Japan

The Beltway Sketch (Civics: General and Particular)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump speaks about trade in the Oval Office of the White House, 31 March 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

What additional commentary could possibly go here? You will, eventually, encounter a conservative complaining about Democratic obstructionism, and these are some points worth keeping in mind:

1. Democrats are in the minority, and don’t control the Senate calendar.

2. Filibusters on executive-branch nominees have been eliminated. Senate Dems can slow the process down a bit when they want to, delaying votes by a couple of weeks in some instances, but they don’t have the power to block any of Trump’s nominees on their own. It’s simply not possible as a procedural matter.

3. In order for nominees to be confirmed, they have to be sent. Of the 559 key positions in the administration requiring Senate confirmation, Trump has not yet nominated anyone for 442 of the posts. This is especially true when it comes to ambassadors: for the vast majority of these diplomatic positions, the White House hasn’t yet nominated anyone. Josh Barro noted that only five countries currently have U.S. nominees awaiting Senate confirmation: Bahamas, Ethiopia, Holy See, Japan, and New Zealand (and the Vatican doesn’t really count as a country, per se).

All of this is of particular interest right now because there is no current U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, which affects our response to the two recent British terrorist attacks. Trump chose Woody Johnson for the post months ago, but the administration never formally nominated Johnson, so the Senate hasn’t been able to even consider acting.

Trump apparently wants to blame Democrats for this. Even by his standards, that’s completely bonkers.

(Benen)

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The One About a Spare Cerebellum

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

This is … er … a lede:

Here’s a horrifying little story to kick off your weekend: A 16-year-old girl in Japan recently had a tumor surgically removed from her ovary — and when her doctors split it open, they found a tiny brain growing inside.

Or, you know, as the headline from Science of Us explained, “Doctors Found a Tiny Second Brain Growing Inside This Woman’s Tumor”.

(more…)

Far Out

Suntory labels: Hibiki 12, and The Yamazaki 18 and 12. (Detail of undated AP Photo)

And then there is this:

Japan Real Time (WSJ)Not content with having the best whisky in the world, Suntory Holdings Ltd. plans to take its whisky out of this world and into space.

The Japanese brewing and distilling company said this week it would send a total of six samples of its whiskies and other alcoholic beverages to the International Space Station, where they will be kept for at least a year to study the effect zero gravity has on aging.

According to a spokesman at the company, the samples, which will be carried in glass flasks, will include both a 21-year-old single malt and a beverage that has just been distilled. Research has shown that whisky aged in an environment with little temperature change, convection of fluids and shaking tends to be become “mellower,” he said.

(Hongo)

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Hongo, Jun. “Suntory Plans Space-Aged Whisky”. Japan Real Time. 31 July 2015.

A Real-Time Note in Which Confusion Rises, Then Gives Way to Mild Embarrassment

Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah's Ark in Sapporo.  (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, 'Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows ...".)

I think we’re all aware that (ahem!) This Is a Small and Insignificant Corner of the Internet. That does not trouble me; it’s a free-hosted blog written by a middle-aged nobody with too much time on his hands. And some days the numbers are puzzling, like when they actually climb. There was the time This Is saw thrice its usual attendance simply because of a post about a crazy elected official in Missouri calling for a coup against President Obama, for instance.

Then again, sometimes they’re puzzling in other ways, and it takes a moment to settle the thought: Ah, I’m getting hits from Bahrain because I use the word Daa’ish. Well, that or someone is interested in the fútbol match ‘twixt England and Germany. You know, weird things like that. Or the time WordPress lost track of the United Kingdom, which was just plain funny.Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

You know what would get really good ratings? A fútbol match between this year’s World Cup winner and whatever team Daa’ish can field.

Seriously, that would end the war. The ladies would strip off and oil up, and win the game, anyway, leaving Daa’ish broken and humiliated, and probably cut to pieces by their superiors, who would in turn be broken and humiliated, and then we’d get a year off from the war because they were trying to field a new team, with hostilities only resuming after Daa’ish returns to the pitch and finds themselves devastated by the winner of the Gay Olympics.

