Mike Rogers Has New Article on Lew Rockwell

Say It Loud! I Discriminate! And I’m Proud!

“It’s easy to be conspicuously compassionate if others are being forced to pay the cost”

~ Murray Rothbard

I admit it. I discriminate. I am kind and respectful to the elderly; I am helpful to the handicapped and I open doors for women.

When I go into a Japanese restaurant, I am a racist. I don’t want to see a white guy or a black guy or a Latino guy, or even a Korean guy making my sushi. Funny that. When I go into a Korean restaurant I certainly don’t want to see a Japanese making the food either (ask any Koreans you know if they agree with me).

And speaking of Seoul food, ditto goes for, say a German or Italian, or down-south real Soul food restaurant; and nope, I don’t want to see a guy named Yamazaki making the pork chops and gravy with collard greens.

I guess that makes me a sexist and a racist and all sorts of naughty things and, in some people’s eyes, an all-around scum of the earth.

I am proud to say I discriminate.

Read the rest:

Japan’s Deflation: The Department Store Numbers From 2009 to June 2012

I’ve been doing a lot of data searching and number crunching for the purpose of making presentations for a new Japanese company to obtain government funding. I sometimes help new companies and entrepreneurs to gain government loans and financing as the rates from the government of Japan are incredibly low, and, if the company goes bankrupt, in many instances, the entrepreneur does not have to pay back the loan as it is government backed. The presentation must be extremely thorough and, when making a profit and loss chart, every number added must have some justification and rationale.

In order to make a realistic profit and loss and three year sales projection presentation I searched the Japan Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry site for information on sales for typical bricks and mortar shops.

While doing so, I found information for department stores which I deemed to be very good (to cast things in a positive light) as Japan’s department stores are world famous as a barometer of the shopping and spending habits of the Japanese. Also, since the department stores are very geared to a slightly older and a bit more upper and middle class spenders (rather than young people who are not big spenders), I felt it would represent true Japanese society better. Meaning; it will represent people with money, not those without.

What I found greatly surprised me. Here’s the chart and a brief explanation of what really stands out below;

Click on image for larger view:

Data from the Japan Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry

In the red circles are the final tallies for sales for each year. Comparing the final annual sales numbers from department stores from 2009 to 2011 show a full -7% drop in revenues and spending by customers (as indicated by the blue arrows). We don’t have full data for 2012 yet, of course, but if you compare YoY from 2011 to 2012 it isn’t so bad as sales are up +1.88% for the first six months of 2012.

That sounds great! Things are looking up…. Well, not so fast! Comparing 2009 to 2012 we have still experienced a full -10% drop! (Green arrows).

Now some will say, “Not so fast, Mike! This doesn’t represent online sales which have grown. And yes they have. But still consider that, according to Nikkei survey results show that only about 60% of all Japanese households have a PC. This points to a still strong market for people to shop bricks and mortar in Japan… And, actually, isn’t going out and shopping half the fun?

But let’s compare just for fun… Let’s look at the dominant player in Japan’s online sales and that is Rakuten. Rakuten is Japan’s #1 (maybe #2) online “department store.” Here are figures from Rakuten’s annual sales reports for the sample years of 2006 ~ 2011:

Click on image for larger view:

Data from Rakuten Annual Sales Report

Sales from 2006 to 2011 showed a brisk increase. It slowed down greatly from 2009 to 2011 (which was a bad year all around for department stores and the economy as a whole). Yet Rakuen still showed a healthy increase. Still total annual department stores sales in Japan are well over 173 times that of Rakuten… So, when the department stores are dropping 10% a sales increase of 130% from Rakuten is a drop in the bucket.

Things do not look well in the Japan retail market at all.

Setsuden: Saving Electricity Until it Kills You

NHK reports that over 516 people across Japan were sent to the hospital yesterday with heat stoke related ailments. (Sorry, article in Japanese only).

The story related about nine junior high school students suffering from heat stroke after a tennis tournament inside of a blistering hot school gymnasium… Heat stroke inside a building that has little ventilation and is probably 35 degrees Celsius during a tennis tournament? Nah! Can’t be. Who’d a thunk it?

Also, coincidentally, three other female junior high school students in Gunma prefecture were sent to the hospital with heat stroke at a tennis tournament there too.

What can once deduce from these two anecdotal stories? Either female junior high school kids make great news stories or playing tennis in the blistering heat isn’t a good idea. It’s a close call, but , for my own well-being (and because I’m so lazy) I’ll go with the later.

All levity aside, the nightly news was talking about so many older folks suffering with the high heat and contributing to the effort to save electricity by not turning on their home air conditioners.

