- The Verge notes the Japanese cat island of Ainoshima has a music video in a bid to bring Ed Sheeran to its shores.
- ABC notes new findings that Tasmanian Aborigines have used fire to manage their island's forests for 41k years.
- The Independent notes the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma.
- CBC looks at the causes of Salt Spring Island's divisions over the issue of becoming a municipality. (The antis won.)
I've a post up at Demography Matters reflecting briefly on Masahiro Hidaka's Bloomberg article "Japan's Richest Village Can't Find Workers for Its Factory". In this article, Hidaka describes how the village of Sarufutsu, northernmost village in Hokkaido and thus all Japan, is facing a shutdown of its hugely profitable scallops fishery because it is literally running out of workers.
- James Bow writes about the latest computer purchase he has made.
- Far Outliers notes the scarily minimalist goals of the American occupation in early post-war Japan.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that The Nation is not exactly covering itself in glory with its pro-Putin coverage of late.
- Drew Rowsome quite likes the new musical endeavours of Adore Delano.
- Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel notes how stars--and which stars--make elements heavier than iron.
- Transit Toronto notes the impending partial resumption of streetcar service on Queen Street.
- Centauri Dreams shares, from JPL, the schedule for Cassini in its last days of existence. Goodbye, dear probe.
- Dangerous Minds shares some classic illustrations from a Persian book called Lights of Canopus.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting that gas giants can stabilize debris disks.
- Far Outliers shares excerpts from the diary of a Japanese soldier fighting in New Guinea in the Second World War.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the real suffering that high rents impose on the poor in American cities.
- The Map Room Blog shares some nice X-ray maps of New York City subway stations.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares more vintage Voyager photos of the outer solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune ...
- Roads and Kingdoms tells of the marvelous cookies made on the dying Venetian island of Burano.
- Drew Rowsome considers, at length and with personal references, the differences between "art" and "porn". NSFW.
- Understanding Society considers the latest thinking on causal mechanisms in modern sociology.
- Window on Eurasia wonders if non-Russian languages in Russia are attacked out of anxiety over Russian's own decline, and speculates that if integration of mostly Muslim immigrants goes poorly in Moscow, the city could get locked in sectarian conflict.
- Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.
- Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.
- Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.
- The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.
- Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.
- Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.
- Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.
- Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.
- Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.
- The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.
- Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)
- The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.
- The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.
- The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.
- Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.
- Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.
- Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.
- The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?
- Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.
- Vice's Noisey celebrates the life and music of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, whose medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" outlived him.
- The AP describes how Britain's pop music charts have changed to stop future bouts of Ed Sheeran-style domination.
- Hannah Ellis-Peterson reports for The Guardian about how (and why) Sony has opened a new vinyl pressing plant in Japan.
- Carla Gillis reported for NOW Toronto about David McPherson's forthcoming book on the famed Horseshoe Tavern.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the surprisingly exciting British elections. What will come of them?
- The LRB Blog considers the question of the underlying motivations of pollsters.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reshares an old column noting the destabilizing effects of Trump on American alliances.
- The Planetary Society Blog looks at India's new heavy-lift rocket, the GSLV-MK3.
- Torontoist looks at the City of Toronto's response to the overdose crisis.
- Towleroad notes that the Japanese city of Sapporo has recognized same-sex relationships.
- The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the constitutionality of Trump's edicts should not be defined by their being issued by Trump.
- Window on Eurasia argues that Russian policy towards Ukraine since 1991 has been marked by consistent disinterest in Ukraine going its own way.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.
- The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.
- Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.
- Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.
- The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.
- The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.
- Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.
- Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.
- Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?
- Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.
- Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.
- Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.
- blogTO notes the Distillery District's Toronto Light Festival.
- Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.
- Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry's expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.
- The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.
- Marginal Revolution looks at China's very heavy investment in Laos.
- The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.
- Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.
- Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.
At Daily Xtra, Michael Lyons writes about some astonishingly popular homoerotic published for the masses in 17th century Japan, looking at the plot and looking at the import of these stories' popularity.
Funny that same-sex love, at least male homosexuality, was once not only celebrated, but a cultural pastime. Published in 1687, Nanshoku ōkagami, or The Great Mirror of Male Love, was a book of 40 short stories by Ihara Saikaku.
