The F-35 fighter jet project is coming along nicely save a few hiccups. Pilots are asked to limit the jet’s airspeed to avoid “damage to the F-35’s airframe or stealth coating.” Kind of the point with a fighter jet. To go fast and not fall apart.
The Honda lawnmower that can go 150 mph announced last year? There’s now video.
A couple of weeks ago, I took the family to see Then They Came for Me, an exhibit about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast during the Second World War. The exhibit, at San Francisco’s Presidio, has been extended through August and I highly recommend it. The use of the courts to remove civil liberties and justify racism (let’s call it what it was) is an ugly chapter in American history. Lessons learned then are more relevant than ever in today’s political environment of bombastic pronouncements and unnecessary walls.
Most know about the forced removal of 120,000 Americans from California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington during World War II but did you also know,
Most families were given only a few days to clear out or give away everything they owned. Lifelong businesses were shutdown and sold off for pennies on the dollar. Houses were sold off, basically repossessed. You were only allowed a single suitcase and it wasn’t clear where you were going.
Until the actual camps were built, families had to make do in the horse stalls at local racetracks. Of course it stunk, was cold, and there was no privacy.
The “Internment” camps were a nice way of putting it. They were basically concentration camps, surrounded by razor wire and machine gun towers. The shacks were simple tar-paper sheds which provided almost no insulation from the freezing temperature in the Winter and baked in the desert sun during the Summer.
There were many acts of passive resistance in the face of extreme institutional injustice. This was 20 years before the civil rights movement.
Award-winning photographers Ansel Adams and Dorthea Lange were hired by the War Department to document the round-up and show it in a favorable light. Photos that depicted machine gun towers or protests were censored. It didn’t go as planned and we have them to thank for their record of this time.
We were lucky to have a guide the day we visited. Not just any guide but Donald Tamaki, one of the lawyers who worked on the team that cleared Fred Korematsu from the landmark Korematsu v. United States case.
In the video clip above, Don talks about how his team uncovered evidence of a cover-up. There was no evidence of any shore-to-ship radio messages, the threat of Japanese spies was unfounded, made up. 120,000 people were ripped out of their communities for no reason. Farms, businesses, and homes were sold off and people were told to suspect their neighbors for no reason.
In the end, the Supreme Court took the military & intelligence at their word and went along with their demand for an exclusion zone and incarceration of all those of Japanese decent within it. Once the courts stop questioning the other branches of government, in this case Congress and the President, the balance that keeps dictators and tyrants in check is lost.
While the current Chief Justice Roberts has said Korematsu v United States ‘has no place in law under the Constitution’ the law still exists, The Supreme Court has not reversed its original decision so the law that gives the president power to round up people based on race in times of national security is still on the books. As the dissenting justice in the original ruling writes, such a flawed law “lies about like a loaded weapon.”
A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period, a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need. Every repetition imbeds that principle more deeply in our law and thinking and expands it to new purposes.
It was only the 2nd time ever that there were two English soccer teams playing each other in the European Champion’s League final. Thousands of fans flew from England to Madrid, Spain to cheer on their favorite team. 63,272 managed to squeeze in to see the match. Meanwhile, two US MLS Soccer teams played in Atlanta and sold over 67,000 tickets.
Across the Bay, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution decriminalizing psychedelic magic mushrooms.
Almost 19,000 women filed a petition with Japan’s Labor Ministry calling for a ban on dress codes that require women to wear high heels at work. Takumi Nemoto, Japan’s Health and Labor minister, cryptically replied, “It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate.” Who is Nemoto you ask? He’s the same fellow who was accused earlier in the year of fudging government data resulting in over 20 million being short-changed on their benefits. Something that has been going on for 15 years.
In what most certainly was a case of the cure doing more harm than the ailment, an injured woman in her 70’s was airlifted off a mountain outside of Phoenix and was given the whirl y-gig ride of her life.
A “bloom” of ladybugs 80 miles wide flying between 5,000 and 9,000 feet in the skies near San Diego were so concentrated that they were picked up on radar.
A hotel safe, unyielding to blacksmiths, the safe manufacturer and former hotel employees who had long forgotten the combination, was opened by a random visitor who guessed correctly on his very first try.
“We are now in uncharted territory” said the announcer at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. After 5 and a half hours one day and 3 and a half the next, an unprecedented eight contestants remained and, for the first time, shared the championship.
A technician restoring an old synthesizer from the Sixties absorbed LSD through his fingers and started what became a nine-hour trip. Apparently the avant-garde musician that used the instrument in the 60s used to dip the wires into LSD to inspire the musicians (and music?).
President Trump will attend the Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo this weekend. He will present the winner with a custom, “Trump Award” but is causing much consternation because he has asked to sit in a chair and not on a traditional Japanese zabuton cushion like everyone else.
A town in Spain was forced to shut down a slide that connected two streets, saving a 10-minute walk. Many people using it hurt themselves after getting ejected off the bottom of the slide’s 33-degree slope.