How we keep cool at my back patio

That’s the point of this article; the Japanese group think and the group “guilt complex.” The Japanese people have a definite “family” feeling for other Japanese people that’s seems different than most other countries’ people do. It’s a “pride” (for lack of a better word) that “we Japanese are different” and it goes a long way back in a country that is as old as Japan. (I’ve met Dutch people who seemed to feel just about the same way about their countrymen.)

Yesterday I was talking with some Japanese folks who were discussing Setsuden (power saving) and the Japanese psyche. These folks were in their late 30s to mid-40s and were finding the actions of their countrymen to be quite curious. I found what they said to be curious too!

One lady told me,

“The Japanese have such a group culture mentality that when something bad happens to Japanese people far away, the older folks feel like they have to do their part, pitch in, and suffer too. It’s strange in a way. My parents have refused to turn on the cooler and grandmother doesn’t complain (she’s 88!)”

I asked her why grandmother doesn’t complain and she replied,

“She’s from the generation that was brought up in the war. Everyone at that time believed that ‘we are all in this together’ so they felt that group suffering was normal. Nowadays, even though it’s not as strong, my parents think the same way… Things are slowly changing but when they see things like the tsunami disaster, they feel it is their duty to suffer alongside their fellow countrymen.”

I asked her if she was running her airconditioner at home and she told me that she was doing so only at night and at the minimum setting. When I asked her why she didn’t turn the cooler up higher she replied,

“Because if I did, then I’d feel guilty.”


Why I Don’t Go To Protests Anymore – Not Nuclear, Not Anti-War, Not Anything…

“It’s just opportunists taking advantage of a trending social wave.” – Michael Distacio

There is a big concert this weekend with some very famous stars, lead by Ryuichi Sakamoto from Japan, and others from Japan and around the world at Makuhari Messe. The concert is called, “No Nukes 2012.” The event proceeds will go to “Sayonara Nuclear Power 10 Million People Organization.”

I’m not going to this event. No way.

For one I don’t understand how running a concert and burning tons of electricity helps the problem and I don’t like the idea of spending $150 a ticket… Why don’t these musicians have the concert for free at a park and take donations there? And I’ve seen too many of these sorts of things that protest but actually mean nothing.

I’m sure the musicians all mean well (if they truly meant well, they’d perform for free – George Harrison! Where are you when we need you?), but this reeks to me of the typical modern “feel-good-protest” that we’ve seen far too many of in the last few decades; Yeah, yeah, yeah. In this case it’s; “Let’s get together and spend a bunch of money (and tons of electricity) partying, feeling good about ourselves (and acting like we’ve actually done something), and demanding an end to nuclear power!”

Right on! Power to the People! Oh, and Budweiser beer cost $12 a plastic cup! What!?!!

Or is this concert just another excuse to promote, sell music, drink, and pick up on girls?

Then at night, we go back home, drink several more cold ones and watch TV and turn on the air conditioner full blast and do absolutely zero to change our lifestyle. The same lifestyle that, by the way, gave rise to an industry that produces nuclear power to feed a nation with a ravenous apetite for electricity.

I find it to be, well, frankly speaking, bullshit.

That is not to say that I think taking to the streets in protest is completely bullshit, that’s much better than a concert … But I still wonder why, if people weren’t truly concerned about the environment (and I’m not just talking about the dangers of nuclear power), why they don’t throw away their TV sets and turn the air conditioner off and leave it off?

Anyone who has studied the issue for more than 15 seconds knows that oil and coal produced energy are proven killers.

I helped organize a demo in front of the US embassy before the Iraq invasion… Attendance? Maybe 300… Dead Iraqis today? Over 1.2 million. And Japan even sent troops to Iraq in violation of the Japanese constitution! Think the government even cares about an anti-nuke concert? Ha! Get real!

By the way, I threw my TV out years ago and we haven’t used our air conditioner at home… This is coming up to our third summer without an air conditioner at home. I might sound like I am patting myself on the back, but I am not. At the start of summer 2010, the A/C broke and since the repair bill was so high, we decided to wait until summer 2011 to fix it. Then there was Fukushima and we just decided to do without… This is 2.5 summers with no A/C. Not that big of a problem. It’s hot, but not that bad…

On the webpage of the Sayonara Nuclear Power 10 Million People Organization it says:

We have always been aware that humans cannot live with nuclear. We are deeply regretting that even though we knew this fact, our protesting voices and actions against nuclear energy have been far too weak.

We are determined to take actions for a “peaceful and sustainable society”, reconsidering our lifestyles that exploit nature and waste limitless energy, and focusing on natural energy. For that purpose, we set the following goals:

1. Cancellation of construction plans for new nuclear power plants
2. Planned termination of existing nuclear power plants, including the Hamaoka nuclear power plant.
3. Abolition of “Monju” and nuclear reprocessing plants which use plutonium, the most dangerous radioactive material.

