Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!  I tried to carve an elaborate pirate pumpkin and it ended up as pumpkin soup.  Oh well. 

John got a defense verdict this week!  Yeah!  He's so much fun to watch... I try to go to his trials when I can.  I feel like I'm back working in a law firm, sizing up the jury, etc. 

I finished this session of bootcamp today - 5lbs and 3 inches trimmer.  It is still 85 degrees here if you can believe it.  I am just so excited to come home for Thanksgiving.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm reading this book - Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson, a UCSD professor (although I never had him).  Prophetically written just prior to 9/11, its title refers to CIA terminology for the unintended consequences of secret American foreign policy actions. Interestingly for me personally, a large portion of the book talks about Okinawan and the continued American military presence on this island. I'm not sure if I've expressed it in previous posts, but Okinawans are not Japanese. Their history includes Chinese colonization, then Japanese, then American, (it actually became part of America from '45-'72), then America "gave" it back to Japan.  That's fairly recent. That's Watergate recent. 

Without going into Dr. Johnson's entire thesis, I found as I was reading that his account of Okinawa and their feelings towards the US Military to be a little.... extreme.  He details a deep seated resentment by the Okinawans (and many mainland Japanese) at our foreign policy and it's implications for their country. He warns that the results of this resentment have been, time and time again, a blowback, or some form of terrorist attack on American interests. (like I said, pretty prophetic that it was written just prior to 9/11.)  Still, his inclusion of Okinawans in the book seemed so extreme to me.  The Okinawans are lovely people.  Sure, I can't converse that well with them, but they always greet me with a smile when I run into them on the street.  I haven't noticed any outright hostility.  Sure, there are some restaurants that shoe us out, pointing to signs that say "no Americans."  And some of the places we do like to go definitely give us the cold shoulder and bad tables. There are the hand-painted wooden signs in our neighborhood that say "No more Sunabe Airbase." And obviously when the alleged attack of the young girl by the Marine happened several months ago, the island was pretty hostile to Military.

All in all, I think it's really easy for the military to live in a bubble as to how our hosts really feel about us. After all, it is the Japanese government, not the Okinawans that have acquiesced to our residual bases here. The word on the street is that Japan relies on us for safety in the treacherous Asian continent, what with Kim Jon Il, et al. Although,  Johnson really refutes that theory as a cover for our own interests.

Yesterday, I was driving home from the gym, and as I crossed out of the Kadena gate, I noticed large film crews filming cars as we exited the base, and a good sized mob of protesters, all Okinawan/Japanese.  The signs were in Kanji, and I could not read them. I presume that they were not protesting Johnny's Used Cars, which is located across the street from Kadena AFB, but rather the base itself.  No info on the news about this protest (the only English TV we get is AFN, provided by the military, and not likely to cover a protest to our base). Japanese TV may have had a story, but I really can't understand Japanese enough to get much from it.

What is my point?  I'm not quite sure. Much of the point of Blowback was that it was the result of SECRET foreign policy actions taken by our government (in our name). Like our role in the coup of Mossadegh in Iran.  Like arming the Taliban in the 80's.  The secret part is key.  But it does not have to be a deliberate secret. An ignorant population has the same effect as a secretive government. I did not even know that we had military bases in Japan until my husband's job dragged me into the middle of it, nor did pretty much anyone I know.  There are thousands and thousands of Americans on this island. An island the size of Los Angeles... U.S. bases take up one fifth of it.  So maybe it's not that US foreign policy is secret - the information is out there for those who search.  But these protests are not on the news.  As an American citizen and a military wife, I am interested in knowing why my neighbors are upset. And yet, I can't seem to find out the details of this protest directed at one of our bases. But I think I can make a guess.

