Hey reader,

It’s been a historic week in Japan with the change of government and all. To be honest I never really thought I’d see it, but since the LDP has spent the past few years changing prime ministers more often than their underwear, and each one being steadily more uncharismatic and prone to foot-in-mouth disease than the previous one, I guess it was only a matter of time. That and the economy is not getting any better and simply the LDP ran out of ideas.

So there are a lot of expectations for the new mob, except that most of them are rich old men like the like lot, and also inherited their seats from relatives – like the last lot. Heck, even the new PM was a member of the LDP until the 1990s – and his grandfather was the first LDP PM. You just can’t escape a shadow like that so easily. The bureaucrats certainly don’t seem to be panicking. The important thing is going to have to be patience on the part of the public, and for the DPJ to actually make good on some of their big promises.

Newsweek had a series of three interesting articles about Japan which were written before the election, but they’re a good primer for what’s been ailing Japan politically and economically in recent years as well as what needs to happen to make Japan a prosperous nation again.

The NY Times has a a look at the hostessing culture in Japan. What’s going to be interesting to see is how the continuing economic malaise is going to affect this particular part of Japan’s economy. The clubs and hostesses (and hosts) rely on a steady stream of cashed-up clients and as the cash dries up it remains to be seen how these young people are going to make their money. In a worst case scenario, Japan could end up like Thailand, but things would have to get much worse for it to happen to that extent. Currently Japan’s GDP is about 18 times that of Thailand’s.

Adbusters looks at Japan’s malaise in psychological, rather than economic, politcal or cultural terms.

And this driver represented Japan’s malaise on a highway by driving 47km in the wrong direction.

This article brings a lot of Japan’s quieter and more sinister aspects out for an airing.

The Return of Charisma Man!? One can hope! (Probably the best comic ever about foreign life in Japan)

Oh yeah, and my corrupt, company-destroying former boss is in prison. Yay!

Scientists are predicting that this year will be the coldest year of the decade. It has been friggin’ cold up here in the Northern Hemisphere for my southern-dwelling friend. Got news for youno sunspots. Not a one. Remember the last time that happened? Well, not unless you’re 400 or something, but it got cold – for years. Buy stocks in a fleece company.

A woman has spent a year doing everything Oprah says to do  in the name of ‘art’, and by ‘art’ we mean getting her face in the media and getting a book deal. At the end of the year she’s become an Oprah Drone without realising it. You know who wins in the name of Oprah vs. ironic post-feminist art? Oprah, baby, that’s who.

Here’s an interview of Ed Benedict done by John Kricfalusi. Who’s Ed Benedict? The guy who invented The Flintstones (as well as Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound….). Who’s John Kricfalusi? The guy who invented Ren and Stimpy. Read on.

Someone at Burger King needs to read up on Orientalism and Colonialism. Bleah. Someone needs to do a Festival Of The Chicken on these guys. (I’m not making that up!)

That economic rescue package thingy has grown to $8.5 trillion. That’s eight and a half trillion dollars, or a crap-load of money. So what happens when you extrapolate the eventual cost of something else the Bush administration is responsible for, such as the Iraq War, onto the bailout? $595 TRILLION. One piece of good news is that it now costs peanuts to hire a cargo ship…. errrmmm…

Don’t worry, the CEOs got paid

Greenland’s not the only place where storm clouds are gathering. Try Italy, where education cutbacks are threatening the future of society. Try Europe as a whole, where immigration policy threatens to destabilize the region. Try Thailand where violent protests are just a moment away – still. Try Pakistan, where violence and chaos are growing day by day. It threatens the whole region. Try my sunny homeland, Australia, where the government is really going to bring in Internet filtering. Thankfully people aren’t going to take it lying down.

So, a year on from the Nova collapse. Wow, a lot has happened!

In Tokyo, tourists have been barred from the famous Tsujiki fish markets for a month. They can’t keep their greasy mits off the merchandise, or their camera flashes off apparently.

I remember back in the late 80s when mildly rascist commentators went berzerk over how the Japanese were going to buy everything – and it didn’t happen. Now it’s the turn of the Chinese.

I don’t agree with the Catholic church about most things, but I can agree with them about this; Disney is evil and should be wiped from the Earth.

Steve McQueen has been dead for nearly thirty years and is still cooler than anyone – except perhaps Stephen Colbert.