土曜日, 10月 25, 2008

Election day tomorrow

Tomorrow the fantastically exciting local elections in Finland draw to a close. I'm totally finished after several weeks of campaigning for Maija, and still I feel I could have done much, much more.

Tomorrow's schedule is also quite hectic; it will be a loong day before I can join all those crazy party people to hopefully celebrate our biggest win yet. The National Coalition Party has never managed to take the #1 spot in local elections, but we're closer to a win than ever.
But before celebrating a win, I must get up at 7, go to the polling station and get things ready before it opens. Then I apparently sit there and seal peoples' votes and see that everything goes according to law. The post-election party starts at 10 pm, but before I'll get there I'll have to stay behind counting votes until about 10.30 pm. Only then, if I have any energy left, may I join the party (and probably fall asleep in my pint).

It's been fun, and next time we'll do it so much better.

木曜日, 6月 12, 2008


I'm back in Helsinki.

木曜日, 8月 23, 2007

水曜日, 8月 15, 2007

Back in the office on 1.9.2007.
I'm starting a new job here in Helsinki soon, and although I won't be able to blog about the job directly, it'll help me get this blog back on the track, i.e the East Asian track, which it veered off some time ago.

火曜日, 7月 03, 2007

A fair and balanced interview

Phil Donahue must be one of the very few interviewees entering the O'Reilly Zone who doesn't get thrown out of the studio/whose mic isn't mysteriously cut off in the middle of the interview for disagreeing with Billo over the Iraq war. Watch, if just to see the look on Phil's face at the end of the interview... is that contempt mixed with disbelief I detect in your eyes, Phil Donahue?

Here's the infamous Jeremy Glick interview (with commentary) from the documentary 'Outfoxed':

月曜日, 6月 25, 2007

From David Cameron

I got an email from David Cameron a few days ago. (No, not a personal one; I've just signed on for the group postings). He's now polishing his policies in order to take on Brown in the next few weeks. Is it just me, or is Cameron saying nothing in his keynote speech (in full below)? Why do I still not, 18 months on, have a clear picture of his policies for a possible Conservative government ? Before you can get into government you have to imagine already being there. Cameron is way too stuck in an opposition mindset - it's easy to criticize the government for their policies and dream up alternative policies. (I'll get back to this tomorrow)

Here's his speech:

Very soon, the real battle in British politics will begin.

Tony’s going, and the phoney war will be over.

The British people will have a clear choice.

A choice between two different visions of society.

A choice between two different approaches to running the country.

And a choice between the old and the new politics.

Us against Gordon Brown.

That’s the choice at the next election, and today I want to spell out exactly what it means.

At our party conference last year I said that getting ready for the responsibility of government is like building a house together.

First you prepare the ground.

Then you lay the foundations.

And then, brick by brick, you build your house.

That is the plan I laid out when I became leader of this Party and that is exactly the plan we’ve been following.

We started by preparing the ground.

We stopped fooling ourselves that we played the same old tunes we’d somehow get a different result.

We remembered the importance of rebuilding that broad Conservative coalition without which we’ve never won in the past.

And we moved this Party back to the ground on which our success has always been built, the centre ground of British politics.

That meant addressing the issues that matter to people today...

…so we became the party of the environment and well-being as well as the nation state.

It meant understanding the real priorities of people today…

…so we put economic stability before up-front tax cuts.

And, vitally, it meant standing up for all of the people all of the time, not just some of the people some of the time…

…so we pledged to improve public services for everyone, not give opt-outs to a chosen few.

Today we’re back in the mainstream of political debate, we’re setting the agenda, we’re winning the arguments - and we’re winning elections.

Nine hundred more councillors this year.

Breaking through in the north of England.

A forty per cent Party once again.

Our party is once again a force that can change our country.

The second stage in building our house was laying the foundations.

As I said at our conference last year, that’s not about detailed policies.

It’s about the idea on which all our policies will be built.

Policies without intellectual foundations don’t stand the test of time.

We’ve had ten years of short-term initiatives announced to get headlines in the papers.

People have had enough of Labour’s fast-food politics: they want something more serious and more substantial.

That’s why we’ve spent the last few months setting out, patiently and consistently, the big idea on which we’ll build our plan for government.

That idea is social responsibility.

It’s the idea that there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.

Social responsibility means that every time we see a problem, we don’t just ask what government can do.

We ask what people can do, what society can do.

That’s the big difference between us and Gordon Brown.

His answer to crime, his answer to education, his answer to everything - is a top-down government scheme.

Whatever the issue, whatever the challenge, whatever the circumstances… it’s always the same.

Under Gordon Brown all we’ll get is “he knows best” politics, as he sits as his desk expecting a grateful nation to wait with bated breath for the latest master-plan to emerge.

He won’t even commit to giving the British people a say over the EU constitution.

I profoundly believe that it’s wrong to change the way in which we are governed without giving people the right to say “yes” or “no”.

Gordon, the top-down days are over.

It’s the twenty-first century.

It’s the age of “people know best.”

Parents know best what works for their kids.

Doctors and nurses know best how to improve the NHS and give patients great healthcare.

Residents know best how to make their neighbourhoods better places to live.

We’re living in an age where people want to control their government, not have their government control them.

Every day in countless ways, people are getting together to work out new solutions to old problems.

They’re getting together online, in community groups, in their workplaces, as friends and neighbours and collaborators.

They want and need a government that’s on their side, that trusts them, that positively wants to put power and control in their hands.

That’s the big difference between us and Gordon Brown.

We get the modern world, he doesn’t.

We trust people, he’s suspicious of them.

We believe in social responsibility, he believes in state control.

