Saturday, March 05, 2005

Where have all the homeless gone?

Nagoya City is holding the 2005 Expo which starts later this month.The theme`s caring for the environment.Ironic.Site development involved the clearing of forest providing refuge for an endangered species of Japanese bird.Sigh.
Theres been a furious amount of construction prior to the opening.A new airport has been built.I can think of at least 2 more unnecessary shopping complexes (one complete with ferris wheel) which have been built in anticipation of the increased tourist demand to shop.There`s also been the erection of overhead signs dividing footpaths into pedestrian and cyclist zones.Perversely this seems to have increased the number of collisions Ive observed as both parties stray onto the others territory.Once again the main culprits appear to be old ladies on foot or pedal-powered who consider themselves above such mundane things as road rules.
Anyway more disturbing has been the recent disapperance of homeless people and their blue tarpaulin covered structures from highly visible public places such as parks,under overhead bridges and Central Park in Sakae in the middle of Nagoya.Police and local government officals have been steadily removing these tent-like villages.Today around the TV tower in Sakae council workers were raking soil and grass seed over an area formerly occupied by a row of tents.
I dont know where the occupants have been relocated but i can hazard a guess as to why.It wouldnt do to let foreign tourists see how one of the worlds richest economies deals with its underpriviledged and poor.Better to hide them away than deal with the problem via any welfare or benefit policy to help them.
One of the recently dispossessed has set up digs in my apartment stairway.His collection of plastic bags and neatly rolled up futon in a corner while he spends his day looking for bottles and cans to recycle.

Hunter Thompson and Arthur Miller
Both men made their own unique contribution to literature.Ive read stuff by both.Judging by obituaries alone you`d think Thompson will be the more missed and more valued.Yet how can you compare 'gonzo journalism" with Willy Loman...its like comparing ColdPlay to Zevon

Random Thoughts
I watched "The Fog of War" a dvd length interview with Robert S McNamara former Secreatary of Defence during the Kennedy era as well as Korea and Vietnam.Although completed prior to 9/11 and the Afghan and Iraq wars the parallells were obvivous.Unclear objectives,increased military involvement,no clear exit strategy..sounds all too painfully familiar.Add to this the younger McNamaras striking physical similarity to Rumsfeld and you have an absorbing informative 90 odd minutes.
I never realised that on 10March 1945 over 100,000 Japanese in Tokyo were incinerated or that 50 square miles of Tokyo(the equivalent of New York City) were razed to the ground by a massive B29 raid equipped with incendiary devices..shades of the firebombing of Dresden..
Nor did I know that 40% of Nagoya was also destroyed.One of McNamara`s life lessons or tenets is that "in order to do good you may have to engage in evil."A thought provoking movie with an obvivously intelligent still sharp 85year old man justifying and making peace with himself and his decisions.Im sure after his death more interesting things will come to light about Vietnam and other conflicts.
Recently read Douglas Couplands "Hey Nostradamus".The first novel of his Ive read.There were some intersting characters and ideas such as immortality,God, and relationships floating about in this "Columbine school masacre-like " story.I`ll probably read another of his sooner rather than later.
Also read James Gleicks "Isaac Newton" an easy 191 page read.I cant say I really grasp completely Newtons principles but the book left me wondering what this eccentric gifted man could achieve today given computers,scientific instruments and financial backing.You tend to forget that something as simple as paper and printing we take for granted had to be invented so that things could be recorded and passed down for others to build on.As Gleick points out the Renaissance wasnt just about rediscovering the old laws and theories propounded by people such as Aristotle it was more about moving on from them and either proving them correct or finding alternatives to the earlier ones.Gleick put it far more concisely.sigh.

No comments: