Category Archives: Bookosphere

Suicide Circle

Internet kills nine in Japan,” by Gaijinbiker, Riding Sun, http://ridingsun.blogspot.com/2005/02/internet-kills-nine-in-japan.html, 6 February 2005.

Suicide Circle is most notable for toping Battle Royale‘s horror and bodycount in the first minute. Cliches about sadness aside, Japan is in the business of processing despair

The AFP reports on the latest in a string of group suicides in Japan:

Nine people were found dead in two cars outside Tokyo today in what were believed to be the latest in a series of macabre suicide pacts involving charcoal burners that have swept Japan.

…Nearly 50 people have died in similar suicides since early October.

Gaijinbiker, after exonerating the internet from blame, analyzes

Instead of blaming technology, we should be looking at why these folks are so depressed in the first place:

Suicide rates rose after the economy began to slump in the 1990s.

So, to get suicides down, Japan needs to get economic growth up. And while there are plenty of structural problems in Japan’s economy that need to be addressed, one thing that will help pull Japan out of its slump is the Internet.

Japan’s anemic economy is a moral crises. Nations can happily grow quickly or slowly, but when they stagnate they breed misery. Japan’s Prime Minister is a reformer, and his privatization and anti-agriwelfare reforms are promising. Let’s hope he can get Japan moving again before they have 1930s-level unemployment like their former ally.

Even the Crazies Like Barnett

Scenario: Chechen Independence (Part 1), by John Robb, Global Guerillas, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/01/scenario_cheche.html, 26 January 2005.

And now, a more direct criticism of the Chechen independence scenario sketched by John Robb, above, by”dialectic,” Global Guerillas, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/02/scenario_cechen.html, 28 January 2005.

Scenario: Chechen Independence (Part 2), by John Robb, Global Guerillas, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/02/scenario_cechen.html, 2 February 2005.

Commenting on a Global Guerillas article that gives advice to Chechen seperatists (by imagining a news article from the future)

The new Chechen strategy, enabled by a small percentage of the tens of thousands of Chechen exiles scattered throughout Russia, emerged with multiple attacks on the critical sections of Gazprom’s natural gas pipeline network to the north and south of Moscow. The simplicity of the attacks were alarming. Many were done merely with a propane tank. In one hour, access to 500 b cubic meters a year of output was cut off. The damage in the attacks was extensive enough to require 2 weeks of repair work.

This would have been containable, given the system’s forward storage system, if it only occured once. However, attacks continued along the hundreds of miles of vulnerable natural gas pipelines in the critical sections. This radically reduced supply. The net effect was a 70% delivery shortfall to critical European export markets and western domestic customers in the first three months of the new campaign. It couldn’t have been planned better — storage levels were are their nadir following a particularly cold winter.

It did. Putin, faced with the option of a decade of delay in Russian economic progress or Chechen independence, chose independence. A cease fire was called in October of 2005 to negotiated the referendum. It culminated in the document he was to sign today. Chechnya would be free. Global guerrillas had won.

Comes a Bizarro-Barnett comment

I think it very likely that Chechnia will attain independence from Russia, and may well do so via “System Disruptions” targeted on the Russian energy transmission network.

BUT: It won’t be as a result of Global Guerilla activity. Rather, it is overwhelmingly likely to come about because of CIA – Special Forces destabilization activities put into operation in those regions and funded by the US.

(The side bar specifically lists The Pentagon’s New Map as suggested reading, implying the poster means system perturbations).

In a follow-up article Mr. Robb comments

How the media cover “terrorism” can also provide support for global guerrillas. Direct assaults on the target population (traditional terrorism like that of the Chechen Black Widows) get the greatest coverage. It dominates the headlines and therefore will evoke the greatest defensive response from the target state. Attacks on infrastructure get much less coverage and therefore less attention. However, the impact of systems sabotage vs. traditional terrorism on markets is entirely lopsided in favor of systems sabotage. In the parlance of Blitzkrieg, traditional terrorism would be termed a Nebenpunkt (a distracting effort).

This “media effect” in combination with the vast vulnerability of a state’s critical systems architecture, provides an amazingly effective means of manufacturing indirection. As we see in Iraq, the state is in a perpetual collapse due to systems sabotage, while the vast majority of the defensive effort is put towards the defense of the political, governmental, and military targets. Large attacks against high profile symbolic targets (of traditional terrorism) provides the cover to allow systems sabotage to remain a green field — a set of targets that are always under-defended and continuously provide amazing rates of return on the violence capital invested.

I don’t know what to make of the site. It is well written and does not appear to be a parody. Sadly sometimes, blogs do make for superempowered-individuals.

Ishihara and Tanaka

Liberals in the lead,” The Economist, http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3562305, 13 January 2005.

Besides sadness and aikokushin, Japan’s also noted for hyper-interesting local politics

If all politics is local, then 2005 could be a big year politically for Japan. Throughout the year, 136 elections will be held in prefectures and big cities, along with more than 400 local ones in smaller towns. Local politicians have already been gaining prominence in recent years, with independent-minded governors such as Masayasu Kitagawa in Mie, Yasuo Tanaka in Nagano and Shintaro Ishihara in Tokyo grabbing headlines and upstaging national politicians and officials. If these trends continue in 2005, that will be a good indicator of the prospects for reform.

The article drones on and is not all that interesting, but the mentioning of distinctly-Japanese-rightist Ishihara and distinctly-Japanese-leftist was nice. The best introduction to these two monumental figures, both of whom have a shot at becoming Prime Minister, is found in Japan Unbound. From a press release:

Nathan profiles several leaders in culture and politics. We meet Yoshinori Kobayashi, a demagogue and ultranationalist cartoonist. His series called The Arrogant-ism Proclamations, informed by the notion that arrogance is the only antidote powerful enough to rouse Japan from its subservience to foreign ideologies and foreign interests, has sold more than twenty million volumes. Politicians like Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo and the country’s most powerful nationalist, and Yasuo Tanaka, hero and champion of the burgeoning Japanese left, are also featured.

In the book, Ishihara is a politician the American Right could love. Proudly patriotic and a defender of Taiwan’s interests, he’s also a “can-do” Governor of Japan’s largest prefecture. Yasuo is a polar opposite, comfortable with stuffed animals and schoolchildren. He leads a prefecture laden with debt from the Nagano Olympics.

What will Japan’s future hold? I have no idea. But with great work like Japan Unbound in the bookosphere, and The Economist‘s reporting, we will know in time.