Friday, March 20, 2009

Life on the funny farm

Having more money than brains, I dropped in at the Denenchofu Precce so I could buy the same product at a higher price compared to Ozeki at Okusawa or the generic Tokyu (which actually owns Precce).

I didn't need to shop around for what I wanted, for they have had the exact same products since Christ was a child. "New and improved" ain't a label one sees in the grocery store.

I walked over to the bento display and bravely risked being knocked down and trampled (politely, of course) by the lunch time crowd to get my overpriced tempura (¥50 more than Tokyu), and some spring rolls. Then I just had to grab an ice cream sandwich.

I went to the checkout---fortunately it was not yet crowded and I did not have anyone run to cut me off and get in line ahead of me like often happens (good manners, of course).

After bowing and welcoming me (I think this accounts for part of the higher price here. Can't think of much else that would), the young lady at the register began the interrogation. "Would you like dry ice included with the ice cream?" "No" says I. "Would you like the hot food in the same bag [as the ice cream]?" Huh?!

My slow feeble brain did not comprehend. I hesitated to ask for clarification, for when I have done so recently, people have suddenly switched to an incomprehensible English combined with a comical pantomime so that everyone becomes completely confused.

I decided to take a risk and ask "The hot food in the same bag as the ice cream?" She looked at me in semi-panic. Oh sh*t, I thought, now I have caused trouble. But luckily she was able to bring her brain back from holiday, say "excuse me" and grab another bag and hand it to me so that I could put my ice cream in.

But this isn't the funny farm. This is normal. The funny farm is the world of politics, both Japanese and US. I quit paying much attention to Japanese politics as soon as it became clear even to me that it is more of an exercise in theory than anything else to expect the LDP to be replaced and a real, competitive two party system to start. It may happen, but I'll wait and be shocked. Is the LDP the new Tokugawa government? Will we have to wait centuries?

As bad as Japanese politics are, the US seems to be getting even worse. Sort of a farce. A few weeks ago, the US press was all giddy over a "debate" about Rush Limbaugh!! The world in an economic crisis and we care about Limbaugh? Even Obama got in on that earlier. Uh, excuse me Barack, why are you worrying about a talk show host?

Now the US Congress has passed a special tax targeting a specific group of people who are unpopular at the moment.* What country is that? Will Senator Chucky Cheese Grassley call for them to commit suicide? Perhaps introduce a bill to have them sent to Gauntanamo and tortured? There'd be popular support. F**k any constitution/legal questions, they's the gubbermit and they can do what they want. Now I remember why I was once a libertarian who, for a short time, flirted with Ayn Rand objectivism.

Wouldn't it be a better idea to focus on the real problem first? You know, the one that has been repeatedly (and believably) called the greatest economic crisis since the Depression?

That's why I have began to avoid reading news about politics or the economy as much as possible (and thus, fewer posts on this blog). I believe that this is the most bizarre period I have ever seen.

Now, to get off the computer and the Internet before I do something stupid like read Thomas Friedman. Gonna do the least crazy thing I can today and chase birds.

* (21 March) This inanity by Congress, some of the Senate, and the entertain-em first portion of the US press is called "Perverse Cosmic Myopia" by the NYT's David Brooks.

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