We will achieve these goals in order to save our own lives, and fulfill our responsibilities to the future children.

See? This is what I mean by bullshit. They even write, “…reconsidering our lifestyles…” Yet they have nothing at all listed on a personal level… All talk no personal action or sacrifice. It’s great to demand these things and to make other people sacrifice, but how about some personal sacrifice and personal responsibility?

How about adding:

4) Pledge that all our members will stop using air conditioners at their homes.

5) Pledge that all our members will throw out their TVs at home.

6) Pledge that all our members will use only public transportation.

7) Pledge that all our members will cut all electricity use by 30%.

8) Pledge that all our members will not litter or waste food.

Of course, we can’t have people throwing out their refrigerators as spoiled food, especially in a damp and hot climate like summer in Japan could lead to massive food poisoning…

Just like the anti-nuclear demonstrations in the 70s in California or the weak anti-Iraq war demonstrations we held in early 2003 (that I helped arrange – so ask why I am disillusioned) or the “Aids Awareness” concerts held in the mid-eighties: Everyone gets together for a few hours, claps their hands and feels good about themselves and feels like they actually did something or learned something…..

The fact is that they did nothing…

How about some real effort and sacrifice and not just going to a concert and clapping your hands or walking down the street for a few hours only to return to a tall cool beer in time to watch the big game or American Idol on your big screen plasma TV in your most-comfortable air conditioned pad?…

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” - Leo Tolstoy


NOTE: If folks really wanted to have a protest that made The Powers That Be (TPTB) sit up and take notice (and not some lame-assed concert) they’d do something real and make a sacrifice! Like how about getting 4,000 people to all dress up in black and march down main street in Shibuya or Shinjuku and gather at a big intersection. There they’d all take out their credit cards and burn them there, right on the spot. Now that would make TPTB sh*t their pants…. …Nah, but that would be too much of a sacrifice, right? After all, there’s a sale at the big department store next week, right? And every cog in a consumer society needs a credit card…. Now if there was a demo like that, I’d participate and I’d burn my credit card, gladly!

Real UFO (WTFIT?) Over Tokyo July 4, 2012 – Photographic Evidence

7/4 二子玉川に出没したUFO目撃情報まとめ! (日本語一番した!)

Last night I was headed home by car from the radio station. It was about 8:45 pm when I passed by my train station. There I saw hundreds of people all stopped and looking into the skies and taking photographs.

I wondered what they were looking at so we stopped the car and got out. I couldn’t believe it. There, up in the sky, was a UFO… Or as I would call it a “What the f*ck is that?!” (WTFIT).

The object was very far into the skies and it was sitting in one place and not moving about, yet it was vibrating and pulsating and slightly changing forms. The edges would turn red. This is what it looked like to the naked eye:

The object wasn’t completely spherical and seemed to “wobble” (Photo by Michio Hashimoto)

The object would also, while remaining in the same place, mutate in form (Photo by Michio Hashimoto)

This blew my mind. I thought, “I’ve waited all my life to see a UFO. Now I’ve seen one! I have to show my wife and son!” So we rushed home and there, in front of my house, were the neighbors and they were staring at the object in wonderment too!

My next door neighbor, Mr. Yamawaki, is a professional photographer so he had his camera out with a super high quality telephoto lens. These are the pictures he took (at 750 x – so there’s no way the naked eye could see these):

At close up, you could see why the object seemed to be “wobbling” from the naked eye: It was blinking and changing forms (Photo by T. Yamawaki)

I began to realize that this wasn’t a real UFO…(Photo by T. Yamawaki)

By the time I saw this one, I was sort of sad. I was hoping that there really were aliens! That way maybe I could take the day off from work tomorrow! (Photo by T. Yamawaki)

Finally the object changed into a form like this and then, poof! It disappeared! (Photo by T. Yamawaki)

Just before the UFO vanished, my wife (being the logical one – and former TV news reporter) ran into the house and came back out with the news. She said, “Here’s a news update… It’s not a UFO… It’s some sort of ‘electric kite.’ It seems to be a possible sales promotion.”

“Sh*t!” I thought…. “Now I have to go to work tomorrow.” Oh well…. It was great fun while it lasted.

To prove that I am not making this up, here’s a story on it from Excite News:

7月4日 二子玉川にUFOが出現した!? Twitterで話題の目撃情報まとめ











と思っていたところで、望遠カメラで撮られた画像がアップされました! デコトラUFO……束の間の話題をありがとう。

7/4 二子玉川に出没したUFO目撃情報まとめ![Togetter]