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Showing posts from November, 2010

Nissan Leaf In The News In Europe: Car Of The Year, Post Peak

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I don't own a car and do not plan to buy one, especially considering the economic situation we face, which is really a global bubble bust, and if you are lucky, you live in a country that still has a banking system. I take the trains and walk a lot. If I was in great need of a car, what would I do? (Again, not a scenario that is on the radar)

In the midst of all the news from Europe about huge risks that the Euro Zone may collapse, and what will the Germans do after the Irish bailout, with worries about Spain (and others), how is this for some "good" news:

The Telegraph: Nissan Leaf wins Car of the Year

Yup. The world's first mass produced battery electric car wins the premier European award. That's how serious things have gotten. No more SUVs, Hummers (and Volvo, now owned by a Chinese upstart, came 6th in the rankings).

I find it ironic that mass media is still so caught up in the car craze. I understand that a lot of people live in places where they really, reall…

Okinawa Election Results

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The results of the election on Sunday in Okinawa are as follows, according to Ryukyu Shimpo, the local newspaper. NHK also notes that the LDP-backed candidate, Nakaima, 71 years old has won.

335708 仲井真弘多 Nakaima Hirokazu
297082 伊波 洋一 Iha Yoichi

Both said they want Futenma, the US military base, moved out of Okinawa. Peace activists, however, doubt that Nakaima Hirokazu will follow up on this pledge. To NHK (video) he notes on Sunday night that the US military bases are not there just for the sake of Okinawa, but for the sake of the entire country. He also says, again, that the base should be relocated outside of the prefecture of Okinawa.

However...

While Iha Yoichi unequivocally opposes a new base in Okinawa, there has been some confusion by incumbent governor Nakaima's expression of his intent to call for relocation of MCAS Futenma "outside of Okinawa." However, throughout the campaign, he has avoided the question of whether he really opposed the government's plan to bu…

Saving Forests, Silent Running (1972)

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Forests, left alone, are amazing places. This 1972 movie, Silent Running, tried to tell people how precious they are.



Wikipedia: Silent Running

On this planet, we think we can just go in and make profit, cutting down trees, selling the wood elsewhere. I vividly remember my parents had a small mahogany table, bought in the late 1960s:

It has a reddish-brown color, which darkens over time, and displays a reddish sheen when polished. It has excellent workability, and is very durable. Historically, the tree's girth allowed for wide boards from traditional mahogany species. These properties make it a favourable wood for crafting cabinets and furniture.

A wide variety of electric guitars are also made with mahogany, notably the famous Gibson Les Paul, which uses a sandwiched body with a maple cap over a mahogany core. The tighter grain of maple generally yields a brighter tone, the combination of woods produce a warm, rounded tone with great sustain, as well as weight, for which the guitar…

Zen Peace & Korea (Old Story)

Zen Peace
When a rebel army swept into a town in Korea,
all the monks of the Zen temple fled except
for the abbot.

The general came into the temple and was annoyed
that the abbot did not receive him with respect.

“Don't you know,” he shouted,
“that you are looking at a man who can
run you through without blinking?”

“And you,” replied the abbot strongly,
“are looking at a man who can be run
through without blinking!”
The general stared at him,
then made a bow and retired.

from Trevor Leggett
The Tiger's Cave
Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1977), p. 160

If you like Kurashi, use it as a tool, and use the Internet links to find what you are looking for. Stop reading what is not helpful for you. Thank you for reading Kurashi.

Consumers Union of Japan: Not Impressed By DPJ's Arguments For A Trans Pacific Partnership Kind Of Free Trade Agreement

Farmers are protesting, while large companies and labour unions are for the TPP. Consumers Union of Japan says, "No thank you" and argues that food self-sufficiency and food safety rules must be soverign national issues, not to be abandoned to trade negotiators with mandates for Mutual Recognition systems.

I. e. if country A says "our milk is safe" then country B must agree, "OK, you seem to have some kind of system in place to ensure that milk from your country is safe, thus we will agree that your system is as good as ours (whatever it is) and we will OK imports of milk from your country."

From Consumers Union of Japan:

The Problems of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement

Yamaura Yasuaki
Secretary General of Consumers Union of Japan
November 3, 2010

1) The Problems of FTA/EPA

Currently, the participation in TPP is a very large political issue for Japan. We regard TPP as simply a part of the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) that have come into effect since M…

Japan: Farmers Protesting Around The Country Against TPP (Free Trade Agreement)

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There have been massive protests all around Japan during the last week against the proposed TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). It is a new "free" trade agreement that would make it virtually impossible for Japanese farmers to compete with cheap imports. There is nothing to gain for consumers either, while business and labour think it could be a great idea to revive manufacturing and exports.

