fraser-McKelvie. She was on a six-week internship at Monash University when she solved part of the riddle of the missing mass of the universe.

The story behind one of the greatest images of the Civil Rights movement.

Another perspective on the recent goings on between the USA, South Korea and North Korea, with a good summary of the past fifteen years or so in diplomacy between these countries.

Japan’s looking at introducing an environment tax, because generating revenue will save the world. Yeah, that’ll sell… One of Japan’s most respected business leaders has put an ‘X’ on the spot of the problem with this once great country – weak leadership.

Australian households have reduced their water usage by 16% over the past five years, but are paying up to 95% more for it.

Leslie Nielsen passed away recently. Flying High (Airplane) is very likely in my all-time top ten. It certainly is one of the most quotable movies of all time.

Cancer isn’t slowing Christopher Hitchens down.

The newest touchscreens are looking even cooler than the ‘old’ ones.

The guy who invented Netscape is back with a new internet browser. I think I might give it a try…

Boeing are able to mass-produce solar cells with an efficiency of 39.2% (That’s VERY good, by the way)

New broadband technologies are looking interesting.

New drone and surveillance technologies are not.

Not to worry, since the planet is doomed anyway.

Louisiana gives a middle finger to meddling Creationists.

How books are made.

How students pass university by never writing papers or essays.

A good idea for creating good future citizens.

McDonalds and PespiCo are helping to write UK health policy. Giving arsonists the keys to the fire brigade? Smart move!

Silvio Berlusconi’s defense against having an affair with an underage pole dancer? “At least I’m not gay. Oh, and the Mafia is out to get me.” Yeah, that’ll work.

Enjoy that chocolate (fatty) since cocoa may become a rare extravagance within the next few years.

Not to worry, since maid trains are now available in Japan, and the bras are very welcoming to visitors too. There are still some good reasons to live here though, although anime is on the decline.

Giant sushi is making appearances at an airport carousel near you… well… near me, actually.

That Siberian methane is bubbling away, and looking to create a desert. The coal miners are looking to do the same thing, in their own way.

Australian cities are threatening to destroy themselves, by spreading themselves too thin.

Beer helped make civilization.

The oldest ground-edge stone tool in the world has been found in Arnhem Land, at the north end of Australia.

The greatest mural ever. I want one.

And my upcoming trip to Scandinavia promises to be cold – as in I’ll likely be getting that White Christmas experience I’ve always wanted.

I’ve been listening to Gil Scott Heron again recently. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ still rings as true today as when it was released, even though the pop culture references won’t make much sense to anyone born after 1980 or read any history…

Reading history does help give one a sense of perspective. I remember buying a copy of The Penguin History of the World as a high school student, simply because I though it was ridiculous that a small, brick-shaped book simply couldn’t hold the required information to adequately describe the entire history of the world thus far. So it sat on my shelf, gathering dust for a few years, until one day I thought, “You know, I should actually read this and see what it has to say”. And read it I did, from cover to cover, from the first emergence of humanoid like creatures in our pre-historic past to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, where the writers of the book chose to conclude their essay.

I learned a few interesting things from ploughing through chapter after chapter. To a late-teenager who had never read history they were revelations, which strike my late-thirties self as self evident truths. Nonetheless I keep coming back to them. The first was that history moves in cycles; boom and bust, rise and fall, come and go, nothing is forever, like Ozymandias in that poem by Shelley. The second is that power will always be sought and held onto by the rich and powerful. There will always be the rich and powerful who lord over the poor and weak. The third one is that no person is greater than history. People can try to create their own legacy, but once history has got a hold of you, then you are just along for the ride.

It’s nearly the 47th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, so the Hostory Channel here in Japan are running a series of documentaries about the events of that day in history. Tonight’s doco looked at the transfer of power that had to occur after the president was killed. History has taken a fairly dim view of Lyndon Johnson and the way he seemed to pressure the Kennedys into taking over the reins of power. However the documentary showed (as documentaries often can, thanks to the power of the medium – my reservations are being aired) that it was the Kennedy cap in their grief and devastated state (not to mention the alcohol consumed on the plane back from Dallas to Washington) as well as having bought into the cult of personality that JFK had brought to the presidency, that perhaps played a bigger stake in what came to define Johnson’s presidency, as well as history’s view of him.

