Do U BYOD?

When our students and teachers returned to school, they may have been thinking about the changes ahead for the spring term of the school year. One of the big changes on the minds of many in education, and one that is likely to weigh on public school teachers’ is the concept of BYOD, or bring your own device.… [Read more]

In the Shadow of China’s Growing Cities: Farmers Resort to Self-Immolation

Throughout rural China, controversial land acquisitions have been taking place since 2009, often without consent of or compensation to the local residents. In an effort to continually expand China’s growing cities, the Party has been forcibly acquiring land in the surrounding rural areas. Here we would call this eminent domain, and most of the victims of this process are pretty angry, but China has allowed things to go to a whole new level.… [Read more]

Congress: You Should Have Seen This One Coming

Congress: you should have seen this one coming.

I know you’re busy congratulating yourselves for hauling yourselves out of a self-created mess that was the government shutdown, but in that time did you stop to think about the implications of your pointless turf war? Others around the world certainly have.

How embarrassed would you be, Congress, to find that while you’ve been in your filthy trenches China has provocatively suggested that our time as a leading nation is waning?… [Read more]

Is This Disneyland, Or Am I In Prison?

No country has more faith in the power of an adorable mascot than Japan. Their talisman-like powers have been employed in almost every walk of life: museums, theme parks, tourist attractions, festivals, and even whole cities. What is it about these mascots that make it appropriate for them to be as superfluous in a society as dedicated to serious work as Japan?… [Read more]

Thoughts On Caroline Kennedy’s Nomination As Ambassador To Japan

The government shutdown this week has been a disappointing result of an ongoing stalemate over Obamacare, a fight the Tea Party is bound to lose. The shutdown may be the one thing Congress actually achieves this term that any of us will notice. Just prior to shuttering our public institutions, however, the Senate was able to work through one thing successfully.… [Read more]

Government In the Examining Room: The Conservative Paradox

It’s almost October 1st, and you know what that means: Obamacare is almost officially in action. The conservatives are very upset about the legislation actually making it out into the real world, despite their many, many efforts to stop it in its tracks. What is it that they’re so scared of? Is it the free preventative care, no lifetime limits on insurance coverage, or the removal of the last vestiges of the pre-exisiting conditions clause?… [Read more]

There She Is…Miss (Indian) America…

Oh, how the pageant world has changed. Pageants now span all ages, education and socio-economic levels, with everything from Toddlers & Tiaras to our country’s most renowned pageant, Miss America, representing the genre. Yet the one barrier we have consistent trouble overcoming in this arena is the race boundary. Isn’t it amazing that we as a nation can welcome into our homes a beauty queen as unrepentantly ridiculous as Honey Boo-Boo, but a great number of us shudder at the thought of one Nina Davuluri being crowned Miss America.… [Read more]

A Beacon of Hope For Japanese Nationalists

In a publicity stunt so ridiculous it could have been cooked up by Glenn Beck, former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has suggested that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe build a lighthouse on the disputed Pinnacle Islands. This move, he claims, would help break the political stalemate that Japan and China have been sitting in for the last year, thereby improving the situation, somehow.… [Read more]

Allies Across the Pacific? Japan’s Reaction To the Syria Issue

We’ll see what they’re shaking on next week.

All of us are on edge right now as we wait to hear from Congress on the prospect of a US move against Syria. The rest of the world is feeling pretty pensive, too; take for example everything we’ve been hearing about Russia and Iran’s stance on the matter.… [Read more]

One Step Forward For Mental Health, We Hope

Almost as soon as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed in to law a ban on gay to straight conversion therapy for children under the age of 18 in his state, the conservative lobbyists flew in to action. Spearheading the movement behind their unfounded complaints is a group known as Liberty Counsel. This organization has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Camden, N.J.… [Read more]