I collected some photos from Yokohama (Boston.com), Sapporo (website of Matsuura Munenobu, a local politician), Tokyo (website of Hyogo JA Group), and Fukuoka (Nishi Nippon Shimbun). There is much more on the web, of course, as farmers here are up in arms against a trade deal that is as unfair as they come: reduce all tariffs at once! import more food! get rid of any safety net that is left for farmers in Japan!

Note that the Boston.com Post photo (38) is part of a huge group of some 50 images of protests around the world over the past weeks. Do explore.













(Bonus video from the Anti-APEC demons…

Thoughts On Peak Oil And What It Could Mean For Us Living In Japan

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A flurry of emails followed the last release of an important report on oil from International Energy Agency (IEA), led by Nobuo Tanaka. Blogger Panda Bonium and myself have discussed this topic before, but the latest report seems to confirm that so-called peak oil has already happened:

Peak oil is not just here — it’s behind us already.

That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization that provides energy analysis to 28 industrialized nations. According to a projection in the agency’s latest annual report, released last week, production of conventional crude oil — the black liquid stuff that rigs pump out of the ground — probably topped out for good in 2006, at about 70 million barrels per day. Production from currently producing oil fields will drop sharply in coming decades, the report suggests.

Now, curiously, the above comment was hidden away on a blog over at New York Times, called Is "Peak Oil" Behind US? Soon, a much less serious tak…

The Great Buddha In Kamakura

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You knew it had to happen at some point. A foreign head of state, "I'd like to visit the Great Buddha which I once got to visit as a child."

The Kamakura bronze statue, perhaps not as well known as other significant relgious statues, if only beacuse this is about meditation, deep restfulness, serene bliss...

A huge, lovely, sexy monument to the fact that we can just sit down, and ignore the buzz of the busy world.

The Kamakura Great Buddha: A fantastic, matrix-like, huge, natural place to... wash your hands, rinse your mouth (do not forget, it is a Japanese temple) and walk slowly towards the deity.

Good.

Trading In Your Language: The On & Kun Barrier

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I dream, in all the wrong languages. I wake up wondering what that was all about. Did I just dream in Swedish, Japanese, English, French, whatever? Is my High School German suddenly about to usurp the part of my brain that makes dreams more real than the real thing (quoting U2 here).

I do wake up not quite sure what language I just dreamt in.

If you don't know your on from your kun readings, this is where to start.







Learning kanji is a good way to get into a lot of fun and profound imi 意味 I mean "meaning" but rather in the sense of 意見 (iken) and 味 (aji).

I like how that also relates to other senses, taste, smell...



This could be a way for you to finally get your brain to start trying to learn kanji.

For better kanji aids, try Hiroko: it is super easy!

Yes, learning Japanese may seem a lot like learning sign language (or Swahili, or make that Swedish!). This is a very deep and profound language to learn, especially if you are interested in ancient poetry, Buddhist philosophy, Ja…

No G20 Free Trade Deal For Beef And Cars: Are You Surprised?

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The U.S. wants more free trade to export its beef and cars to Asia. Yonhap, the official South Korean news channel says, there is no deal, as Obama fails to get Korea to agree.

Meanwhile, Japan is up in arms against the so-called TPP, another badly-thought-out deal, that would make it impossible for Japanese farmers to compete with cheap imports from the U.S.

We know that beef and cars are the main culprits that cause climate change and environmental havoc, and we have noted that the U.S. Officially Do Not Care (C). Case in point, the Obama administration is not even thinking about joining international efforts like protecting biological diversity on this beautiful planet. He will also not visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki when he arrives in Japan this fall.

We do know that there are a lot of intelligent and socially aware citizens in that country who would like to combat climate change and stop the madness, be it nuclear or biocidal. We just wish they would stand up and join the fight ag…

Joe Hisaishi - Totoro Theme

Joe Hisaishi plays Totoro Theme with the Orchestra

A Wish to the Moon



Joe Hisaishi - 風のとおり道; a Wish to the Moon; Joe Hisaishi & 9 Cellos 2003 Etude & Encore Tour. A music composition from Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbour Totoro".

No More Patents On DNA?

This is an issue I have worked on for over 15 years: No Patents On Life.

I'll keep this brief, suddenly the U.S. is reversing a totally unreasonable position that meant that DNA was something you could patent. It was based on a rather strange decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, and never really debated in Congress or in any democratic way. Now, it seems this will be reversed:

New York Times: U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents


Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

“The chemical structure of native human genes is a product of nature, and it is no less a product of nature when that structure is ‘isolated’ from its natural environment than are cotton fibers that have been separated from cotton seeds or coal that has been extracted from the earth,” the brief s…