The ends of the world

Dec 9, 2012

The ends of the world

We are doomed. Are we doomed? December 21, 2012 is 12 days away. The world will end on that day, says the ancient Mayan calendar. Or does it say that? Whether it does or not (most experts now agree it does not) other dangers ...

Dec 9, 2012

Apocalypse made in Japan

A world-ending cataclysm is common to many mythologies. The Biblical flood narrative is the best known and follows a fairly typical pattern: wrathful deity, mass destruction, surviving remnant — in this case the righteous man Noah and his family. We gather from these tales ...

A third force enters the election race

Dec 3, 2012

A third force enters the election race

On Nov. 16 Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda shūin wo kaisan shita (衆院を解散した, dissolved the Diet’s Lower House). In August he had promised to do it “chikai uchi ni” (「近いうちに」”soon”). The term is elastic and the governing Minshuto (民主党, Democratic Party of Japan, DPJ) stretched ...

| Dec 2, 2012

Silent majority blasted by political noise

Here’s another election upon us — a fitting time to reflect on tranquility and its opposite, cacophony. The tranquility of tearoom and meditation hall, the stillness of the cicada’s cries “sinking deep into the rocks,” are long gone — mourned by some, forgotten by ...

The Fish Tree

Nov 25, 2012

The Fish Tree

Once upon a time there was a child who, being a child, simply didn’t know what to make of himself. “Look,” said his mother. “I brought the sun out for you. Go out and play.” “With the sun?” “Why not with the sun?” “Mom?” ...

| Nov 11, 2012

The changing face of fatherhood in Japan

My maiden brush with paternity in Japan was in 1982. New to the country and new to my job, I said to my boss, “My wife is expecting a baby on such-and-such a day and I’ll want that day off.” He looked at me ...

Cooperation is needed to solve global economic crisis

| Nov 5, 2012

Cooperation is needed to solve global economic crisis

Everybody agrees: We need kōdō (行動, action). What 行動, though? And whose? That’s where the unanimity crumbles. The Kokusai Tsuka Kikin (国際通貨基金, International Monetary Fund, IMF) and the Sekai Ginko (世界銀行, World Bank) held their nenji sōkai (年次総会, annual general meetings) over three days ...

Nov 4, 2012

Finding the Way in art of war

THE DAO OF THE MILITARY: Liu An’s Art of War, translated by Andrew Seth Meyer. Columbia University Press, 2012, 157 pp., $19.50 (paperback) There are two ancient Chinese texts titled “The Art of War.” Liu An’s, the one under review, newly translated by historian ...

| Oct 28, 2012

You can't choose your (invisible) neighbors

Some animals are solitary. Others live in flocks or herds. Human beings are somewhere in between. Our sociability and our economic needs force us into communities, where our misanthropy, meanness and selfishness — or maybe it’s an instinctive craving for solitude — can make ...