Just trying to make sense of it all.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So, certain readers have complained recently about my lack of bloggage. I have no one to blame but myself.  Those of you who know me... (and lets get real, the only people who read this blog are my father, mother in law and father in law.  And George.  Hi George.) ... those of you who know me, know that I can be focused to a fault.  These days, graduate school is sucking up the majority of my focus, which also entails a ton of political reading, and then, naturally the election which is driving me insane.  My poor overworked husband is not home enough to distract me out of this hole, so I'm left here stewing in my own juices.  The jewelry biz has also been taking a lot of time.  We put together a really great photo shoot last month, and I will be posting the photos on the Jib & Genoa site soon. Lord knows that the first thing to go in a bad economy is JEWELRY, so we'll see how long we can stay afloat. 

So speaking of jewelry, I realized that I never posted Tokyo photos other than the Mt. Fuji ones.  The second day we were in Tokyo, we stopped by Takashimaya, the Japanese department store that carries our jewelry.  

Takashimaya is like a Neiman Marcus only much bigger.  I'd compare it to Harrod's of London, and they have many many stores around the world.  They are one of our biggest customers. 

We even made it into their Christmas catalog last year!

Lauren and I were milling around the jewelry section, looking for remnants of our jewelry (they had ordered for Holiday '07, so if they had anything left, I figured it would be in a sale bin.)  Very shortly thereafter, I spotted the Jib & Genoa case.  I was so excited to see it, and Lauren said I should snap a photo.  I know that most department stores forbid photography, but I thought I'd take a shot.  In my broken Japenglish, I asked one of the shopgirls if I could take a photo.  She politely declined my request.  So then I said "I am the designer" trying to tell her that I'm only taking a photo of my own pieces.  Meanwhile, I couldn't have looked less stylish.  I'm pretty sure I was wearing a beanie, a baggy t-shirt and baggy jeans not in an interesting, Kate Moss sort of way.  There is no way she's going to buy that I am a designer.

WELL.  She just about fainted.  She starting waving her hands around and putting them over her mouth.  Then she told another shopgirl and that one put her hand over her stomach and her heart and started smiling and giggling. Then those two go tell two more shopgirls and they are literally freaking out. Yammering to each other putting the back of their hands to their foreheads.  thankfully, they composed themselves long enough for me to take a photo.

Meanwhile, Lauren, who has the most infectious laugh you've ever heard, is laughing hysterically at this ridiculous gaggle of Japanese girls who are freaking out because I am an actual designer and clearly look like a fool.  It was the most embarrassing and flattering moment that I can recall.  

I think I should get a videographer and just go around to clothing stores here and tell people I am the designer of this or that, and just film them freaking out.  I love Japanese people. 

I am counting the days till I get to go home for the holidays.  I am craving some heirloom tomatoes from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.  It's odd how you can miss certain types of produce.  Daikon radishes and bitter mellon just don't do it for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Welfare and Pork

Want to know how those bi-partisans in congress got that dirty diaper of a bailout bill passed? How they garnered the support of those liberal Democrats looking out for main street tax payers and conservative Republicans who are ideologically opposed to corporate welfare?

They bribed them.  Works every time. Here's some fun ones:

1. Repeal of a $.39 excise tax on wooden arrows manufactured in Oregon;

2. $128 million of tax relief for the manufacturers of car racing tracks, aimed at congressmen in Nascar states, such as Virginia and North Carolina;

3. A provision to give $10 million in tax breaks to small television and film producers (thankfully not my congressman Waxman, because he had already, amazingly voted for it. At lease he's not being bought);

4. $223 million to Alaskan fishermen who were affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

5. An increase in limit on the excise tax of RUM to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

6. $19 billion for companies doing research and experimentation in the United States, (Microsoft, Boeing, United Technologies, EDS, and Harley-Davidson)

7. $148 to clothing manufacturers that use imported wool fabric.

8. $3 million to businesses doing business in American Samoa.

Full list here, in full Orwellian prose. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Testy Armchair Punditry

Andre left today.  We had a great time, did some jungle hiking, drinking habu-sake with cross-dressing performance artists, got some acupuncture, went to McDonalds...the complete Okinawa experience.  Much of the time we sat around and watched the American economy flush down the toilet.  Fun times.

