And now for something completely different

For a change of pace this weekend, here are some articles that caught my eye that have little or nothing to do with Japanese politics:

“Transcitizens of the world unite,” FT, John Sutherland: Sutherland writes about the experience of living a good portion of one’s time in a country other than that of one’s birth, upbringing, etc. I am sure much of this will resonate with fellow foreigners in Japan.

We transcitizens are of the 21st century. National bureaucracies are a century behind. Two tax days a year (and infuriating, insoluble calculations as to which slice goes where). Two incomes. Two measly state pensions in prospect (Social Security and OAP – the American dole can be collected at 62). Two professional pensions, ditto (where, then, will one spend one’s sunset years?) Two health services (the US’s much better: if, that is, you’re “covered”. It’s also better if you’re assetless. If you’re middle class and uncovered, with assets, it’s bad). Two driving licences (licenses) and two wholly different styles of driving (overtaking on inside lane, OK; right on red, OK; 35mph, not 30mph in built-up areas, etc, etc). Light switches down in the UK, up in the US. Jaywalk in London but never in LA. Free refills over there – but coffee so weak goldfish could swim in it. Boxes for restaurant leftovers there (even in five-star eateries) but never here. Free bagging and help to the car in American supermarkets – in the UK not even paraplegics can expect assistance. Cells there, mobiles here. Mind-achingly “responsible” newspapers there, lively Fourth Estate here. This month’s movies there, last month’s here. Sixth season of The Sopranos there, fifth here. So it goes. One lives and works in a state of benign, functional distraction.

“Land of Plenty,” New York Times Book Review, George F. Will: Will reviews Brink Lindsey‘s The Age of Abundance, which argues that the postwar growth of prosperity in the US transformed the US into a country unlike any that had existed before. Will asks whether this should be viewed as a uniformly benign change.

“The Prisoner’s Dilemma of Cool Biz,” Clast, W. David Marx: In a post to warm my political scientist’s heart, Marx applies prisoner’s dilemma to decision making about whether to “participate” in Japan’s Cool Biz campaign.

“The baguette is back,” Times Literary Supplement, Bee Wilson: Wilson reviews Steven Laurence Kaplan’s Good Bread is Back, a book about the revival of the art of breadmaking in France. It’s rare that I post an article that I can describe as mouthwatering.

And finally, via Wonkette, George H.W. Bush vomiting on Prime Minister Miyazawa…

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