So we’ve prepared the ground by moving to the centre.

We’ve laid the foundations with our big idea, social responsibility.

And now, with our Policy Groups set to publish their reports, we can move forward to the next stage – showing what we will build for Britain.
This is my vision.

A Britain that combines collective security with individual opportunity.

A Britain that achieves these things through social responsibility, not state control.

And a Britain where a strong society gives everyone the chance to shape their own life, making the most of all that this amazing country, in this amazing century, has to offer.

Our Society. Your Life.

Collective security and individual opportunity.

That’s the combination that’s right for our times and right for the future.

And it’s a combination that only we in this Party can offer.

First, because we understand that social responsibility, not state control, is the best way to provide security and opportunity.

And second because we understand the deep and important connection between them.

This Party has always understood the importance of security, including a strong role for the state where it has a duty to protect its citizens.

Social responsibility means a strong society where possible; a strong state where necessary.

Today we need strong defences to protect our country - from threats old and new.

That’s why we’re committed to setting up a national border police, with Lord Stevens leading a task force to produce a plan for making it happen.

In the months ahead, our Security Policy Group, led by Pauline Neville-Jones and Tom King, will publish their recommendations.

They will advise us on the steps we must take to protect our country from terrorism, and from the new risks of an increasingly unstable world.

We also understand the need for a strong response to the everyday threat to people’s security that comes from crime and anti-social behaviour.

I believe that Tony Blair’s pledge to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime is his biggest broken promise.

Being tough on crime is not about soundbites and headlines.

It’s about serious long-term thinking: analysing what’s gone wrong with our criminal justice system, and developing serious plans to put it right.

That’s why I’ve placed such emphasis on the need for police reform.

David Davis and his team have produced a detailed and impressive set of proposals.

We’re working on them with the police, trusting in their professionalism…

…asking them to make the changes that are necessary in return for tearing up the pointless targets and paperwork and giving them the freedom to do the job they desperately want to do.

Security is vital in the economy too.

Conservatives instinctively understand the importance of sound money and sensible economic management.

That’s why it is the absolute expression of our traditions, not the denial of them, when we say that we will put economic stability first.

And that’s why we feel so strongly about the way Gordon Brown has wrecked our pensions system, destroying millions of people’s economic security without a word of apology or remorse.

But our collective security is not just about the economy, or crime, or terrorism.

It is also about the fabric of our society. About wanting people to feel a real sense of belonging.

We believe in building a cohesive society, where Britishness means inspiring people with a love of country…

…not bullying them with instructions to integrate, or insulting them with cheap ‘flags-on-the-lawn’ gimmicks.

And above all, our collective security is about the one institution in our society which matters to me more than any other.

That is the family.

Why do I focus on the family?

Why am I so proud of the magnificent work that Iain Duncan Smith is leading in our Social Justice Policy Group, with his final report soon to be published?

Because I believe, as I said in my speech to our Spring Forum in [March], that the greatest challenge this country faces today is reversing the social breakdown we see all around us.

And strengthening families is the best way to do it.

Let’s be clear about this.

It is simply no use talking about opportunity for all unless we give every child in our country the secure start in life that comes from a stable, loving home.

We are far from that position in Britain today, and turning it around will be the greatest challenge – and I hope the greatest achievement – of the next Conservative government.

That’s because ensuring our collective security – whether protecting people from physical harm, providing economic stability, or giving children emotional stability - is not just an end in itself.

It is about creating the platform for the great driving force of Conservatism through the ages – the promotion of individual opportunity.

But I will not allow this Party, or this country, to overlook the connection between security and opportunity.

Only by meeting our collective obligations to each other, and building a strong society, will we create the conditions for every individual to enjoy real opportunity.

Our Society. Your Life.

And what a life it can be if we enable people to make the most of the modern world.

I suppose every generation thinks their time is the most exciting there’s been.

But truly, no generation has ever faced such an extraordinary range of possibilities as we do today.

Of course we can look at the future negatively – the threats of new weapons, of new and dangerous ideologies; the looming catastrophe of climate change; the fracturing of traditional communities and the growing sense of atomisation.

But I am a determined optimist.

I want us to look at the future positively.

Every year we get closer to curing the great diseases.

There are technologies that will give us the energy to power the world without wrecking the planet.

We have communications which overcome every obstacle not just of distance but of culture – making one world.

We see the potential of the future in places like South Korea.

Britain took four hundred years to move from an agricultural to a high-tech economy –
Korea has done it in just forty.

There’s no reason why similar miracles can’t happen elsewhere in Asia – and in Africa.

Peter Lilley’s Policy Group on Globalisation and Global Poverty will have many recommendations for what needs to be done to make that a reality.

The task for this Party is to match our determination to build a strong and secure society with a policy programme that extends opportunity ever more widely…

…with no-one excluded from the possibilities of the modern world.

Here’s how we’ll go about it.

If we in Britain want to be in the fast lane of global progress, we need to improve our own dynamism, our own competitiveness.

That’s the thinking behind Michael Heseltine’s radical proposals for devolving power from Whitehall, so our great cities can get the strong leadership they need to compete on the world stage.

In our economy, we must lead the world in innovation, and stimulate the creation of new businesses and new jobs.

That’s the thinking behind the work of John Redwood’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Group.

But above all, extending opportunity means liberating the potential of our young people, with world-class education at every level.

That’s why we’re developing a robust and radical plan for reforming state schools, addressing both standards and structures.

Bringing rigour to the curriculum and testing.

More setting and streaming, with a ‘grammar stream’ in every subject in every school, so bright pupils are stretched and all pupils are taught at the right level.

