• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    Don’t fall on me

    Posted by Sean at 11:04, March 3rd, 2005

    It’s snowing in the Tokyo area, so we are all much in distrait. The news team is interviewing people in the requisite posture of windmilling the arms and screaming, “AIEEEEEE! What is this white stuff? And why is there a whole centimeter of it?!” It’s like the manna story in the Exodus. Well, except for the fact that not even G-d himself could convince me to ingest anything that falls out of the sky in Tokyo. (And since it’s Friday, we’d have to hold it over in the freezer for tomorrow’s ration. I’m sure particulate matter is even yummier when it’s allowed to ripen for a day.)

    Anyway, it’s accumulating, sort of. The ground wasn’t frozen most places in the city–that heat-island effect you get in population centers that are hopelessly lost to capitalism and commerce. I haven’t seen anything to say that there are major train lines closed, which tends to be the biggest potential pain; and in any case, we always settle into a general well-at-least-it-wasn’t-an-earthquake feeling before long. Atsushi’s flying in for the weekend tomorrow, though, so I hope flights aren’t disrupted. The snow’s supposed to fall all weekend.

    Bali bombing planner sentenced

    Posted by Sean at 22:06, March 2nd, 2005

    The chief known conspirator in the Bali bombing has gotten a sentence of 30 months in prison:

    Australia and the U.S. have expressed disappointment at the 30-month jail sentence handed to Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir for his part in the Bali bombing.

    An Indonesian court found Ba’asyir guilty on Thursday of an “evil conspiracy” to commit the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

    He was acquitted on the more serious charges of direct involvement in the Bali attack and in the bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 people in August 5, 2003.

    Australia and the United States consider Ba’asyir to be the spiritual head of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, which is blamed for the Bali bombings, the Marriott bombing and last year’s blast at the Australian Embassy.

    Intelligence officials say the group has cells across Southeast Asia.

    That comes to 4.5-ish days for each victim who died. Now, I guess, it goes to appeal.

    Gyet the heck ahht!

    Posted by Sean at 21:32, March 2nd, 2005

    A gay crime of passion in my native Lehigh Valley! Gay guys in Bath? We really are everywhere. How exciting:

    A 37 year old Pennsylvania man has been charged with setting fire to his ex-lover’s home in an attempt to kill him.

    Police in Bath, northeast of Allentown, say that Donald K. Albright went to the home of Wayne Keeler in the early hours of Sunday morning, chained the doors, sealed the windows and then doused the exterior with gasoline before lighting it.

    Keeler managed to get out of the burning structure and was unharmed.

    The house was badly burned on the outside and a car belonging to Keeler was destroyed.

    After the relationship ended, Albright left numerous text and voicemail messages for Keeler which police describe as sounding suicidal and angry.

    Albright also had been discussing the breakup in the chat room where he and Keeler met according to investigators. In one chat message recovered by police Albright said that Keeler loved his Volkswagen more than he loved him.

    That last part is poignant, but if I were the jiltee, I’d take it as a signal that I need to spend a full weekend getting blotto and listening to the Go-go’s immortal “Skidmarks on My Heart” on Repeat 1. In fact, I’d do the whole album. Then look for a new boyfriend. Maybe I’m just too tightly wound.

    Added at 21:39: Our local paper has the story in slightly more detail. In all seriousness, I hope the poor guy wasn’t closeted, because he obviously isn’t anymore.

    We’re all gonna die! VII

    Posted by Sean at 21:36, February 28th, 2005


    A Japan Airlines (JAL) jetliner barely avoided a collision with a plane that had just landed at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido in January after it began to race along the runway for takeoff without clearance, government regulators said Tuesday.

    It was not until last Friday that JAL reported the incident, which occurred on Jan. 22, to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry in accordance with the Civil Aviation Law.

    The JAL jet’s captain has told company officials that he failed to confirm that his plane was cleared for takeoff. “I was preoccupied with preparations for takeoff and failed to confirm whether my plane was cleared. I thought no other aircraft was ahead of us.”