History is written by the winners, and the tendency to mythologise is not confined to the ancients.

I chose LBJ quite deliberately to open this post, because the way that he dealt with his own feelings and shock and grief on the day simply had to take a back seat to the continuation of power, to maintian stable and effective leadership in a time when the world had recently teetered on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. LBJ was a thoughtful, concerned and sensitive man. He was also a liberal in the true sense of the word and also a Texan. He stands in proud defieance of the stereotype that has come to be dominated by his more recent Texan political archetypes, the Bush family, in particular, one George W. Bush.

George is in the process of defining his legacy. He is attempting to do this by releasing a biography. I say ‘biography’ since there is doubt that he actually wrote it himself. He has joked about this, but as we know, dear reader, humour often masks a more uncomfortable truth. The timing is also important, coming at a time when his successor is staring down the barrel of becoming a lame duck and Bush’s Republican cronies are circling the mortally wounded carcass of another Democratic presidency, waiting for it to fall for the last time.

The critics are rightly taking a hatchet to the more spurious elements of the book. The revelations within it reveal the arrogance of the man, as well as his callousness and disregard for humanity that we saw glimpses of before and during his presidency. The former president has admitted, through the account in his biography, to authorising the use of waterboarding on an American citizen – that is, ordered one of his own countrymen to be tortured. He has also lied about being “shocked”, “angry” and having a “sickening feeling every time I thought about it” over the fact that weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq. You won’t find it in his biography, but during a media dinner in 2004 (well recounted here), Bush made light of the search for weapons in Iraq, playing it for laughs. As it has been noted before, Bush displays some classic psychopathic tendencies, including not being able to realise that he lies to himself, as well as everyone around him. The recent Wikileaks release of thousands of diplomatic cables go a long way to refute the claims and narratives claimed in Bush’s biography. That Bush is seeking to invent his own legacy is par for the course. I wonder if he will take his book tour abroad?

The increasing tension between the two Koreas, the USA and China is continuing. Japan is sitting awfully close to the sidelines and hoping the taunting doesn’t boil over into full-on conflict. The situation is threatening to unwind US / China relations. It’s also highlighting the bias against North Korea, given that everyone assumed the North fired first, when reports are now stating the South has admitted using its artillery in a war games exercise before the North responded, thinking it was under attack. It is well known that the North barely has the resources to feed its own army, let alone its people, which have been largely abandoned by the state. If the war fires up again, the North has a vast amount of weaponry it can call upon, and could wreak havoc on the South, as well as cause econimc chaos throughout the region, but in the end it would be a suicidal move, one China and the South – and Japan – would not want to have to deal with.

The global economic woes continue to be reported daily. The European theatre is seeing Ireland, Spain, Portugal added to Greece as hotspots for a torrent of activity to shore up the euro and keep the economies there alive and ticking. There are alternatives, but since they would involve actually helping people and not protecting the rich and powerful, they won’t be done.

In the USA, the situation is not getting any better. The housing situation continues to worsen under corrupt and illegal exploitation of the system. Hunger and poverty are becoming commonplace. Despite calls by some of the mega-rich to end Bush’s tax cuts, the degree of inequality of income between the rich and the poor continues its relentless march. Any serious steps to revitalise the economy, such as engaging in a massive public works and infrastructure project, or set reasonable levels of taxation to fund welfare, are not happening, lest the cry of “Socialism!” from the right-wing lunatic faction becomes too loud. (How giving unlimited funds to the rich and powerful became socialist is a masterpiece of linguistic trickery)

The US has passed the record for the amount of time spent in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, with no effective timeline on the horizon for ever leaving – unless it loses. (Australia’s Prime Minister, Gillian Gillard, told Karzai to halt corruption. The peals of laughter must have chased her out of the room.)

