For the fifth time this year, absolutely nothing happened throughout the world yesterday as Japan's newspapers took yet another publishing holiday.
This unbelievable phenomenom occurs once a month in Japan when all sources of print news except for sports newspapers- of which there are many- just don't appear.
One might assume that struggling "old" media companies don't want to pay penalty rates for forcing staff to work on public holidays, however this argument falls flat on two accounts. Firstly, half of the "newspaper holidays" fall nowhere near public holidays, and I have never heard of any company in Japan paying penalty rates, EVER.
Apparenlty the idea of split shifts is too complicated for Japanese companies to grasp and delivery personnel only get one day off a month.
Memoirs of an English speaking Chinese Geisha??
With Sino-Japanese relations at the lowest point since the end of WW2, the recently released Hollywood movie "Memoirs of a Geisha", is bound to stir things up more. The problem with this movie (leaving aside all of the "artistic liberties taken, such as English speaking, long-hair-wearing Geishas with their unpainted faces) is the casting, with the top three female roles being portrayed by Chinese actresses. Who knows what the casting director was thinking, however it is bound to put a lot of noses out of joint on both sides of the Sea of Japan (East Sea.)
Let's start with Japan, which, as usual, isn't as upset as China is. It is hard to believe that in all of Japan, there wasn't one actress qualified enough for the lead role. To give the director the benefit of the doubt though, it may have been a lack of English ability of the Japanese contenders, or maybe he just wanted a big-name star. I mean, can you name one famous Japanese actress?
One the other side however, emotions are running a little higher, which seems to be the case with anything to do with Japan recently (see my earlier piece on the coming China-Japan war.
The Chinese reaction seems to be split into two camps: On one side we have the folks that are boasting that even in a movie about a strictly Japanese tradition, set in Japan, Chinese actresses were deemed far superior to Japanese actresses. Taunts along the lines of, "They are so culturally inferior to us that they had to get Chinese actresses to play their own roles." yada yada.
The other camp in the angry Chinese side is of course the nationalistic Japan haters who never let facts get in the way of a good rage. Chinese bloggers are up in arms about having a Chinese actress play a prostitute-never mind the fact that a geisha, which is written with the characters Gei, meaning "skill" and Sha, meaning person, has never been a prostitute, regardless of the uninformed western image. To become a geisha takes many years of intense training in many art forms, amoung them dancing, and the playing of such traditional instruments as the shamisen.
Critics have posted online comments recalling Japan's brutal invasion of China and denouncing Zhang as an embarrassment to China.
"She went out of her way to portray an outlet for Japanese desires. This is a loss of face for the Chinese. The Chinese were comfort women during World War II, and they continue to serve Japanese in modern times," said one recent posting on the news site of Chinese Web portal Netease.com, referring to Chinese women recruited as prostitutes during the Japanese invasion.
"Zhang Ziyi, shame of China," another anonymous posting said.
"She's sold her soul and betrayed her country. Hacking her to death would not be good enough," China's state media quoted another blogger as saying of Zhang.
All this bruhaha may being surprising to the American producers and director of the movie, after all, all Asians look alike, right? Believe it or not, all Asians don't look anything alike to each other (or to westerners who have spent any length of time is Asia), nationalities are clearly distinguishable.
Finally a movie about Asians starring mostly Asians, maybe next time they'll get the nationalities right.
Chinese troops invade Okinawa
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Oct. 18 -- Chinese troops have invaded Okinawa, the U.S. Department of Defense said."
This was the lead in to a fake story posted to a fake Yahoo Japan news site on October 19 of this year by jobless former computer programmer Takahiro Yamamoto (30) of Nagasaki. He was arrested today for violating the copyright law after Yahoo filed a criminal complaint.
The story received close to 67000 hits between 4:26pm on October 18 when it was posted and 1:13pm the following day.
I'm surprised that Tokyo's ultraright nationalist Governer Shintaro Ishihara, didn't jump on the story and declare war on behalf of Japan. With all the shit stirring he has been doing recently this stunt would have played right into the hands of his gangster buddies.
related: The coming China-Japan war
Over on flickr
I stumbled across a group of people contributing photos under the label, "camera toss". It is a "technique group" which involves throwing your camera in the air, mostly at night and near various coloured lights and hopfully catching it on the way down. Some of the photos are amazingly beautiful.
Seen here are a couple of my first attempts at camera tossing and I'll be out in the near future trying to take some more. I would imagine living in Japan, home to pachinko, karaoke and the the probable inventor of neon, I'm sure it won't be hard to find some great places to toss.
The group has some strict guidelines too regarding what may be labeled as a camera toss. Apparently it is ok if you don't let go of the strap- as I have been doing- but you must actually let go of the camera. Holding the camera and moving it about, while potentially producing some lovley photos, is not technically camera tossing and you will find any photos taken in this way will be rejected.
You can check out the group here
Or you can check out my photostream here
if you like.
Over on the Thaivisa.com forums
there is a topic asking people what their biggest fear of moving to or living in Thailand would be. One poster said "Fearing what may become of Thailand when the King passes on."
A subsequent poster enquired (naturally enough I might think) what the implications of the King passing away might be.
The answer this poster received was as follows:
"dont go there... as the forum rules state
"Discussion of topics concerning the King or other current or deceased members of the Thai Royal Family is forbidden. "
I understand that this probably has a lot to do with Thailand's "lese majeste" laws, which call for stiff punishment for making any critical or defamatory remarks about the King or the royal family. Also included is " Purposely tearing or destroying Thai bank notes, which carry an image of the King, may be considered such an offense, as can spitting on or otherwise defiling an official uniform bearing royal insignia." source
This crime is punishable by a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years (plus I wouldn't want to imagine the treatment you would receive in prison at the hands of the guards and the other prisoners.)
Notwithstanding this, I would still like to know what the implications for Thailand would be upon the passing away of the King. This is not meant in anyway to be disrespectful by any means. I just thought I would start a discussion outside of Thailand and away from censorship.
If anybody has any opinions on this I would welcome them to discuss them here. Please do keep it respectful though.
It appears that the Lese Majeste laws even prohibit linking to any sites where free discussion is allowed. The link to this site at the abovementioned site lasted 10 minutes before it was "edited" read: deleted.
Fun with Opera
The Opera browser ( opera.com
) has just been updated and is now free of advertising. It has long been the best browser available and it has just gotten better. One of the new features is "voice" where you can highlight some text on a webpage and the browser will read it out to you in a monotonous robot voice.
Try getting it to read out the lyrics to "Suck my dick"
by Lil' Kim, the female rapper who only this week went to the big house on a 366 day bid for lying under oath.
I guarantee the results are hilarious.
A rethink on the bush impeachment
After posting yesterday
I have decided that I may not have thought the whole "impeach bush" thing through thoroughly. I mean in the highly unlikely event that the little emperor is impeached, and even then if he is removed from office, think about what happens next. Look who is next in line for the crown.
As bad as it is having an incompetent moron as the boss of the world, how much worse would it be if the real shot caller who is not so much stupid as just plain evil was on the throne.
While impeaching the terrorist is a great idea, I think we need to think of the consequences. If Dick is capable of holding up the helping of New Orleans for a few days in order to fatten the inevitable Halliburton clean-up contract, what will he do when he really
holds the strings?