    At around 9:16 p.m., the captain of JAL Flight 1036 bound for Tokyo’s Haneda Airport was ordered by an air traffic controller to wait at the south edge of the 3,000-meter-long Runway A, according to ministry and JAL officials. Nevertheless, the pilot of the Boeing 777 with 201 passengers aboard increased the engine’s thrust and began to race along the runway for takeoff.

    The controller who noticed that the jet was about to take off immediately ordered it to halt saying, “Stop! You’re not cleared for takeoff yet!”

    Details, details. JAL hasn’t had a fatal incident in 20 years–in fact, I believe it’ll be exactly 20 years this August. It was the single-plane incident with the highest number of fatalities in history, I think. At least, it used to be, and I don’t think any have exceeded it since then. Japan’s air safety record since then (and, for that matter, then) has been the envy of the world, and justifiably so. But there’s a crew-error incident like this every few months nowadays; a few years ago, it was control-tower error. Luckily, there’s always been only one person in la-la land, with everyone else on top of things and ready to make up for him.


    Posted by Sean at 23:14, February 25th, 2005

    It’s inconceivable that anyone reads this site and doesn’t read Virginia Postrel, yeah? Well, just in case, she has a beautifully done, economical little photo essay on George Hurrell at Slate. You have to see it. The picture of Pancho Barnes was interesting to me because I first encountered her name in Chuck Yeager’s autobiography as a boy. I must have read that book a hundred times. By the time Yeager knew her, Barnes had hardened into an acridly foul-mouthed survivor, but Hurrell captures her much earlier. Actually, she may already have been an acridly foul-mouthed survivor by the time of this photograph, but that’s not the side of her that comes through.

    BTW, another photo essay posted the same day as Virginia’s is worth reading also. It’s about Oscar-gown blandout, and it (the phenomenon, not Julia Turner’s well-written photo essay text) may help to explain the climate that’s led to such weirdnesses as the dropping of jaws over Condoleezza Rice’s get-up the other day. Don’t get me wrong–I loved it. An athletic woman with good carriage, great legs, wintry coloring without a pair of tall black boots? Inconceivable. Where’s she been hiding ’em until now? is what I’d like to know. I know that Laura Bush has been trying to recenter the role of First Lady visually (though word is, she’s planning to relax a bit in her husband’s second term), and if starlets in their notice-me! phase aren’t dressing daringly, you can’t expect much from high-ranking women politicians. Still, it’s sad that everyone’s so bowled over at the slightest eccentric gesture.

    Rocket launch not aborted

    Posted by Sean at 20:00, February 25th, 2005

    Japan’s H2A Rocket has been launched successfully. Good news. Japan’s last several high-profile rocket launches have frequently ended in malfunctions and shoot-downs, so there was a lot of pressure for today to be, as the Nikkei blandly puts it, the first step in restoring confidence in Japanese aerospace development. That communications anomalies were discovered and delayed the launch by an hour and a half didn’t help matters, but everything’s fine, including the putting into orbit of the MTSAT (multifunctional transport satellite, or 運輸多目的衛星 if you prefer the Japanese mouthful) it was carrying, which will be used for air traffic control and meteorological observation.

    Of course, this is a civil, not military, satellite. Whether its success bodes well for needed improvements in Japan’s ability to gather strategic information by satellite is not clear. More military satellites are supposed to go up in the next year or so, so we’ll see.

    UN follies

    Posted by Sean at 13:40, February 25th, 2005

    Dean links to this post by political scientist R.J. Rummel. It’s the first in a series, which–given that the topic is problems with the UN–promises to be lengthy. What he’s arguing here is that the UN is no longer an agent for global justice, and this passage in particular caught my eye:

    Out of the vast array of facts that make this case, I will select a few. But first, as one who made considerable use of UN reports, studies, and statistical services, such as the Demographic Yearbook and Statistical Yearbook, for my research, the story of the United Nations is not entirely negative. Indeed, some will make the argument that on balance the UN has contributed to the welfare of countries. But, then, one would have to downplay or ignore the political functions of the UN.

    It’s that last item that interests me. The “has contributed” part could simply indicate that if we take the UN’s entire post-war history, the net influence of its non-political organs has been for the good. I can see arguing that, if you qualified it. But Rummel’s main point is not about the UN’s cumulative history but about where it is now, and if you downplay its political functions, that leaves…. Hmm. I’d be very interested to see it argued that the UN has not roamed off-course in its economic and humanitarian roles, too.