Crises In Comparison: Deepwater Horizon and Fukushima Daiichi

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the parent company of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, admitted this week that they have been unable to halt the damage done to the plant by the disaster in 2011 and are currently unable to control the leakage of contaminated waste water into the ocean. The announcement comes after more than two years of denial and inept handling of the disaster and the necessary recovery and repair that should have followed.… [Read more]

Wrangling the Crazy: The “Clowns” Within Our Political System

Last Saturday at the Missouri State Fair—a state funded, family-oriented, purportedly non-political event—an unexpected guest was invited into the rodeo rink. Once the grounds had been cleared, the announcer, then-Cowboy Association President Mark Ficken, introduced “President Obama:” a rodeo clown wearing a mask of his likeness, parading around like a living parody.

Mr. Ficken went on to taunt the city slicker “President” with these words:

“We’re gonna stomp Obama now…as soon as their bull comes out, Obama don’t you move.… [Read more]

“Barefoot Gen” Stomps His Way Into the Present Day

Just in time for the 68th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Choubunsha Publishing Company has released a new and updated version of “Barefoot Gen”, a bilingual edition of the graphic novel that will now be told in both Japanese and English. This highly acclaimed manga was written and illustrated by A-bomb survivor Keiji Nakazawa.… [Read more]

An Uncomfortable Occasion For Glendale, California

In a park in Glendale, CA, a new memorial statue was unveiled this week. The park is in a largely Asian and Asian-American neighborhood and will feature the image of a young Korean girl dressed in traditional clothing. The problem? This girl is a “comfort woman.”

Because they had a choice?

The issue of comfort women (as they are commonly referred to by historians) dates back to pre-WWII times and is still hotly contested today, more vocally than at any other time previously.… [Read more]

Racism: No Longer an American-Made Product

While visiting my friend today, I was witness to an unpleasant situation that had been unfolding before her for hours prior to my arrival. This friend works on the social media end of an international corporation. This company is associated with a celebrity who has an opinion on the verdict of the Martin/Zimmerman trial. The opinion as I read it wasn’t explicitly violent or incendiary, however because it appeared on the internet a veritable shit-storm quickly arose.… [Read more]

Lighting the Way: Summer Festival of the Dead in Japan

Japan has been getting a lot of attention lately for its “suicide culture” recently, a phenomenon brought into the spotlight by Larissa MacFarquhar in her new article in The New Yorker. But suicide isn’t all there is to the Japanese understanding of death and the dead. A much more lighthearted example would be the Obon Festival.… [Read more]

Updates On Fukushima: Holding TEPCO and the Diet Accountable

We have yet another problem arising from Fukushima Daiichi, threatening to make a bad situation even worse. In June a new leak was discovered under Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor #1, and as usual TEPCO has decided to downplay the serious nature of this incident. As they have many times before, TEPCO is trying to muffle the sound of a dangerous situation with good PR.… [Read more]

Waiting With Bated Breath: The Supreme Court’s Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8

SCOTUS has had the opportunity this session to make a big impact on the face of American politics with three big cases: Fisher v. University of Texas, United States v. Windsor, and Hollingsworth v. Perry. As of this morning, we have one down, two to go, and are being faced with a real disappointment.

In the first case, Fisher v.… [Read more]

Tears of Rebellion

With the unabated acceleration of the Arab Spring beginning in late 2010, law enforcement agencies found themselves ill-equipped to deal with the masses of protesters that would soon emerge. In many of the countries where these protests erupted, namely Libya, Yemen, and Syria, this kind of political activity was hardly welcome. Being unprepared for a mass political movement of this magnitude, governments and their law enforcement agencies resorted almost immediately to violent methods of control.… [Read more]

Stormy Seas On California’s Coast

California is playing host to two of our most important partners in Asia: Japan and China. On Tuesday, troops from Japan’s Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) arrived for amphibious training exercises with the US Marines off the coast of San Diego. Last Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at Rancho Mirage to meet with President Obama about national security issues relevant to both countries.… [Read more]