English Peace Frog

A political and personal blog in English and (a little) Japanese.

Location: Japan

Friday, December 31, 2004


今日は12月31日です。私たちはみかんと年越しそばを食べるつもりです。雪が降りそうです。うれしい。Happy New Year, almost.



Thursday, December 30, 2004

Our Father Who Art Pissed?

If we enrage Jesus sufficiently, do you think He will stomp on us? More concretely: if Jesus is the Father, and we, the members of the human race, are His Kids, and we prove we are too inept, brutal, insane or moronic to care for ourselves, do you think He will stomp on us?

I mean, what's a Dad to do with a brood as woefully nutty and inobedient (Thou shalt not kill; turn the other cheek, etc.) as we are?

Cute Little Ecology Robots

We watched the DVD release of Silent Running last night. Dated, unique, self-important, cutsey. Features adorable little robots that communicate with tiny noises long before Star Wars. Young Bruce Dern spends half the movie in a white monk's cowl. He spends the other in a spandex spacesuit, with tight red plastic ribs on the arms and legs.

He's supposed to be an expert botonist and a doctor, yet can't figure out the plants are all dying from lack of sunlight, and actually, although he is not bleeding heavily, gives himself a tourniquet (in the real universe, the way he applies it--without untying it at short, regular intervals, would result in gangrene, and the loss of his leg). He's also able to stroll on the exterior of the spacecraft without any concerns about there being no gravity.

The worst part was the Joan Baez songs. I respect the singer--at least for her work in the sixties--but the creepy, pseudo-melismatic way of singing is agonizing. It's like someone sawing my brain in half.

I think Douglas Trumball was able to score a directing gig after doing the special effects for 2001, and this was the result. Despite the peculiarities / weaknesses, it was fun. It also screams to be remade. I think I might have read something recently about someone making a new version of it, which more likely than not will result in some empty, hollywoodized, formula movie, bloated with digital effects and all the ideas sucked out. Still, there's always a chance someone with a brighter soul might take it on, and make a film with an intelligent, ecological message. Then people can ignore it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Last night, went out with M. for dinner. We spent hours discussing our plans to produce an independent film in Japanese and English. The theme will be heavy: intelligent saturated fats from a planet in Andromeda disguise themselves as vitamins. Health-conscious "Blue" people in the U.S.--anti-war, pro-democracy, Bill of Rights-advocate types, etc.--take the pills; the monstrous saturated-fats extraterrestrials then transmogrify themselves into luminous yellow-green polyps and adhese themselves to the walls of the large intestine. These are like the polyps that Reagan had. Except these intelligent intestinal polyps drive people mad. Overnight, they are changed into fundamentalist lunatics, supporters of "W", drooling and fiendish revilers of The Enlightenment, Darwin, and Carl Sagan. These polyps turn people Red!

We want to make the film bilingual because it will improve our market potential.

M. had ramen, and I had bibimba. The ramen was curiously milk-colored, and the bibimba possessed an unnaturally large slab of beef, and about thirty percent of it was fat. It lingered in my stomach through the night, slinking downward, haunting my sleep.




Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Edward Abbey

I am not an Athiest. I am an Earthiest.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Monday, December 27, 2004

English Peace Frog

Why English Peace Frog? Why? Why? Well, I'll tell you why.

Frogs are the greatest of creatures. If God created them, then God should be patting Himself on the back for the fine job he did. (If God created all the other things that creep and crawl and crow and moo and mew and chirp and chirrup and jabber and pontificate, by and large, I think he did a bang-up job; the earth is an admirable piece of craftsmenship. The colors, shapes, smells, and sounds are good: plenty of blues and greens and browns, variations of the V in mountains, trees and valleys, the rich, lovely scents of bark, blossoms, and soil, the tweet of fowl and the sigh of breezes through boughs, all arranged in ways pleasing to the senses, until you arrive at any large fucking human habitation and get pummeled by asphalt, concrete, convenience stores, fast-foot restaurants, cars, cars, cars, cars, cars, death shrouds of toxic gases, noisy children and ghastly drive-by shootings. Wars. Fat couples arguing over bills. Shrieking, whining and obstreperous customers of a soul-gouging gauntlet of retail outlets, rental centers, video stores, donut shops and Chuck E. Cheeses.

Frogs! Oh, Frogs!

Frogs are the most wonderful animals in the world. All they do is sit around on lily-pads, look adorable, eat insects, and make love and beautiful music. If human beings were like frogs, we would have none of the problems we have now. We'd be at peace, by the pond.

I have spoken.




Sunday, December 26, 2004

Jesus Wept

Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.
Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.


Merry Christmas!


An op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman (December 23, NY Times) describes the here-and-now reality of the Iraq war as one between the bulk of weary Iraqis' struggling for the chance at elections and "nihilistic" opportunists--a sliver of viciously anti-democratic Sunni-Bathists who want control of all that lovely oil for themselves, and who are using worldwide hatred of George Bush to cultivate and bolster an image of being freedom fighters rather than thugs and fascists.

Friedman describes the Bushites, the Europeans, and other Arab nations--the couch-gods looking down on this catastrophe and quarreling over how best to deal with it--in dark terms. Chimpie's folks would prefer to support Rumsfeld to the bitter end, and lose the war, rather than give "liberals" the chance to crow over The Lipless One's ouster (Friedman doesn't address the chance--monumentally large, I believe--that Rumsfeld's ouster won't do much to prevent our "losing the war"; losing is the nature of colonization when the colonizees are armed to the teeth; a good case can be made that we already lost it, the day we arrived). The Europeans, says Friedman, would rather have almost any outcome in Iraq--no matter how disastrous for the Iraqi people--so long as it didn't allow Americans the slightest twitch of victory. Many Arab nations outside of Iraq would rather not support elections than permit a chance of any grimy Shiites leading a country once led by Sunnis.

