Friday, October 3, 2008

Readings for October 3, 2008

Can Nokia help save the failed business model of the major recording companies? I think this is a great idea - subsidizing the music download subscriptions of cellphone users, I'm not sure that it will work unless Apple does it too, but I think it will work eventually. The reality is that people experience music in a way that cds just don't address, people will continue to believe that music should be free because it is ubiquitous. There is no experience known to Americans that is not mediated by music.
Push polls, where people living in highly politically-contested areas are directly confronted with (but anonymously) with lies in the form of opinion surveys were first made known when Bush ran for office in 2000. This is simply psychological warfare conducted on the American people by those with a vested interest in a particular politician. It's done by calling potential voters in an area, asking them questions about their voting habits and then introducing misleading information, such as asking, "Would you vote for Barak Obama if you knew that he was being funded by Palestinian terrorists?"

Nietzsche said that back in the 19th century and we still don't have a response. In fact, it still sounds radical to people living over 150 years later. This is a story about what prisoners use for money now that cigarettes are banned: cans of mackerel. Yes, the fish. And yes, that's what money REALLY is.
Here's a review of a new book published here in Japan discussing how former Prime Minister Koizumi (the guy that kept going to the shrine of the War Heroes) and George Bush have hobbled Japan in the near future. Both leaders suffer from an accute lack of vision, meaning neither have done anything to put their respective countries in a better place than they were before they arrived in office. I like how succinctly the book's author, Minoru MORITA, puts it: step one on the road to recovery (for the U.S. and Japan) is to admit that the Bush administration has made the world less secure than it was before he came into office.

This is really important for America to understand: Japan is likely going to ask that the U.S. leave in the next decade. The Japanese people are increasingly distrustful that the U.S. can protect them from enemies like North Korea (because North Korea has successfully launched missiles across Japan without response from the U.S.) Furthermore, the U.S., with the largest military force in the world, has become unwieldy - like an overweight American. All you have to do is run for more than two minutes and the guy gets too winded to keep up; you don't even have to punch him. Increasingly the battles that America is going to engage in (and potentially lose) are going to be without bullets, that is they will be fought over access to information, as well as simple sabotage of complex machinery (like when China accidentally destroyed that satelite and it scattered debris all over space thereby making it unsafe to operate satelites in the area). Moving over half the soldiers off Okinawa and to Guam is going to make it really problematic to keep the other half here.

But what about the economic implications to Okinawa, Paul? Don't worry, Koizumi's economics policies have probably destabilized confidence in his party enough that the Japanese are likely to pursue a very different economic approach. The fall out from the Great Depression coming in the next few years will damage Japan in such a way that a greater interdepence with China and Korea is more likely to be the solution to Okinawa than the continued presence of the U.S. military.

Beer from Space also from The Japan Times
It's Friday here, loosen up. Sapporo asked that barley be cultivated at the International Space Station the other year. Now they are ready to see what happens when you make beer from the stuff. Take that Korea! They brought kimchi up to the space station the other month ago.

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