Tackling disruptive behaviour by giving head teachers control over discipline.

And making it easier to set up new schools so we get genuine diversity and parents have a real choice.

Stephen Dorrell and Pauline Perry will show in their Public Services report how in schools, just as in the NHS…

…we will replace Labour’s culture of top-down targets and centralisation…

…with a relationship of trust and accountability between those who use public services and the professionals who provide them.

Last week we unveiled proposals to transform young people’s skills…

… not trusting in the bureaucracy of the Learning and Skills Council, but with new professional apprenticeships that engage employers and match the future needs of the economy.

Next week David Davis will launch a taskforce to examine the recent fall in social mobility – and find ways to reverse it.

For us, expanding opportunity means not the backward-looking plans of Labour’s Deputy Leadership candidates - who only see a future for more state-owned and run housing - but helping young people onto the housing ladder through a massive extension of shared ownership and the right to buy.

Expanding opportunity means not leaving up to thirty per cent of men in some of our towns and cities languishing on Incapacity Benefit, as has happened under Labour …

… but our plans to harness the expertise of the voluntary sector in helping people off welfare and into work.

And expanding opportunity means not wasting the proceeds of growth as Gordon Brown has done, but sharing the proceeds of economic growth between better public services and lower taxes.

In all these ways, we will show how we are the Party with the new ideas - the serious ideas - to expand individual opportunity in our country.

And we will show we understand that individual opportunity is not something that can or should be defined by politicians in Westminster.

Your life is just that – yours, not mine.

For many people today, opportunity is not just about more money, it’s about more time with the kids.

It’s about the journey to work, the food the family eats, the state of the neighbourhood.

This is the new politics, a world away from the preoccupations of old Westminster and the political elite.

We’re making this new politics our own, just as we’re setting the agenda on the environment and climate change.

And soon the report of our Quality of Life Policy Group will make another significant contribution to that whole debate.

Right across the range of issues, our policy debate is about to start in earnest.

We will soon be launching Stand Up, Speak Up – a chance for everyone in this country to get involved in shaping the next Conservative manifesto.

We hear a lot about political apathy these days.

Well I want all of you here and all our Conservative friends around the country to stand up and lead the way in getting people involved in a massive grass-roots debate on the future of our country.

Let’s show the cynics some energy, not apathy.

So as we start this great policy debate, we can be clear about the shape of the house we’re building.

It’s designed to deliver collective security, as the platform for individual opportunity.

Security for our society; opportunity in your life.

Not copying New Labour, but learning from its mistakes.

Not abandoning Conservative principles, but applying them in new ways to new challenges.

And in the process making this Party the true force for progressive politics in Britain today.

Our foundations are strong, while Gordon Brown’s are shaky.

Our vision is built on the truth that no politician, no bureaucrat, no government official, can ever achieve as much as a strong society working together.

Social responsibility, not state control.

That’s what we believe, and that’s why we’ll win.

Remind me. Poor Leno. (Röyksopp)

木曜日, 6月 14, 2007


Name all European countries in 5 minutes

"You forgot: Spain, Croatia, Macedonia, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Cyprus, Malta"

I forgot nine countries out of 49. That's a little embarrassing, and I spent waay too much time on trying to remember the Balkan countries and therefore ran out of time. But: I forgot Spain?? I didn't get Azerbaijan because I tried to spell it with a 'd' (and therefore decided that perhaps it wasn't in Europe after all), but to forget Spain is chottoo...

水曜日, 6月 06, 2007

Kansei the (creepy) anti-Bush robotic head.

Jun. 5 - Robots may not be able to feel emotions but Japanese scientists have created one which they say expresses them.
The newest Japanese humanoid robot, named ''Kansei'', frowns when he hears the word ''bomb'' and a smile lights up his face when he hears the word ''sushi''.
The robot created by a Japanese university research team can make up to 36 different facial expressions stemming from English words such as happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear and surprise-- and any combinations of these emotions
. (

When I was still a student I often came across dismissive opinions on Japanese research into robotics. The arguments against the true usefulness of Aibo or ASIMO were usually, and quite quriously, linked to a generally dismissive attitude against Japan, claiming that robotic pooches or walking, talking 'living dolls' were not only nonsense but representative of the stagnation of the Japanese economy and politics at large. In general terms, the development of such products were seen as spending money on entertainment gadgets just to keep the economy going but producing nothing of 'real' use. I could just about agree to such a claim if we were talking about regional pork-barrel politics in Japan, but not when it comes to robotic technology.

I only have a mediocre imagination and I am not a scientist, but using what little I have I can still imagine applications for the technological developments that these Japanese 'gadgets' can bring not least when developing aides for disabled people ('wheel'chairs with legs? Inserting micro chips and 'nerves' into paralyzed muscles that then react to your thoughts? Fake faces for burn victims, like in face/off? Artificial eyes?).
Why are the products of fairly early research into robotics dismissed on the grounds that they are also gadgets?
Many see Aibo the pooch as the final product ready for the consumer market. Yes, it is marketed as entertainment technology, but it is maybe less well understood that the research and development involved might have a multitude of applications, and the Japanese research into robotics might have, at some point, a real impact on how we live our lives. Not now, and not in the form of the ASIMO we know today, but perhaps in the form of ASIMO IV in 2030.
Japanese mass-consumerism might also be seen as gagdet (or trend) driven and therefore a short sighted spending culture, but I would argue that there is plenty of bankable research and creativity behind this phenomenon, and it should not be dismissed as just folly. The Japanese are also very robot friendly, and many look positively at the future use of humanoids and other robots in customer service and health care.