Human Rights abuses continue to undermine everything Obama ever promised to do, such as close Guantanamo for a start. The Obama administration recently granted waivers from the Child Soldiers Preventaion Act to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Yemen – effectively legalising the use of child soldiers to fight ‘terrorism. 

The surveillance state continues to unfold, with law enforcement looking to use 1984-esque technologies, along with taking iris scans to create a database of potential enemies of the state. The US continues to appease Israel, while Israel continues to exploit the situation in America to its own advantage.

The Sarah Palin juggernaut continues unchecked. At least if she becomes president, the end will come swiftly and perhaps the pain will not be so long-lived.

In other countries, the response to this continued screwing of the middle and working classes is open hostility. In American it seems to be a collective ho-hum. It’s a very dangerous ho-hum, as it’s providing a space for the extreme right to make inroads, as we have seen in the recent elections. As the universities become enslaved to money, at the expense of being sanctuaries of knowledge, the intellectual response to this situation has become a meek acceptance to the status quo. There will be no sixties uprising led by the professors (such as the great Howard Zinn) as they’ll all be afraid of losing their jobs.

Quietly, why is the FBI supplying bombs to Muslim teenagers and grooming them to become terrorists, just so they can arrest them and say they’re keeping America safe? The timing – just before the busiest travelling time of the year – is also impeccible.

Opt Out Day was a fizzer, mainly due to the fact that most Americans are quite happy to buy into the myth that these invasive searches are making them safer somehow. Many security experts agree that the patdowns cannot and will not work. There are viable alternatives. Anything has to be better than pulling someone off a flight because of his tattoos. Boycott non-essential travel in and around the USA until they give up.

Seriously, read The Shock Doctrine.

…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!

And so it begins, the post-Bush era, as well as the Obama Years. Let’s see what they shall bring, eh?

As the door hits Bush’s backside on the way out it looks like some judges are finally growing a pair, while other continue to erode the constitution.

There’s no shortage of advice for the new President. So many writers and opinion-givers are lining up to share something they hope Obama might actually read. (I wonder if they ever read the newspapers or internet, or just rely on their advisors… Bush was famous for not reading anything without pictures in it.)

Most of the advice I’ve been reading has revolved around what to do about the economic crisis. It’s natural since it’s going to be the dominant world news topic for some time. The decisions made over the next few months may well shape the outcome of the next few years. Some are not feeling very hopeful at all. (83 out of the top 100 corporations in the USA have subsiuaries in offshore tax havens – and some of them are receiving taxpayer funded bailouts. Ssssssh!) Obama’s rhetoric is very inclusive, but you have to wonder how grounded it is in reality. When Obama says that ‘everyone’ is going to have to make sacrifices, one wonders how much the poor of America have left to give… perhaps they will just disappear; or is that the plan? Obama lays claim to the legacy of MLK, but how much would have King approved of Obama’s message and actions? The salaries of the majority of Americans has decreased over the past 40 years. The people who put him in power now need to hold him accountable.

One interesting outcome of the financial crisis has been that the US armed forces’ recruitment quotas are now being exceeded. People are seeing the Army as a safe haven as far as securing an income is concerned. One wonders though exactly what they’re being set up for

Amnesty International is pushing for a war crimes tribunal into what has happened in Gaza over the past month. Of the 1194 Gazans who died in the invasion, 1099 were civilians. 6000 were injured. Many of the victims were children.  Don’t look to the U.N. for any support though… And as for that ceasefire – forget it.

Britain is walking a tightrope. It still doesn’t look good in Ireland or Iceland either. Australia’s situation is not looking good either. Eastern Europe and the Baltic States are seeing more civil strife as their economies worsen. Japan’s economic stimulus package is deeply unpopular, but that isn’t stopping the PM’s crusade to see it through – even as his own MPs are deserting him. In the rest of Asia the crisis may have an interesting spinoff, leading to greater independence for the Asian economies. The banks that are bankrupting America are now targetting the funds in Medicare and Social Security.

The situation on the Korean peninsula is still threatening to spill over into total war.

I promise I’ll post something positive/nice/weird/entertaining soon…