Maybe Friedman's description of the current situation is accurate. However, the dichotomy he describes, between those who want elections and those who want to seize power, reminds me of some of the grimmer aspects of the stated intentions of past western colonizers. There's an excessively antiseptic, sentimental brand of reasoning behind the idea that the style of democracy, or democracy of any kind, that works so seamlessly (itself an excessively antiseptic point of view) for Americans and Brits must be the solution for the ills of other nations. Friedman's default position is that "free and fair" elections for the Iraqis is appropriate and desirable for their society, and that they are what Iraqis themselves naturally want. There is also the presumption that elections and "freedom" are necessarily bundled together as normally as the bark and the tree: the idea that "freedom", for all the problematic aspects of its definition, is a natural and healthful parent of democratic elections is normal in discourse coming out of the west. It comes out of me also. I'm from the west.

I still wonder, though, if all cultures, at all times, are necessarily best served by democracy. There are certainly countries where, because of ferocious ethnic divisions overriding chances at civic cooperation, democratic processes simply can't be undertaken without exterior, and decidedly undemocratic, forces administering those processes. We're seeing this happen right now in Iraq.

Too often those who herald democracy and freedom as the cure for the ailments of the human condition do so in biblical tones, as though the presumed semantic kinship of "democracy" and "freedom" possesses a third natural component: "Jesus Christ". In Bush's speech at the RNC, he actually said that America's mission to spread "freedom" was "a call from beyond the stars".

We (notice it really is "we" running this process, not "they") should put this democracy question to a vote in Iraq. At the end of January, if they can maneuver past the car bombs to get to the polls alive, Iraqis should be permitted the chance to answer this question on their ballots:

Should American troops leave the country within three months? Yes or No.

If the Iraqis voted "Yes" to this question, would the Americans, who claim to support the sowing of democracy in Iraq, obey the will of the Iraqi people?

Friday, December 24, 2004



Thursday, December 23, 2004

Mission Accomplished!

Seriously Random:

From the L.A. Times yesterday:

President Bush warned the American people Monday that the U.S. engagement in Iraq will intensify in the coming year, with the Jan. 30 election marking the "beginning of a process" toward democracy that will require higher troop levels and continue through 2005.

Mission Accomplished!

The president, says the Times, also laid grounds for radical changes to Social Security along the lines of the worst horror stories conjectured by non-paranoid Bush opponents before the election. Things are proceeding more or less precisely as were predicted by many immediately after Bush's reelection. The war is a lost cause, and we're stuck there to continue losing it for years to come. Previously shaky (as with most historical comparisons) comparisons with Vietnam are becoming more relevant, right down to the image of a "quagmire" and the hordes of maimed vets coming home to inadequate treatment and an ambivalent, possible hostile public.

The wave against Rumsfeld is showing signs of promise. The Lipless General came before cameras to insist he had feelings, and some of them were human. He said, regarding the sadness of family members who were slain in Iraq:

Their grief is something I feel to my core.

Bush went out of his way also to explain that, despite Rumsfeld's "gruff" exterior, he's actually all mushy and sensitive inside.

It is a mark of the man's strength that he was able to conceal his softer side when he scolded troops, who were troubled by being provided inadequate body-armor to do their jobs, saying,

You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have.


On the home front, the flower stem I preserved (from a bouquet of flowers I brought my wife) and attempted to root in a flower pot on our balcony is actually still alive after a month, albeit only slightly.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


My wife hates balloons.

I discovered this about her after I brought home a big bag of them last week. I'd found them at the 100 yen store. They were a real steal: huge, the size of cow's heads, multi-colored and cheap. I blew one up the second I got home, and before I could start tossing it around, she was pressing his hands against her ears, squealing, だめだめ!風船が嫌い!

My wife hates explosions. It's a reasonable, lovely human response to sudden, loud noises, a survival response to perceived danger. My wife is full of sensitive responses to the world. Her senses are as wide-open and perceptive as a baby's eyes. She can perceive very distant scents and sounds that pass others by. These perceptions rattle or exuberate her like colors do a good artist. Glasses left close to the edge of tabletops fill her with anxiety. Unnecessarily loud neighbors late at night disturb her, not only because of the noise, and she herself takes pains to be as quiet as a mouse after dark.

It troubles her when doors are left only partially open.

These allergies to the tiny detonations of life don't come from insanity, peevishness or that soul-killer: the conceited attempt to apply human order to an instrinsically disorderly universe. They come instead from an aesthetic appreciation for health, light, and safety. My wife will be a good mother.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Caring Prick

Today, from AP:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld received a fresh endorsement Monday from President Bush who called him "a caring fellow."

I believed I was incapable of surprise or shock the morning after the election (or a week or two thereafter, when my horror condensed to a hard knob of rubber inside my disillusioned brain, and I stopped feeling emotions), but I still get a jolt when I read nutty quotes like this. My lips fall open, my eyes bulge. My blood is sucked from the extremities to my chest cavity.

Rumsfeld? "A caring fellow"?



A chilly day, heavy, with a sheen of smoke over the city. I was at a Christmas party last Sunday, got to playing with the kids, fell down, injured my back. Am now hobbling around like some horrible old man out of a Dickens novel, cranky, upbraiding my wife, smelling awful.

Welcome to my world.