Kansei has, like Kokoro (the humanoid receptionist at the Aichi World Expo of 2005), been modelled to look 'human'. It has also been programmed to react to certain words.
Kansei frowns at the word 'president' simply because the researchers have determined the word to relate to G. W Bush and therefore war. This I find disturbing. It is one thing to develop humanoids (or androids) for the sake of research, but to program political views into their 'brains' is another issue altogether. Not that Kansei actually thinks. He is a prototype of a robot that might be able to mimic humans fairly realistically in the future, although not in the foreseeable one (watch the video for its reactions to the word 'love' and you'll see what I mean).
Similarly, Kokoro was programmed to say 'I'm sorry, I was thinking of Kyoshi' and raise 'her' hand to her mouth (mimicking girlish behaviour) whenever she did not understand what was being said to her. This was the default status for a 'female' humanoid. Empty can, worms everywhere.
I honestly believe that there will be pretty well-functioning and independent humanoids living in our midst in about 50 years time, if not sooner. But who will build them, and who will decide on their politics? As a lawyer I am also relatively interested in how humanoids will be treated under law, and it's not too early to start discussing these ethical norms now. (to be continued: got an exam tomorrow...)

Asimov's Laws of Robotics (from Wikipedia)
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro with his humanoid replica Geminoid

火曜日, 6月 05, 2007

Book review from Japan Forum.

I was asked to post this as a curiosity from 2006. It is one of the worst book reviews I have ever read about an academic book and continues the prize fight between David Williams and Harry Harootunian. Williams is a former teacher of mine and I do remain sympathetic to his views (in addition to being pretty ace in the classroom, he opened my eyes to the politics of studying Japan, and he's an entertaining character at the very least), but he streches his arguments so far (too far) as to render them almost meaningless, and thus open them to easy attack by those who fundamentally disagree with his standpoint.
Stylewise, he reads like an American prosaist: A talented user of language, no doubt, but at times about as subtle as a bullfight, and on the wordy side including digressions. To some extent he thus exposes his personality to attacks by being more of a journalistic writer than a strictly academic one. Less would really be more, but I still resent Harootunian's complete failure to see anything good in it, and he actually uses inverted commas when describing Williams' work, calling it a 'book' rather than book. There's not much love lost between these two writers, but that's just plain mean.


Returning to Japan: part two


David Williams, Defending Japan’s PacificWar: The Kyoto School Philosophers and Post-White Power. RoutledgeCurzon, London, 2004. xxvi + 238pp.

One of the problems facing practitioners of the art of historical revision is the inability
to recognize that historical writing is always a revision and a rewriting. What
this means is that the effort to set out deliberately to produce an historical revision
invariably risks falling into the same trap historians inevitably trip into, which is
the unbridgeable contradiction between the facts that presumably constitute the
rawmaterial of any historical account, since they do not write themselves a history,
and the linguistic descriptions, interpretations that are employed to mediate the
facticity into a coherent account. In this sense, all historical writing is inevitably a
rewriting that always marks a rift between the events and facts constitutive of any
history and whatever is subsequently said about them when this history is formed.

It is this rift that is thematicized in countless ways by historians and explains why
history can be rewritten and ultimately why writing history is invariably a rewriting,
regardless of intentionality. But when the act explicitly announces its desire
to be a revision, the chances are high that it will exceed its quest and become
nothing more than a parody of a parody. The rift is never surmounted and the
contradiction between word and deed never overcome. But the effect of this failed
mission is to call attention to a space of contention which the revision has tried
to close by appealing to a superior knowledge promising to rid ‘reconstruction’ of
subjective will, political partiality and personal bias. Revisionism is always about
failed repetition and the repetition of failure. A fool’s errand, if there ever was
one, the route to revision is possible only if the logic is inverted to enable a concentration
on the form of history itself rather than on its content, and that might
be called the revision of history in order to distinguish it from the mere garden
variety of historical revision. Yet it is precisely the refusal to make this move that
persuades historical revisionists to depend on techniques like hermeneutics and its
claim to secure authentic identification with both enunciator and the enounced,
in the effort to occupy the sensibilities of others in different times and places.
The category of revision thus functions to ratify the claims of a superior historical
knowledge (already based on a prior representation) as ‘objective’ and
free from the mediations of subjective will and the rumor of political partiality.

If it is difficult to exaggerate the role played by this desire to expunge political
bias and partisanship from the act of a putative ‘reconstruction’ in the name of
greater clarity and truth, it is even harder to separate theological zeal from purposeful
historical revision, which takes the form of a self-righteous promise to
embark upon a crusading mission dedicated to setting the record straight before
it is too late. However, setting the record straight is often indistinguishable from
settling scores. At the same time that revision is busied with the task of screening
unwanted political motivations, it must be deployed accusatively to underscore
the correct reading of a text and/or an interpretation in the name of the higher
truth, employing whatever devices are at hand to do the job. This practice invariably
involves appeals to greater empirical authority, the imbecilities of relying on
the ‘transparency’ of translation to substitute for the absence of having anything
worthwhile to say to reinforce the worst of empirical certainties that the facts and
texts speak for themselves and, finally, citational strategies that rival Senator Joe
McCarthy’s rampage to ferret out commies and queers (usually the same in his
thinking). But this operation never fails to betray its own politically driven agenda.
Above all else, willful historical revision rarely possesses the capacity to constrain
its own impulse ‘merely’ to correct, and thus risks exceeding itself to become an
undisciplined and errant mission devoted to destroying the enemy. Its tactic resembles
more the excesses of slash and burn and Agent Orange than the ‘demands
of scholarship’.