    There’s the World Health Organization, with its shift in focus from life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria toward the sorts of voluntary behaviors that have become favorites of first-world busybodies: auto safety and smoking, for example. UNICEF’s goals haven’t diffused so alarmingly, but you have to wonder why WHO isn’t attending to several of them already.

    Look, even cursorily, for criticisms of the efficacy of World Bank lending policies, and prepare to drown. The tone of this Guardian piece is as snidely anti-capitalist as you’d expect, but the essential charges don’t need to be. Giving countries money for vainglorious public works projects they may not be able to maintain, requiring privatization of a major industry in a country where only a tiny group of cronies have the means to own anything, and expecting to end corruption without changing the circumstances that make it attractive–you needn’t be a socialist to see the folly there. (Note also that the World Bank has taken to joining forces with WHO on its global-nanny territory, issuing a finger-wagging report about the pitfalls of alcohol abuse.)

    Anyway, Rummel’s posts look to be interesting, given that he acknowledges he spent decades as a true believer. If he continues to tackle political functions specifically–and why not? he is a political scientist–I’ll be eager to read what he thinks about the latest push to change the terms of membership on the Security Council.


    Posted by Sean at 12:04, February 25th, 2005

    Congratulations to Susanna Cornett, whose Cut on the Bias was three years old yesterday (her time). I don’t know that I’ve been reading Susanna since her first Instapundit link, which is when most of us who don’t know her from real life were first likely to have heard of her, but I definitely remember that page. Good for her. She’s been occupied with other things lately, but her intermittent posts are still good. She’s gone out of her way to be kind to me since our first few contacts, and, of course, I’ve learned a tremendous amount reading her. Best wishes.

    Shocked by the power

    Posted by Sean at 03:25, February 24th, 2005

    One of these days, I’m going to come up with a rule. Well, I’ve already sort of come up with it, I just haven’t gotten it into perfected, catchy form yet. The basic idea is:

    job as vaguely-defined counselor/consultant/therapist + list of multiple degrees prominently showcased after one’s name = RUN AWAY!

    For the latest proof, look at 365Gay’s Ask Angelo. (I don’t know whether his columns are archived; I’m pretty sure this one just appeared today.)

    Yes, before you say it, I’m in a pissy frame of mind and huffing and puffing over something trivial. My boyfriend has been making me feel his faraway wonderfulness all the more piercingly this week by going out of his way to e-mail me get-well messages over lunch, even though he has to make some excuse to absent himself from his colleagues and knows that he’ll be talking to me between 11 and midnight as always, anyway. I’m ill and feeling crappy. The tribulations of guys who can’t keep it in their pants even with their boyfriends in the same city are not high on my list of things to sympathize with at the moment.

    More on that later. First, here’s letter 1:

    Dear Angelo,

    After three years of a most fulfilling relationship with my bf, I was unceremoniously dumped. How do you accept someone you love telling you that they’re out of love with you?

    Signed, Shocked 

    Dear Shocked,

    I do not know if you’ll ever really accept that he is not in love with you anymore per se. I mean you may not believe it or be OK with it for a long while. It was not something you expected, chose or wanted. Loving someone romantically involves our deepest experience of oneness. When we are in love we are as close as we can be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to anyone. Surprising insensitive rejection from a love is a terribly painful feeling. A gut wrenching unbearable pain. If we are lonely, emotionally wounded or need more love in our life, this pain can be excruciating.

    You may ask, “how can this be?” You may think: I feel the love between us. I still see the look in his eyes. [You may say to yourself: this is not my beautiful stapler! *Ahem* Sorry.–SRK] Maybe he’s afraid. Maybe he’s in a funk. Maybe he’s on drugs. Maybe he’s gone crazy. And the list goes on.

    Yeah, I bet it does. I wonder whether the list includes, “Maybe I’ve spent the last three years being a selfish little bitch. Maybe he’s been sending me big, flashing warning signs that things were going awry. Maybe I ignored them because I was getting what I wanted. Maybe he finally decided the only thing that would get it through my thick skull was to ditch my ass.”

