It's election time here in Japan. Forward-thinking innovators that they are, the Japanese have solved the problem of campaign finance reform by making assholes with megaphones the primary venue of political discourse. The better-funded organizations record women with infantile voices reading their slogans and hire dirty old men to drive around residential neighborhoods in trucks with loud-speakers. The lesser-funded organizations have to rely on less mobile, slightly less dirty old men outside of train stations to get their message across. It's all the more irritating because the message never even amounts to much; nearly every other word, from radicals and establishment candidates alike, is "thank-you-(polite-acquaintance)". I resent the implication that I've done them some kindness. The idiot who sets up outside of my school in the evening spends half of his time listing other train lines where he likes to jabber. (And then he thanks the train lines, as if they can hear him. I want to learn Japanese if only to tell him what a fucking idiot he is.) There is a passage in Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons: The Dark Side of Modern Japan about a Japanese neighborhood that demanded several trees be cut down because they might attract "noisy birds", but never thought to register a complaint about the roving politicians or the squawking traffic signals. (Traffic signals squawk here.) As is to be expected, then, our students just passively accept the idiots-with-megaphones, never taking notice or registering annoyance with them. Some teachers, myself included, use the idiots-with-megaphones as objects for "culture lessons" about how anybody doing that in a Western country would get the crap beaten out of them. (Students are considered to have failed if they don't head downstairs after the lesson and tell the idiot with the megaphone to shut up.) I have found that teaching is all about making your fury educational as best you can.
I have been trying to keep up with politics in the United States, but I am inevitably disconnected from events, and must rely on internet articles to give me a sense of what is happening. Checking up on the Democratic primaries, I found these poll results:
I can see that Gen. Wesley Clark is in the lead with Gov. Howard Dean running second, but what surprises me is that someone called Monkey Brain appears to have 3% of the vote. Is a monkey brain running for president under the Democratic banner? If so, let me issue a strong caution about voting for monkey brains that do not reside within monkey bodies. It's true of all species: removed from their bodies, brains in jars become violent, hateful and deranged; in the case of monkeys, their natural whimsy turns into sinister, calculating evil. Hence, I cannot endorse the monkey brain's candidacy. It would be interesting to see a demographic breakdown of its supporters. I suspect that it has cornered the pure evil vote, who historically have supported vengeful abominations of science, and that evidently gives him higher numbers than poor Dennis Kucinich. (Come on, Kooch.) My best guess is that the monkey brain may be some kind of Green Party affiliate, and its support will level off in a few weeks when Ralph Nader returns from vacation and insists that Monkey Brain be returned to Monkey Body. (But where will the monkey brain swing votes go?)
Much like their American counterparts, the Democratic Party of Japan firmly believes in putting out its fist and sort of hoping that evil walks into it at a speed that will bring about an impact that will cause evil to re-think its actions but not hurt the Democratic Party of Japan's knuckles too badly.
This poster is yet more evidence that people have become all too quick to point the blame at spectral black apparitions for social problems. They are truly the scapegoat of the modern age; and when you consider the recent statistics showing that the ratio of spectral-black-apparition-on-random-old-guy-and-school-girl violence is actually significantly lower than the numbers on random-old-guy-and-school-girl-on-spectral-black-apparition violence, it becomes all the more egregious.
Also, let me make one more thing perfectly clear:
These croissants can brag about their eating ability all they like, but when breakfast was over, one of us was eaten, and it wasn't me.