Ah, the election that never ends. Everyone's an armchair football coach. Everyone's got a better strategy, a better plan for victory. If only there was a direct line to the QB's headset from the red phone on my coffee table, surely the darn Chargers/49ers/ Patriots would win.  Right?  

This is how I approach this election.  Sitting on my leather recliner, O'Douls in hand, (have to keep the mind clear during the debates) I can shoot down at least 1/3 of everything these candidates say.  And all I can think is WHAT IS STOPPING THEM from just GOING THERE.  I guess Biden's not supposed to attack a woman because he's a loudmouth and it would look bad, but she sure got off some snarky and sarcastic remarks, but laced with that twinkle in her eye, it passes for charm?  

So she says that McCain is a warrior who's been in wars and knows how to win wars, and I can't help but ask, "what war would that be? what war was he in that he knew how to win?"  I don't understand the touchy-feelly nostalgia that haunts the baby boomers about Vietnam that makes it a subject that can't be brought up, but hello?  Did we not LOSE THAT WAR? Can we say that yet, cause it's been 33 years. Did it not take tens of thousands of lives and years to realize that?  Have the books not been written? When McCain says "we're safer today than we were 7 years ago" this is your chance, big O, this is where you say "NO WE'RE NOT. We've unleashed a virtually unilateral, illegal war in the center of massive cluster of really pissed off people and created generations of potential terrorists, our ports are not an ounce safer, and we're making enemies out of former allies." But no, Obama agrees with him.  

And McCain had the perfect opportunity to gather a ton of public support and re-energize his conservative base voting no on this crazy bailout. The public is overwhelmingly against it.  My Senator Feinstein got 95,000 phone calls, 85,000 of which told her to vote no.  Voting "no" falls right in step with what had once been the republican party line of fiscal conservatism.  I don't get it.  Now he's wishy-washy and said something to the effect that Gee-Dub should now veto it? Amazing. Then again, what the heck to I know?... they're the politicians.  They see these big crisis' coming, except, when of course THEY DON'T.

So I learned something interesting today. The Democratic and Republican candidates actually made a confidential contract this year regarding the "terms" of the debate, presumably to determine what was off limits.  The public does not get to see this contract. The organization that conducts the debates (every debate since 1984) is run by a private corporation, funded by none other than (.....wait for it.....) corporations that have regulatory interests before the congress!! Yep, that sounds just about right. Anheiser Bush is the largest contributer, and that's why the debate took place in St. Louis. Corporate sponsored debates!! 

Originally, debates had been funded by the League of Women Voters ('76-'84) who would refuse to implement any secret contracts between candidates, and would also allow third party candidates. In 1987, the parties created a private organization, run by two lobbyests, who has, ever since, had 100% control over the moderator and the subject matter that can be discussed. No third party candidates are allowed, unless the two-party candidates allow them to come in (as was the case with Perot - Dems wanted him in, Reps agreed if they cut the # of debates).

So, No Cynthia McKinney, No Ron Paul, No Ralph Nader, No Bob Barr.  Oh and BTW, McKinney, Paul, Nader and Barr are the only people running for president that don't want to bail out wall street with tax revenue we don't actually have.  They are the candidates that want to limit the military industrial complex and end the Iraq war.  We don't get to hear from them. Because those apparently aren't options worth debating with Obama and McCain.  Both parties are complicit in this wall street/sub-prime mess, but we don't get to hear any dissenting voices.

Instead we get a weak debate with sound bites, repeating everything we already know about the two corporately funded candidates.  How do we expect to have candidates that represent us when I can only contribute $2000 but there is practically no limit to the money that corporations can run through their campaigns.

Anyway, that's all the news from Lake Wobegon.  Johnny has another trial on Monday, will keep y'all updated!