Arizona followed New York’s lead and lifted a ban on nunchucks. “I find it interesting that a state that allows you to walk around with a gun on your hip worries about nunchucks being a problem,” said Shawn Sample, an Arizona karate instructor. No word on Alabama.
A Key West woman was arrested on a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a coconut.
A student in South Africa apparently got away with posing as “someone from headquarters” as he helped himself to free KFC in the name of quality control. Bold move for sure but bonus points for getting away with it for a year.
Izumi and I have told this story countless times so it’s ironic that I have never posted anything about it here, this place where I post stories to share. When people ask either of us, “So how did you two meet?” This is that story.
When I was living in Tokyo I worked at a Japanese company, Kyodo. My division was with a joint-venture Kyodo had with Dow Jones called Kyodo Tsushin. We sold financial news and market data to banks and financial firms. I was with a group that served Western financial firms so in our group there were some native English speakers as well as Japanese that spoke excellent English.
One evening our group went out for drinks and I struck up a conversation with Izumi who had recently joined our team. I was struck with how she had no trace of an accent and asked her where she learned English.
“Oh, I was born in Brooklyn and went to Montessori school there. English was actually my first language but my parents moved back to Japan when I was seven so I grew up in Japan.”
Thinking that was quite specific but also surprised because her experience matched my circumstances. I mentioned that I too was born in Brooklyn and I too went to Montessori school. We also discovered we were both discovered that we were both about the same age but left it at that.
The next day Izumi came in to tell me that there was a good chance we went to the same nursery school in Brooklyn. She told me that she went home and told her mother that she had “met a Mr. Kennedy who also went to Montessori school in Brooklyn” and her mom immediately asked, “Do you mean Ian? Did he have curly hair?” Izumi’s mom remembered my name, after all those years!
A couple of days later Izumi brought in an old, faded photo of me at her house for her birthday party.
Floored to see this old photo, I then went to visit my parents who live in Japan now and went thru the shoe box that is our family photo album and found this photo of Izumi, at the same birthday party, from a different camera.
Our two parents knew each other in Brooklyn.
The Japanese have a phrase called “the red thread” ( 赤い糸) which is like this invisible thread that was strung between us, over all these years since we’ve been apart. Within a year of the photos taken above Izumi and her parents moved back to Japan where she grew up and I stayed on the East Coast and grew up there. It was only after 25 years that we came together again, halfway around the world from Brooklyn.
I went back to the photo box at my parent’s house and later found this, our class photo from that Montessori school in Brooklyn. Can you spot us below?
We discovered later that there were several other connections between our two families. My father, a restaurant critic, was a huge fan of Izumi’s aunt’s restaurant Marie Claude and had included one of his reviews of her restaurants in his book, Good Tokyo Restaurants.
Furthermore, my parents were eating at an izakaya in Jiyugaoka and sat next to Izumi’s parents. When they struck up a conversation, they made the connection that Izumi’s mom was the sister of Kazuko, the chef behind Marie Claude. While they celebrated making that connection, they did not realize the deeper connection, that they knew each other from Brooklyn at the time.
One final note of symmetry. My father was born on the longest day of the year, Izumi’s on the shortest. I have a younger sister and am the oldest of two siblings. Izumi has a younger brother and is the oldest of two siblings. Both our younger siblings are the same number of years apart from us.
I guess you could say the connection is strong 💪 Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
Ben Hsu fell asleep with two Airpods but in the morning could only find one. He used his iPhone’s “Find my Airpods” tracking feature which causes the Airpod to chirp so you can locate it. ‘I checked under my blanket and looked around but couldn’t find it – then I realised the sound was coming from my stomach.’
Two teenagers skipping school from Christ’s Church Academy in Florida were pulled out to sea while swimming at the beach. Realizing the gravity of their situation, they cried out to God for help. A sailboat heading up the coast happened to see them and rescued them. The boat’s name? Amen
The Pentagon has decided to end a training program for Afghan Air Force pilots after 40% of them went AWOL while in America and never came back.
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang promised to deliver his State of the Union address with accompanying PowerPoint slides. In response, the crowd erupted in what must be the world’s first instance of a collective chant for “PowerPoint! PowerPoint!”
The actor Tommy Lee Jones has been the celebrity spokesperson for Suntory’s Boss canned coffee since 2006. Many Western celebrities do commercials in Japan, it’s a quick way to make a buck. But TLJ has been doing it for so long he has become synonymous with Boss coffee and his face firmly part of Japanese popular culture.
In all his commercials he is cast as an outsider, watching Japanese society as a melancholy observer. Over time, we discover he is an alien, sent to investigate the Japanese. He takes a series of odd jobs to get closer to his subjects but he is always removed, watching, alone, with his can of coffee. Stoic.
Last week the Emperor of Japan voluntarily stepped down and a younger generation took his place. It was the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the next. Everyone in Japan was given 10 days off to reflect and, while I’m not there, I can imagine it must be a time of great retrospection as people look back on the past 30 years and how the country has changed.
The Tommy Lee Jones character is no different so in celebration, Suntory ran this 2 minute super cut of TLJ’s greatest hits as a nostalgia piece.
For a detailed explanation of what’s going on in the video above, read this.