Japanese Politicians Take Over Friday Linkage

Ichiro Ozawa, possible Prime Minister of Japan, thinks Americans are “simple-minded”. His words reminded me of a description of Americans given by a fictitious Japanese Prime Minister,

They have the most violent culture in the world, yet they worship justice. They venerate making money, but their roots are found in ideals.

While we’re talking about Japanese politicos (real or imagined), Kazutaka Sangen, mayor of Taiji, has spoken out against certain people whose sole desire is to see Japanese whale hunts (like Taiji’s dolphin hunts) end.  His words seem to eliminate any room for discussion,

We will pass down the history of our ancestors to the next generation, preserve it. We have a strong sense of pride about this. So we are not going to change our plans for the town based on the criticism of foreigners.

Game. Set. Match. Way to stick up for multiculturalism Mayor Kazutaka.  Though “foreigners” doesn’t quite do justice to the word which you probably said:  gaijin.

On to the linkage…

About as a heart-warming story as you’re going to read…I understood why Bengals wideout Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco (Chad Eight Five), 85 is his number after all. You’d think with how tech-savvy Chad is, he could have plugged in “eighty-five” into Google Translate and found out that the correct Spanish translation is ochenta y cinco, not ochocinco. Oh well, at least he has his own cereal, mistranslated name and all… Mohler demolishes so-called theistic evolution…Jennifer Aniston’s latest offering flops at the box office, big surprise since she seems to want to resurrect the chest-clutching Rachel Green character in every one of her movies… Jim Furyk gets DQ’d from a PGA tournament because his cell phone alarm doesn’t go off, oops…Ever watch that Tea Party Scene in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland? The masterminds who orchestrated it were the March Hare and the Mad Hatter (below). Perhaps that’s what we can call these 2 billionaires who are the masterminds behind the populist Tea Party movement…

[Photo credit:  Disney]

A Hapsburg, LeBron and Martha Stewart Walk Into A Bar…

Carles Puyol (right) who looks like he just stepped out of a Hapsburg family portrait, heads Spain into the World Cup Final. As a descendant of the Hapsburg’s, Puyol will be looking for some payback by cracking some skulls against the Netherlands on Sunday

My guess is that since LeBron James missed not having a signing day presser coming out of high school, he’s making up for lost time with “The Decision”. Great column on the LeBron “saga” that  mercifully ends tonight.

When the folks at NASA aren’t trying to reach out to the Muslim world, they’re conducting valuable research.

Forget Wife Swap, how ’bout an old-fashioned spy swap? Makes me want to re-read The Cardinal of the Kremlin.

So now these “elites” will become embittered and “cling to martini glasses or environmentalism or antipathy towards people who don’t think like them or anti-American sentiment or anti-capitalism sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Right POTUS?

Unbelievable pictures of Monterrey in the aftermath of Hurricane Alex.

Holy poncho Batman! Martha Stewart had lengua, easily the most underrated “cut” of beef.

Caught this on PBS last night, I might or might not have almost shed a tear because of Jackie’s courage in the face of such bitter hatred.

[Photo Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe]

Totalitarian Democracy

I became fascinated by the small island nation of Iceland in large part to Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising. A tome which probably doesn’t resonate with people who didn’t live during the Cold War, but which is a captivating and thrilling read.

I hope to visit the country at some point in my life, at least to see how they do Mexican food there…


Tabasco’s, a Mexican restaurant in Reykjavik (Photo Credit: Funofthefair)

One of Clancy’s subplots focuses on Iceland, it’s takeover by a Soviet Air Guards division and inevitable (Clancy is American after all) liberation by NATO forces led by U.S. Marines aided by a scrawny Air Force weatherman and his merry band.

So naturally, when I ran across the following article, Is Iceland a Totalitarian State?, I decided to check it out,

  1. Because it’s about Iceland
  2. Totalitarian __________ and Iceland seem incongruous

Needless to say, the article was eye-opening for it’s description of how a seemingly free, liberal even and democratic society can be anything but. And also for its relevancy to the way America is governed.

An excerpt,

Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life. J.L. Talmon used the term “totalitarian democracy” to refer to a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.

It has a certain ring of familiarity to it, no?

Zampolits!

From Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising,

If there was anything Alekseyev didn’t need now it was a zampolit!

Exactly a week ago, I had one of those days here at the lab. Of course, to me “one of those days” is everyday for a lot of people with high pressure jobs, yet because this is not the norm I’m quite unaccustomed to them.

Going in that morning I knew it was going to be a doozy, given the fact that I had a full day’s worth of work in the pipe, and that’s OK, that’s what I get paid for and honestly, I enjoy the investigative nature of my work.

What, of course, cannot be predicted are the situations that come up, or spring up that distract one from achieving one’s objectives.

For example, as I sat there elbow-deep in the work cited above, the bane of every busy research assistant’s existence needed a few moments of my time: the life science sales rep.

Immediately, my mind went to the sentiment of Clancy’s fictional Soviet general regarding the political officer (KGB) who had interrupted his work. The rep had become my zampolit, a good man with good intentions but choosing the wrong time to offer potentially helpful, though irrelevant to the task at hand, information.

What must go without saying is that even at the height of our diligence, the rules of charity cannot be thrown out the window. So I was polite to the rep’s entreaties (hard not to do since after all, he is a nice guy) yet my preoccupation with leaving work at a decent hour must have been evident on my face, thus he shortened his pitch.

As for a fellow research assistant who (on this fine day) needed help on how to use a new (for her) piece of equipment, being charitable was a bit more difficult.  Given the fact that while asking for instruction, she wanted to be the instructor.  Ironically enough this dear woman hails from the former Soviet Union, might she have received training to be a zampolit?  Perhaps she came from a line of zampolits?

American Puritanism and Eliot Spitzer

From the pen of Tom Clancy,

The dollar was already falling… In Europe, traders on their way home heard their cellular phones start beeping to call them back. Something unexpected was afoot. Analysts wondered if it had anything to do with the developing sex scandal within the American government. Europeans always wondered at the American fixation with the sexual dalliances of politicians. It was foolish, puritanical, and irrational, but it was real to the American political scene, and that made it a relevant factor in how they handled American securities. — From Debt of Honor, emphasis mine

Thought this relevant in light of the revelations emanating from the state of New York earlier this week. I have a European co-worker who more or less agrees with Clancy’s take.

To a lesser degree, my admiration for Pres. Bill Clinton was not stifled when the Lewinsky scandal broke, but in fact it grew. My “reasoning” had to do with what I, in my darkened understanding, perceived his dalliance with a woman half his age as a sign of the man’s virility. I wholeheartedly agreed (past tense) with comedian Chris Rock in thinking that it was all Hillary’s fault. As the ever witty Rock commented,

A man is only as faithful as his options

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