This was at the height of the Tokugawa period when merchant classes, while still considered lower social status than farmers, were enjoying greater wealth that gave them access to prostitutes, urban pleasure quarters, art and popular fiction — the four were often interlinked.
To these chōnin, “townsmen,” the assumption was that romantic and sexual love was to be found outside of the institution of marriage. By this point in Japan’s history, monastic and samurai traditions of age-based hierarchal relationships legitimized homosexuality, so a culturally legitimized “cult of sexual connoisseurship” developed around adolescent boys without any stigma.
The latter half of Saikaku’s collection focuses on relationships with men and young kabuki actors, but it’s the samurai tales that interest me, one in particular, called “Implicated By His Diamond Crest.” The love story starts with Shimamura Daiemon, a 27-year-old samurai, renowned weaponist and engineer; a masterless samurai devoted to his family.
Daiemon attends a firefly viewing party near the outskirts of town near a statue of Buddha said to be carved by Kūkai (posthumously known as Kōbō-Daishi), the founder of Japanese Buddhism — rumoured to be the man who brought homosexuality to Japan — where he anonymously foils an intrigue, saving the reputation of a young samurai named Haruta Tannosuke.
- Anthropology.net looks at the genetics of how the Inuit have adapted to cold weather.
- 'Nathan Smith's Apostrophen shares the author's plans for the coming year.
- Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling shares Margaret Atwood's commitment to fighting for freedom of expression.
- Crooked Timber asks its readers for recommendations in Anglophone science fiction.
- D-Brief notes the discovery of the human mesentery.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at the protoplanetary disk of LkCa 15 disk.
- Far Outliers looks at some lobsters imported to Japan from (a) Christmas Island.
- Joe. My. God. notes Janet Jackson has given birth.
- Language Hat examines the contrast often made between indigenous and immigrant languages.
- Language Log looks at the names of the stations of the Haifa subway.
- Steve Munro notes Bathurst Station's goodbye to Honest Ed's.
- The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe's discoveries at Ceres in the past year.
- Window on Eurasia looks at how the permafrost of the Russian far north is melting and endangering entire cities, and contrasts the prosperity of the Estonian city of Narva relative to the decay of adjacent Ivangorod.
- Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith writes about Christmas cards and memory.
- blogTO notes the impending expansion of the Drake Hotel.
- The Broadside Blog describes a documentary, The Eagle Huntress, about a Mongolian teenage girl who becomes a hunter using eagles, that sounds spectacular.
- Crooked Timber asks readers to help a teenager who has been arrested by the LAPD.
- Dangerous Minds notes some weird monsters from Japanese folklore.
- The Dragon's Tales suggests that the Hellas basin hides the remnants of its ocean.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the finding that Russia was trying to get Trump elected.
- The Volokh Conspiracy considers the issue of hate speech and immigration.
- Window on Eurasia quotes a former Ukrainian president who argues Russia does not want to restore the Soviet Union so much as it wants to dominate others.
- The Yorkshire Ranter notes how the Daily Telegraph is recommending its readers use tax shelters.
- Arnold Zwicky looks at the language of side-eye and stink-eye.
The opinions expressed by Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese premier, in a Bloomberg article by Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro, strike me as eminently plausible. If women are forced to be cute and not allowed to be competent, of course their presences will be limited.
Japan’s women are being held back by pressure from men to be cute, rather than capable, the wife of Japan’s prime minister said in an interview.
"Men’s thinking has not changed," 54-year-old Akie Abe said last week when asked how society’s attitude to women has evolved since she joined the workforce in her twenties. "Japanese men tend to prefer cute women over capable and hardworking women. So women try to appear to be the type that men like. Even very talented women put on cutesy ways."
While many more women now continue working after marriage and children, "big companies are a man’s world," she said. "Some things have changed and others haven’t."
Akie said she supports her husband Shinzo Abe’s efforts to have women play a more active role in society. The premier has championed a goal of having at least 30 percent of management roles in all fields filled by women, in a bid to make up for the labor shortage caused by Japan’s aging and shrinking population. The country is making slow progress toward those targets -- a government survey published last year found 8.3 percent of those in section chief or higher positions in business were female, compared with 7.5 percent the year before.
"My feeling is that women don’t necessarily want to work in the same way as men, such as thinking it’s good to be promoted. There is now an effort to change the way people work, working efficiently within a given time rather than late at night, so that women’s viewpoints can be reflected in a way they haven’t been in the past," she said.