Ratings would be down for that one. But they’d be up again for the bombing campaign that would start the next week.

Oh, right. Our ratings. This Is occasionally gets German readership, and it’s not impossible when bagging on Daa’ish to draw a hit from Syria. But six countries in addition to my own U.S.? Nine hits from Lebanon? Four hits from Iceland?

Now I find myself wondering what the hell I did. The diverse range was already established before I made the joke about Doctor Who mashups, so that can’t be it.

Seriously, I spent all day whining about homophobes and Republicans, even when those two terms weren’t redundant.

Oh … that’s right.

Damn, and here I was getting on with some serious self-gratifying humor. Then I had to go and ruin it by remembering the answer to the question.

Okay, okay. Look, to my neighbors in Liban, I really didn’t mean to bait you. It’s true I named my cat Liban, but that’s short for Libane, which in turn is the name of a fish spirit from Irish folklore. But that’s beside the point; in this case, Lebanon refers to a Japanese cartoon transvestite.

And, yeah, it’s true, I did actually get one of those self-gratifying grins from breaking the news. To the other, you already knew about the cartoon transvestite, since you clicked, and saw, and … right.

But thank you for stopping by. All of you. Lebanon, Iceland, France, Syria, Germany, Japan. And, of course, my American neighbors. It is one thing to say it’s not about the raw numbers; I’m certain I would feel differently if the blog drew five hundred hits a day or something. But I only rant like this because I cannot stop, and it is very kind of you to waste a few minutes out of your day discovering that fact for yourself.

Be well, and stop by whenever. We’re always happy to see you. Or not, you know, actually see you, I guess, since this is a virtual sort of thing, but, damn it, you know what I mean.

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Image note: Top―Lebanon cooks for Suou and July at Noah’s Ark in Sapporo. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, “Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows …”.) Right―Daily statistics for This Is, 7 April 2015.

Black and White and Purple All Over

Now in Black and White!

Okay, the thing is that the slogans rotate, so not everyone gets this ironic moment. And it’s true, the whole thing about being in black and white is supposed to be taken in that humorous, conscious, passive-aggressive self-deprecation.

Still, though, Matt Tarpley went with shades of purple, and I’m guessing that’s today’s clue:

This week Mary Death goes to Japan! For real, I am in Japan right now buying all the things.

Also, there will be a special guest artist appearing for Friday’s strip. Eggciting! I have left a tiny clue as to which comic this artist comes from …

So, hey, play along. To the one, it’s a great strip in general, written and illustrated by a talented artist. To the other, I’m never right about these things, so come Friday you can appropriately razz me for being wrong about the clue.

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Tarpley, Matt. “Japan!” Mary Death. 4 November 2014.

Just One of Those Things … or, Tragically Hilarious

When does a car wreck become international news? Well, quite obviously when there is something spectacular about it. Meanwhile, in the long history of wealth and luxury, sometimes folks gloat over certain misfortunes because they simply disdain the rich, whether for genuine cause or simple jealousy.

It helps, too, when nobody dies. Then you can call something like the Associated Press report out of Tokyo tragically hilarious:

Eight Ferraris, a Lambo, and a couple of BenzosAn outing of luxury sportscar enthusiasts in Japan ended in an expensive freeway pileup—smashing a stunning eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes likely worth more than $1 million together.

Police say they believe the accident Sunday was touched off when the driver of one of the Ferraris tried to change lanes and hit the median barrier. He spun across the freeway, and the other cars collided while trying to avoid hitting his car ….

…. Police declined to comment on the total amount of damage, but said some of the vehicles were beyond repair.

NTV quoted the driver of one of the tow trucks brought in to clear the scene as saying it was the most expensive crash site he had ever seen.

Ten minor injuries, primarily bruises and cuts; fourteen cars were roughed up in total.

Call it what you want. There are plenty who recognize the craftsmanship of fine cars, and thus will mourn the damage. But even those might grin into their coffee mugs, enjoying some notion of schadenfreude.