The irony of this uncontrolled effect dramatizes the importance of personal
motivation lurking in the shadowed recesses of revisionism and, worse, a desire
never satisfied at the heart of such an impulse, which manage to tell readers more
than they need or want to know about the author. Hence, it is possible to say that
the gesture behind revisionism, powered by a potent but ambiguously dangerous
mix of desire (psychological resentment) and political certitude masquerading
as objective truth (political resentment), overdetermines a result which will call
attention not to the pragmatic conception of the task of historiographical practice,
which is to ‘reconstruct’ the past and correct it, but rather to tediously dreary
personal aspirations that have nothing to do with the ‘demands of scholarship’.
In its worst forms, we can observe the toxic effects of excessive revisionism in the
call to rewrite textbooks in contemporary Japan and Holocaust denial promoted
by ‘historians’ like Robert Faurisson.

David Williams’ Defending Japan’s Pacific War: The Kyoto School of Philosophers
and Post-White Power
is a reminder of the crucial and not always acknowledged
boundary separating historical revision and the revision of history and how easily
practitioners of the former end up exceeding the revisionist project itself to skid
off the runway, so to speak. Williams, it should be stated, is an apparent admirer of
Ernst Nolte and recalls his theory of ‘deep revisionism’, which has already alerted
us to the reappearance of the ‘Yellow Peril’ (in the shape of Soviet Communism)
as the reason prompting Germany’s decision to go to war in 1939. Nolte, it needs
be remembered, introduced the ‘Asiatic deed’ Hitler carried out (extermination)
from fear of being victimized by the ‘Asiaticism’ threatened by the Soviet determination
to eliminate the bourgeoisie. At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking that
Williams’ ‘book’ recalled for me the movie, White Men Can’t Jump, but was not
nearly as funny or instructive. The declared purpose of this ‘book’ is to rectify the
reputation of Kyoto philosophy, to ‘take Kyoto philosophy seriously’, and rescue
Williams’ ‘heroes’ from intellectual ignominy, namely the figure of Tanabe Hajime
from ‘Western bias’ by ‘prob[ing]’ ‘factual’ and ‘interpretational foundations’ that
have led to the desecration. In brief, Williams wishes to restate and resituate in
the foreground the defense Kyoto philosophy provided to Japan’s decision to go to
war in the Pacific. Along the way the reader is rewarded with details of Williams’
‘autobiography’, the record of his struggle to find the truth effaced by a delusional
America in the grips of hooded ‘White power’ and his Pauline conversion to the
revelations of Kyoto philosophy. But he has clearly overstated the case and the
necessity to ‘save’ Kyoto philosophy from its alleged disrepute and produced not
a serious account but a silly one.

Williams has accepted the responsibility of assuming the ‘painful business’ of
deep revisionism because very simply somebody has to do it. And he has assigned
himself no less a project than the defense of Japan’s involvement in the Pacific
War, much like Ernst Nolte, who had already reassured us that the epoch of fascism
was now passed to subsequently recite for us the great sacrifice Germany
had made in defending the West against a new ‘Yellow Peril’. In Nolte’s historicist
view, the singularity of the Third Reich will simply appear in the long
duration as a moment in the history of mankind. (As with the Armenian massacres
Hitler believed were already forgotten, Nolte looks to the day when nobody
will remember Germany’s genocidal war.) In Japan the defense of the war was
already made in Kyoto philosophy with its powerful critique of epistemological
and philosophical imperialism and the colonization of the mind many Japanese
were convinced they were living during the 1930s. Here, there is no disagreement
over the prescience of this particular critique and its smartness in light of
more recent intellectual sensitivities. But, in spite of the acuity of Kyoto philosophic
perception, there is still the lingering problem of the war against Asia and
Asians and Japan’s colonization of much of the region and the way philosophers
like Koyama Iwao, Kosaka Masaaki and Nishitani Keiji sought to give meaning
to the eventfulness of their present. Any reader of the discussions that took
place in Kyoto in 1942 will recognize that, while the cultural critique against
Western historicist and philosophic claims was on the mark, the response to the
war, imperialism and colonization, occasioning the moment to consider Japan’s
world historical mission, masked a genuine indifference and superiority toward
those Asians Japan was supposedly liberating from white man’s domination. It
was precisely this superiority and indifference that sanctioned the violence and
destruction directed against Asians which Kyoto philosophy at the time successfully
managed to displace in abstraction and on which it remained obdurately
silent. I am not referring to the alleged claims that Kyoto philosophers were really
at odds with the war aims of the army (a claim Williams has heavily invested in and
uses to redirect attention away from the war in Asia) but rather the spectacle of a
continuing war of imperialism and colonialism on the Asian continent Japan had
been waging well before 1941. The attempt to show that Kyoto philosophers were
opposed to the war rings with the same kind of intellectual dishonesty that has
prompted historians like Nolte to suggest that Germany was defending Europe
and the West (bourgeois society) against the new Yellow Peril. What this tactic
seeks to accomplish is a finessing of genocidal and colonial violence, either as the
price that must be paid for pursuing such lofty civilizational goals or simply as a
reflection of indifference toward people who have no subjectivity. The effort to
make philosophers like Tanabe into precursors vocalizing some sort of utopian
fantasy of multi-ethnicity deliberately overlooks the context of an imperial and
colonial present that supplied empirical and existential reality to such theorization.
In this regard, the proposals of shu no ronri are as hollow as are those nostalgic
celebrations today which now look upon the older Ottoman, Hapsburg and even
British Empires as paradigmatic prefigurations of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic
political spaces.
Despite Tanabe’s personal fate during the early Occupation, where he went
on to write important essays on the figure of the emperor he opposed and the
status of emperorship which he saw as an expression of mu mediating political
contradictions, Koyama and Kosaka became principal theorists of the Monbusho
(Williams should read the stirring Kitai sareru ningenzo¯ for a post-war updating of
Kyoto philosophy and as an example of the successful survival of his heroes) and
Nishitani re-surfaced as a ‘beloved’ and respected religious ecumenicist known
throughout the world. In this regard, I met Kosaka years ago in Kyoto and was
shocked by the awe accorded him by really well-placed scholars and politicians
who were treating him as if he had been elevated to the status of daimyo¯jin. Not
bad rehabilitation for a bunch of fascists. So what is the purpose of rehabilitating
reputations that needed none? Williams wants to show that Kyoto philosophers,
far from colluding with Japan’s war aims and imperial ambitions, had produced
a perceptive critique of White power ‘before the letter’, and thus persuasively
demonstrated the necessity of now staging a confrontation with it before all of
Asia was incorporated into its devouring machine. Armed with the powers and
responsibility of ‘deep revisionism’, Williams sets out to convince readers of the
rightness of his mission and how ‘unbiased’ he is by resuscitating the ruined
reputation of Tanabe Hajime, especially, and the prefigurative powers of his vision
to overcome ‘whiteness’.