    I mean, sorry. Of all the long-term relationships I’ve seen go sour (including my own pre-Atsushi versions), invariably, when the dumpee has said, “This is so sudden!” his entire complement of friends and acquaintances has risen with one voice to say, “WHAT?! How could you NOT SEE THAT COMING?” Are there people who genuinely and innocently get stuck with jerks who don’t reveal themselves as such until late in the game? Probably. I’m afraid probability isn’t on the side of that one, though.

    Grieving is an active process that you have to move towards. Blocking it makes it worse. It is by allowing yourself to be sad, to scream, to cry, to “fall apart” that you heal. Lean into the pain and let it all out. Inviting in this kind of deep agonizing pain will take some effort on your part. Feeling your feelings is the key to getting better. The only way out is through. This intense pain will not last forever even though it seems like it will. The pain will lessen. Get support including counseling….

    Yeah, there’s nothing in life more difficult than convincing a fag who’s just been dumped to get self-indulgently mopey about it. Like killing the freaking Hydra, is what it is.

    My degree isn’t in psychology, but I venture to say that the problem most guys I’ve seen have isn’t that they’re incapable of owning their grief. It’s that they can’t put a lid on it and fake being even-keeled until their heart catches up with their façade, not even after a decent amount of down time.

    And nowhere in Angelo’s reply do I see anything at all about the possible need for self-criticism on the part of the letter-writer–either to figure out what he himself might have done to contribute to the undoing of the relationship or to learn what to look for so he doesn’t get taken again.

    Letter 2 is even, uh, better:

    Dear Angelo, 

    I am happily partnered in a monogamous relationship for 4

    How collective is “collective”?

    Posted by Sean at 18:56, February 23rd, 2005

    The Diet’s Committee on the Constitution (or however it’s being anglicized) has released the draft of its proposals, which are due in finalized form in April. The summary at the Yomiuri pulls things together pretty well.

    The hottest topic at the meeting was whether the amended Constitution should clearly state the right to exercise collective self-defense.

    An advocate of the change said, “It would be bad if the government’s interpretation of the stipulation could be easily altered after a change in administration. An ambiguous constitution is problematic.”

    But an opponent said, “It’s a matter of course that the nation can exercise the right to collective self-defense. There’s no need to put it in the Constitution.”

    Of course this is the…culmination is probably the wrong word, since this could keep going indefinitely…latest stage in a protracted series of negotiations. The Shin-Komeito is the LDP’s partner in its ruling coalition; one of the issues on which their alliance is shaky is the use of the SDF. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the chief opposition party, opposes changing the constitution. I’m not sure whether its was a DPJ member or someone else who made the statement quoted as “It’s a matter of course that the nation can exercise the right to collective self-defense,” but it’s hard to figure what that could mean. If conservative interpretations of the constitution didn’t regard Article 9 as prohibiting Japan from entering international conflicts, this debate wouldn’t be going in the first place.

    Here’s what Article 9 says:

    1. 日本国民は、正義と秩序を基調とする国際平和を誠実に希求し、国権の発動たる戦争と、武力による威嚇又は武力の行使は、国際紛争を解決する手段としては、永久にこれを放棄する。

    2. 前項の目的を達するため、陸海空軍その他の戦力は、これを保持しない。国の交戦権は、これを認めない。

    1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

    2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceeding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

    Added after looking at Reuters: You know what I don’t get? Look for the latest Japan-related headlines on Reuters. I can see why Livedoor’s attempted takeover of Fuji Television is a big, big story. I haven’t written about it because, well, I usually don’t report on business stuff; the case does say interesting things about the state of Japanese media, but nothing that’s moved me to go off on it. The nice thing about having a vanity site (verging on Apollonia in my case) is that you get to write about whatever you please.

    Reuters is not a vanity site (stop sniggering, you boys in the back!), and you’d think that it would see fit to give some attention to a proposed change in the Japanese constitution. I don’t think it’s especially newsworthy because I live here, you understand. Japan has the first ever constitution to renounce war explicitly. It’s America’s chief ally in a volatile region. We’re not talking about a potentially insignificant shift here.