Bloomberg View's Michael Schuman argues that Trump's proposed economic policies, including intensive government management of private businesses, risks pushing the United States into a version of Japan's lost decades.
Factory workers should be cheering. Donald Trump, actually living up to a campaign promise, has been badgering corporate America to keep manufacturing jobs at home. On Thursday, Trump announced that Carrier Corp. will maintain about 1,000 jobs in Indiana rather than shift them to Mexico. He has prodded Apple Inc. to build plants at home rather than outsource to China. And he has taken credit (dubiously) for rescuing a Ford Motor Co. factory in Kentucky.
Many of you are probably saying: Hey, why haven't we done this sort of thing all along? Finally, we've got a tough guy in the White House who can stop those fat cats from moving our jobs overseas!
The problem is that Trump's bullying will undermine the rule of law -- and ultimately prove detrimental to the U.S. economy. We know this because he's far from the first government official to try such meddling. In Japan, bureaucrats were once famous for it. And the results there should serve as a warning.
During Japan's high-growth decades, its bureaucrats interfered in the economy in ways big and small. One of their favorite methods was to issue missives known as "administrative guidance." Such directives usually had no force of law, and they weren't proper regulations. The bureaucrats were trying to control business decisions in areas where they lacked formal authority. Companies very often abided by this guidance anyway, however, because if they didn't, they knew the bureaucrats could find some way of punishing them -- for instance, by blocking necessary raw materials or withholding a critical permit.
Japan's bureaucrats believed, much as Trump seems to now, that their actions protected the greater interests of the nation by controlling the self-serving motivations of individual firms. And when Japan was booming, they won kudos from analysts who saw their economic stewardship as a key factor in the country's success. Some even advocated that the U.S. emulate their state economic management to become more competitive.
But administrative guidance soon became part of a wider system of government interference that ultimately proved Japan's undoing. In effect, the practice created two sets of books -- one official, one unofficial. Since the latter was informal, firms had no real recourse to challenge it. That allowed bureaucrats to wield ever more influence. They sometimes employed their guidance to circumvent market forces -- for instance, to form production cartels or impede foreign companies, which limited competition and protected weak firms. Even consumers complained that the web spun by the bureaucracy was hiking the cost of living to exorbitant levels.
- blogTO shares photos of Toronto streets in the 1960s, cluttered by signage.
- Crooked Timber and the LRB Blog respond to the death of Fidel Castro.
- Far Outliers looks at the exploitative but functional British treatment of servants.
- Language Hat notes the insensitivity of machine translation and examines the evolution of the Spanish language.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money advocates for an energized public response to racist displays in Trump's America.
- The Map Room Blog looks at a controversial Brexit art exhibition.
- Marginal Revolution notes a pay by the minute coffee shop in Brooklyn.
- The NYRB Daily shares images of Hokusai.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares beautiful space photos.
- Window on Eurasia notes how terror famines were used to russify peripheral areas of the Soviet Union, reports on strengthening religion among younger Daghestanis, and suggests there will be larger Russian deployments in Belarus.
Russia Beyond the Headlines' Gleb Fedorov notes that Russia remains strongly opposed to any talk of shared sovereignty with Japan over any of the Kuril islands.
Valery Kistanov, Japan expert from the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Science, believes that the Nikkei article “was a deliberate leak” to test Russia’s reaction to this idea.
”Nikkei, a mouthpiece of Japan's business lobby, would not publish an article based on rumors,” Kistanov said. “I do not rule out the fact that this idea may have been discussed behind closed doors."
Dmitry Streltsov, an expert in Japan studies from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), says the leak “may be aimed at publicly creating an illusion of the possibility of ‘jointly governed territories,’ which could be seen as a step forward for Japan.”
Former Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Panov, who is believed to have a certain degree of influence on Russia's foreign policy towards Japan told RBTH, that Moscow and Tokyo seem to have agreed to resolve the dispute in a step-by-step manner.
"Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga claimed that this (joint administration) was not part of a plan that Tokyo conveyed to Moscow,” Panov told RBTH. “What exactly was conveyed is not known.”
- The Boston Globe's Big Picture shares photos of Massachusetts' Mattapan trolley.