But the problem is that Williams has linked Tanabe’s fate to that of Kyoto philosophers who came out of the war smelling like roses. As far as I know, nobody ever labeled Tanabe as a fascist, not even Tosaka Jun, who wrote endlessly about fascism in the 1930s and who had been one of Tanabe’s principal critics in those years. It is not at all clear from Williams’ account that
Tanabe himself believed he needed resuscitation.
But Williams has larger ambitions. One of these is to call for a ‘paradigmatic
revolution of Japan studies’ by appropriating the insights uncovered by Kyoto philosophy.
(Now there’s a project with world historical significance!) When he is not
wandering over the landscape of twentieth-century philosophy (Lukacs, Heidegger,
Marcuse, Sartre, etc.) in pointless encounters based primarily on secondary
accounts – we really do not need to revisit the Heidegger controversy through
summaries of works that have been long available – what space remains is committed
to denouncing both theWestern bias he has now uncovered and overcome
and obsessive condemnations against charges of fascist complicity among some of
the members of the Kyoto school. (Like Nolte, he wants to banish fascism from
the historical and everyday lexicon.) It occurred to me that, since Williams somewhere
identifies himself with ‘we philosophers’ (just as he also portrays himself
as Marx to somebody’s Engels), his interventions aspire to philosophic authority
and are made to remind us of his membership in the fraternity of philosophers
and thinkers, even though they never rise above the level of unwanted and selfindulgent
Because Williams has already fused Tanabe’s circumstances with Koyama and
Kosaka, who have been accused of fascist tendencies, he is able to dramatize
his case for rectification and re-appropriation. Where this strategy misleads is in
giving the impression that no real differences existed among these thinkers. Yet it is
obvious that Tanabe’s thinking was quite distant from Koyama and Kosaka, not to
forget Nishitani, and there was a significant difference between the ‘cosmopolitan’
program informing shu no ronri and the discussions on Japan’s world historical
mission and its ‘philosophy of total war’. The tactic of throwing them together
actually works against the best interests of poor Tanabe since it binds him to the
most baneful legacy of Kyoto philosophy. What Williams inadvertently unveils is
the absence of any real problem and the labor of a skewed logic busily inventing
what clearly is not there. Perhaps he should also include Joe McCarthy in his
pantheon of heroes.
We know that Williams was able to escape the illusions of his youth (‘Once upon
a time in America’) and free himself finally from the snares of ‘Western bias’ to become
one with Kyoto philosophy. This familiar chant, resonant with hermeneutic
privilege, is accomplished through reading and translation. But this attempt to see
things through the optic of Kyoto philosophers and to close the very distance between
subject and object that had condemned previous interpreters to unrelieved
error and bias never moves beyond the announcement of a declared intention to
‘take it seriously’. It thus rests on the operation of reading/translation, which apparently
needs no further explanation because it instantly presumes transparency
and the realization of authentic understanding through the alchemy of empathy.

The empathetic identification, of course, is already manifested in Williams’ desire
to be one with Kyoto philosophy, and ironically reveals the pathos of the white
boy who can’t jump. The opacity of transparency is immediately flagged, however,
when we see the term so¯ryokusen leap off the page in transmuted (I should say transubstantiated)
form as ‘total resistance’ and when a discussion on why minzoku
should not be translated as ‘race’ ignores its primary association with folk, which
was precisely the way it was employed by thinkers in the 1930s and remained at
the center of Tosaka’s critique of Tanabe’s use of the term as a stand-in for shu
in its mediating capacity. When Williams finally gets around to allowing ‘folk’ to
surface as a possible translation, he warns his reader that the ‘word “Volk” is used
in English-language Allied scholarship in order to browbeat the Germans about
the war’ (p. 160). But this unknowing proclamation explains nothing whatsoever
and makes sense only if it is seen to exemplify Williams’ own proven aptitude
for browbeating, whose utilization is made to substitute for the absence of a convincing
argument, especially when he is able to yoke it to strategic omissions of
widespread usages and practices which will easily undermine his interpretative
house of cards. I need mention only Yanagita Kunio and his followers, who always
used minzoku as ‘folk’ and minzokugaku as ‘folklore’, or fascist sociologists
like Takada Yasuma and Suzuki Eitaro, to name two among many, who grasped
minzokushugi as ‘folkism’ principally because of its powerful association of organic
communalism, not the nation. In the end, the sound and fury of the browbeating
actually exposes the empty political soul of the would-be historical revisionist and
the bankruptcy of his/her claims to set the record straight.

Once Williams has been able to shed the illusions of his youthful socialization
in Amerika and recognize the lies of White power he had been fed, he is ready to
receive the message ofKyoto philosophy, especiallyTanabe’s, and the truth of what
might be called White man’s bluff. The road to self-discovery and self-knowledge,
achieved through a form of ‘working through’, opens the way for Williams to
envisage his grand project of a ‘revolutionary Japan studies’. For Williams the crisis
of the present is already upon us and demands a choice between romanticism and
enlightenment. Somehow this crisis is related to the ‘state of the field’ of Japan
studies today. ‘The high decencies of Enlightenment have triumphed over the
suspect doctrines of the romantic. After Hitler,’ he continues almost mournfully,
‘we are all universalists’ (p. 167). But, since most Japanese have not made this
choice, Japan studies in the West has targeted the ‘Japanese quest for satisfactory
national identity’ (p. 168) with resentment and hostility. The purpose of this
meditation is to remind readers that the goal of Japan studies is not to criticize or
to praise but to understand Japan. But we know that this very advice was already
circulating decades ago as a code for accepting precisely the representations that
the hired hands of Japanese exceptionalism (reincarnated goyo¯gakusha) in and
out of Japan were peddling to dismiss and displace criticism. When he finally
gets to his destination, via a detour through Wounded Knee, Frankfurt, Paris
and Oxford, in a ‘book’ loaded with ceaseless detours of self-contradiction and
incessant posturings,we learn that Japan studies must turn to theKyoto school and
its critique of White power and the ‘White Republic’, and ‘return to Japan’ itself,
like himself, in order to begin the great task of dismantling the regime of White
power and constructing the ‘new post-White order that is the planet’s destiny’
(p. 171). At the heart of this recommendation is the empathetic desire to become
Japanese that signals a repetitious re-enactment in the present of the process of
‘imperialization’ (ko¯minka) Japanese colonial policy deployed to transmute the
identity of subject peoples into imperial subjects. What the Kyoto school provided
was simply the alibi for the installation of Yellow power, which is exactly what
Japanese offered to Asia once they had rid the region of White man’s colonialism.
To offset charges of imperialism and colonialism Williams invokes the currently
fashionable argument of modernizers (and dramatized in the Showakan) that
Japanese colonialism brought benefits to the colonized.
But what Williams refuses to address is the question contemporary revisionists
in Japan have enthusiastically evaded: the record of Japan’s imperial and colonial
depredations against Asia. Years ago Takeuchi Yoshimi tried to defend those in
the inter-war period who had mounted a powerful critique of Japan’s imitative
modernity and its colonizing consequences. While he approved of the critique,
he was at a loss to explain its relationship to imperial war in Asia and why Japan
waged a war of destruction against fellow Asians. It was Takeuchi who well after
the war reminded his contemporaries that the ‘roots of Japanese fascism lie in
the very structure of Japanese culture’ and it was the ‘honor student culture’
dedicated to maintaining it and personified by theKyoto school that best expressed
the link between the ‘philosophy of total war’ and Japan’s colonizing aspirations
by providing the “‘subjective” legitimation’ to what plainly was an ‘imperialist
war’. Moreover, the same philosophers who supplied, according to Williams, the
template for a future figure of non-White power and multi-cultural and multiethnic
utopia had no trouble in insisting on Japan’s leadership in the coming
reconstruction of Asia, which invariably meant developing a national community
on the Japanese model. As for the empire of Yellow power that had already taken
shape by 1942 it was fully committed to force and violence and to a studied
indifference toward those subject peoples without subjectivity who were now being
asked to participate in the great ‘cooperative’ enterprise. And who can forget
Nishitani Keiji’s memorable addendum on the great ideals of Kyoto’s multi-ethnic
empire which reflected the niggardly offer of partial subjectivity to only the most
able among the empire’s subject peoples qualified to ‘become half-Japanese’?
It is not at all clear why this book has been published (even as one blurb hails it
as ‘revolutionary’) and what kind of audience is being targeted. It is neither good
philosophic exposition nor competent intellectual history. Williams proudly announces
that this is the third monograph he has published with RoutledgeCurzon
and hopefully it is the last. Yet, the publication of this ‘book’ says as much about
Routledge as it does of Williams (on whom we already know too much).We might reasonable wonder about the standards at Routledge (something Williams worries
lot about) and the apparent absence of editorial leadership. The question begged
by this ‘book’ is whether anybody on the editorial staff actually read it, and if
they did what was going through their mind. Who was watching the store when
the manuscript came through? Who, moreover, could possibly have vetted this
incoherent, rambling, self-serving and self-heroizing manuscript and actually recommended
publication with a straight face? For additional insurance, Williams
drops names in his acknowledgements and throughout the text as rapidly and compulsively
as local party loyalists nervously buying votes. The effect of this lavish
spreading of citations is to have constituted an army of virtual support (recruiting
the ‘imprimatur’ of some prominent names in the ‘field’ who have probably been
co-opted unknowingly in his crusade but maybe not), but the presence of this vast
reserve army of would-be supporters still fails to explain the grounds on which
the recommendation for publication was made. Who will read this ‘book’, now
that it has been unleashed, and how it is to be used, apart from providing a guide
to the fine art of browbeating, are other questions too depressing to contemplate.
Unfortunately, the mystery will remain with Routledge and its absent editors who
seemingly have no need to account for the reasons to sanction issuing a senseless
screed which, at the very least, will be able to stand as a reminder of that
other great idiocy of British higher education – the Research Assessment Exercise

New York University

月曜日, 6月 04, 2007

水曜日, 5月 30, 2007


Reporting almost live from Second Life:
The first ever virtual embassy of a real life (RL) country, Sweden House (pictured), was finally inaugurated yesterday by the avatar of the Swedish foreign secretary Mr Carl Bildt, who flew to the scene dressed in purple underwear.