- Centauri Dreams looks at Planet Nine's effects and examines the weather of Titan.
- Both The Dragon's Tales and the Planetary Society Weblog react to the loss of the Schiaparelli lander.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks for brown dwarf exoplanets.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the sheer scale of the Australian real estate boom.
- Window on Eurasia notes the beginning of an antiwar movement among Russian Orthodox faithful.
- Arnold Zwicky shares a photo of a flowering tree in a Kyoto garden.
The Daily Herald carried Ana Swanson's Washington Post article looking at the economics of immigrant food in the United States. I'm sure similar phenomena apply in Canada.
Eric Zhou grew up in China's Fujian province watching his father, an accomplished chef, whip up banquets of intricate Chinese dishes. But when Zhou moved to the United States and started working in a Chinese restaurant, he saw that his native cuisine was mostly considered cheap in this country, confined to greasy takeout counters and $7.95 lunch buffets.
So Zhou edged his way into a much more lucrative industry: Japanese food. Years later, he owns four Japanese and Asian fusion restaurants in the Washington area. With Chinese food, he says, "the price in America is too low. Japanese restaurants don't have this problem. To us, it's more suitable. It's a better life."
Zhou, 44, has joined thousands of other Chinese immigrants in the United States in seeking a leg up the economic ladder through Japanese food. From Ames, Iowa, to Lancaster, Pa., Chinese Americans have opened many of the sushi joints that dot suburban malls and city blocks across the country. It's the result of what experts describe as a striking convergence between U.S. ethnic-food preferences and the economic pressures facing a new wave of Chinese immigrants, whose population in the United States has tripled in the past 25 years.
Which cuisines sell well and which do not may seem a combination of chance and cultural tastes. But the outsize role of Chinese Americans in the Japanese food business, according to academics who have studied it, sheds light on deeper forces. The influx of low-wage Chinese immigrants -- China recently eclipsed Mexico as the largest source of immigrants to the United States -- has created fierce competition to provide cheap food. At the same time, Japan's wealth and economic success helped its cuisine gain a reputation as trendy and refined. So for many entrepreneurial Chinese immigrants looking to get ahead, Japanese food has often become the better opportunity.
"Chinese entrepreneurs have figured out that this is a way to make a slightly better living and get out of the ... world of $10, $5 food at the bottom end of the market," says Krishnendu Ray, who leads New York University's food studies program.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the process of journalism.
- Crooked Timber features a confusing critique of Clinton from the left.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the presence of Roman coins and at least one Persian mathematician in ancient Japan.
- Joe. My. God. notes that the Republican Party has halted preparation for a Trump victory.
- Language Hat reports on a poetic new classification system for the history of English.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on one improbable defender of Trump.
- The New APPS Blog studies North Carolina as a subject for an academic boycott.
- Torontoist reviews the Nuit Blanche just past.
- Window on Eurasia argues that the West is weak in relationship to Russia.
Bloomberg's Chikako Mogi and Yuki Hagiwara describe how the Hokkaido coal town of Yubari is trying to downside.
A sleepy, former coal-mining town in northern Japan is taking unprecedented measures to combat its biggest challenge: a devastating shrinking of its population. Its success could decide the future for hundreds of other local governments waging the same battle for survival.
Since its peak in the post-war economic boom of the 1960s, the population of Yubari, a little more than an hour’s drive east of Sapporo on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, has declined by more than 90 percent to just 9,000 as older residents died and young people moved away to bigger cities. Ten years ago, it became Japan’s first municipality to declare bankruptcy.
To keep from becoming a so-called ghost town—when a city ceases to function due to a precipitous decline in population and is ultimately abandoned—Yubari embarked on a drastic experiment. City officials began merging schools, slashing government jobs and salaries, halting funds for public swimming pools, toilets and parks, curtailing services such as bus routes and snow removal, and downgrading the local hospital to a clinic. The most drastic measure has been the forced relocation of hundreds of residents from public housing on the city’s outskirts to blocks of new, low-rise apartments closer to the city center.
“Yubari can potentially lead the example of a real-time compact city,” said Yoshio Kurihara, senior researcher at Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute in Tokyo, who called Yubari’s experiment an “extremely important” model for Japan. “Successful results from the city’s trial can be applied on a nationwide scale.”