The building quickly became a point of discussion amongst the Nordic citizens of Second Life as it was picketed by radical Danish demonstrators. The demonstrators, wearing striking blue-and-yellow outfits, saw Sweden House as a symbol of RL governmental politics that should not be given a role in the utopian world of SL.

The demonstration sparked heated discussions between visitors, onlookers and picketers. Visitors, many of them Swedish, argued that SL was already so political and, indeed, tribalised, that a 'national' House would not be ideologically significantly different from what is already taking place in SL. The demonstrators, however, counter-argued that RL governmental activities within the virtual world was a wholly unwelcome development for SL and possible other virtual worlds to come. They also stressed that they were not against Sweden as such but defended the principle of SL as a non-political zone, free of governmental interference.

The debate continues.

I am happy to report that there were no violent outbreaks and not a single avatar was hurt.

I regret that I only own 6 L$ and therefore was not able to snap any 'photos' from the site of the demo.

UPDATE: The debate obviously doesn't continue: I was dissappointed to notice that although many Swedish newspapers including Aftonbladet, reported (in Swedish) on the inauguration of Second House of Sweden, I found no stories today (31.5) on the demonstration.

土曜日, 5月 26, 2007

The Chaser's War on Everything - the best topical puerile comedy show on TV for a long while

The Chaser's... is a political/topical/anything comedy show from Australia.

The trailer for "American Baguette":

"- Hello gentlemen, I'm Elder Craig, and this is Elder Andrew, and we're from Al Qaeda.":

A Lesson in History. A skit with a serpent offering free apples (from the best tree in the garden!) outside churches, mosques and schuls:

火曜日, 5月 08, 2007


火曜日, 4月 17, 2007


This is a Looney Tune from 1942 which portrays Hitler as a duck on a farm. It's the usual cartooney propaganda, but at 4.40 or so, enter the Japanese 'duck' with massive teeth who sings how he's a rittre crazy. I haven't seen this one before, so I will store this lettle gem here for now. Ducktators:

Der Fuehrer's Face

The best ever Donald Duck propaganda film made (yet). Haven't seen this in a while - nor any other good Disney flicks for that matter. I suspect Disney raided youtube at one point, but some helpful souls have put stuff out there again. This episode is also known as Donald in Naziland, if I remember correctly.

UPDATE: It's off YouTube again (1.6.2007). If I could actually buy these flicks somewhere I wouldn't have to try to get them illegally, now would I?

月曜日, 4月 16, 2007

Check me out!

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I would've been a Nazi Swine
Achtung! You are 38% brainwashworthy, 50% antitolerant, and 19% blindly patriotic
Sie sind ein Schwein! You would've lived a quiet and consenting civilian life in Germany, while the Nazis stomped all over people you didn't quite care about.

You would never have directly joined the Nazis, basically because (1) you're not so nationalistic, (2) you're not that susceptible to crazy propaganda, and (3) you probably don't have the bloodlust. But you would've appreciated the Party, because you liked how they cleaned out the [insert race you dislike here].

The fact is, you demonstrate too much attachment to and pride of your own kind, be they white & male & straight or whatever. You absolutely would not have stood up to the Germans.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would NOT have STOOD UP to the Nazis. Sorry


My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 44% on brainwashworthy
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You scored higher than 91% on antitolerant
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You scored higher than 22% on patriotic
Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
The Wild Rose
Random Brutal Love Dreamer (RBLD)

shmolorful, but unpicked. You are The Wild Rose.

Prone to bouts of cynicism, sarcasm, and thorns, you excite a certain kind of man. Hoping to gather you up, he flirts and winks and asks you out, ultimately professing his love. Then you make him bleed. Why? Because you're the rare, independent, self-sufficient kind of woman who does want love, but not from a weakling.

You don't seem to take yourself too seriously, and that's refreshing. You aren't uptight; you don't over-plan. Romance-wise, sex isn't a top priority--a true relationship would be preferable. For your age, you haven't had a lot of bonafide love experience, though, and this kind of gets to core of the issue. You're very selective.

Your exact female opposite:
The Dirty Little Secret

Deliberate Gentle Sex Master
The problem is them, not you, right? You have lofty standards that few measure up to. You're out there all right, but not to be picked up by just anyone.

"You're never truly single as long as you have yourself."


CONSIDER: The Vapor Trail (RBLM).

Link: The Online Dating Persona Test @ OkCupid - free online dating.
If I was a country, I'd be Canada!
Your country is 56 concerned with morals, 57 prosperous, 58 liberal, and 30 aggressive! You're a charitable country with a soft spot for mounties. Don't plan on invading anyone anytime soon, but be happy--life's good and people everywhere enjoy a welfare state.

Vous êtes un pays charitable avec un endroit doux pour mounties. Pas le projet sur envahir n'importe qui n'importe quand bientôt, mais être heureux -- vie bonne et gens apprécient partout un Etat-providence.

For your information, the possible countries in this test include: Haiti, North Korea, Albania, Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, Poland, India, Singapore, China, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Libya, Tanzania, East Timor, Lithuania, Indonesia, Iran, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Australia, Germany, or the United States of America.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 59% on morals
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You scored higher than 36% on prosperity
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You scored higher than 49% on liberalness
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You scored higher than 12% on aggression
Link: The What country are you? Test written by cactusoftheeast on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
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