Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview: Linjamen Storm

Here follows a brief interview with Expedition Leader Linjamen Storm.

Linjamen Storm gulps down his beer in huge gulps as we sit at the Gold Diggaz bar on 15.053 E Street. The seven foot tall, clean shaven, marine leaves to investigate the promising Earth-like planet, 745c, in twelves hours. Will he miss beer on the year-long flight from the mother ship?

“We’ll try to store some but sure; its gonna be tough.”

Obviously it’s not going to be the toughest part of his mission. What makes 745c any different from the other planets we’ve visited in the last 298 years?

“745c seems to have an earth-like atmosphere as well as water.”

A lot of planets have water; Mars for instance.

“The water on this planet, like Earth, is liquid. There could be life down there.”

What kind of life are you expecting?

“I dunno; Dinosaurs would be nice. If you want to know more ask the appointed Biologist or Paleontologist.”

At the time of going to press no Biologist or Paleontologist has been appointed. Deputy-Defence Guy, Ronald Portfield, has threatened to pluck names at random if the two unions cannot decide soon. Linjamen Storm seems unconcerned by it all. Is his squad ready for a potentially dangerous assignment?

“The Marines are always ready.”

But, you have just come out of over one-hundred years in stasis; surely his muslces have atrophed a little.

“Not at all. The Bio-Engineers did a good job.”

Could he tell us more about the stasis experience?

“No, you should talk to Chief Bio-Engineer, Frank Ravanelli.”

The Lieutenant is clearly a man of few words. What will be the make-up of his Legion; as it were?

“The main force will be the US Marine Corps, we will have a team of NASA pilots and an Airforce Landing Crew plus engineers. The government, under a joint CIA-FBI Command, will send a team of scientists and experts. The Allies will themselves send units or observers including the Glorious Gloucesters of Britain.”

Has he ever thought of himself as a Space Marine?

“Sounds cool.”

Storm is a busy man so we finish with the ultimate question. Does he think he will find human or humanlike species on the planet?

“That is unlikely.”

Linjamen Storm, proud Marine, stands tall and salutes before marching off to the barracks on level 34.67. He gave very little away in his interview. Time is counting down till the, as yet undesignated, shuttle blasts off for 745c carrying the hopes of a whole planet on his shoulders. Patriots be assured; his shoulders are strong and broad. The Nation is in good hands.

Jeremiah Novotny, Space Time, October 34, 2538.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

National Holiday

With two days left of the Winter Term school has broken up for a National Holiday. This provides time to gather my strength for the remaining class (on friday) of the semester. It will also be my last class at that Junior High School. Kishiwada city rotates its Assistant Language Tutors every six months between its dozen or so JHS.

* Happy news: Sometimes the best ideas come a long time later than they really should. Listening to the Beeb via the internet should have been a basic discovery way back in 2004 when i first got here. Yet no, however now when i get home from work i can lay on the couch and listen to Radio 4's Today Programme.

* The first of 2 packs from Amazon have arrived; A Science of Sleep (so now i can get English subtitles on the French rather than listening to French and trying to read Japanese subtitles), The Fountain (not out here yet), Delicatessen (classic), a guide to Self-publishing and a book on the SAS (kinda research on a new book - see below). Hopefully the second pack with the Ulysses 31 cartoon will come soon (toons are rare for me).

* Deadlines are approaching, and a good reason not to write a blog, for the Giant Creatures anthology and the Robots Beyond anthology; both by Permuted Press. Both my entries are going well. Xenophobots is conceived as a Transformers/Terminator combo story but aims to tackle two forces on the future of Japanese society; the way of old Japan rooted in feudalism and the equally unbending liberalism of Internationalisation. Tennessee Tumblebug is just about big bugs and giant balls of... well, you can guess.

* On writerscafe, myspace and wordpress i've posted small snippets of a fantasy story conceived in the summer then disastrously lost over the New Year. Part of me feels disinclined to return to that project right now. Its rolling around in my head once more and so i've decided to work on a prequal. When its finished it'll naturally seem like Book 1 or a stand alone book but for me it'll always be a prequal. It will try to make a discussion on language, the randomness of nature and exploration look like an action story.

* As a result of the brainstorming for the novel, while not writing those short-stories, i've been working on linguistics, the environment, archaeology of the new planet as well as science of the future from Stasis, space travel etc.. for someone who tends to keep away from such science its fascinating though perhaps a regression to pre-Arthur C Clarke times. who knows?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lifting A Finger

This piece is a translation of an Article by Ryujin Makoto.
My last blog touched upon the rising level of poverty in Japan. Indeed, [Philip Brasor in] the Japan Times newspaper has suggested that Japan’s Manufacturing industry is sliding back to third world standards.
To combat this slide logical thinkers and Japanese experts are suggesting a rise in the minimum wage might be in order. By earning more the lower income echelons of society can drag themselves a little out of poverty.
But, could we have predicted that the proposed rise would be so little? The government, ever conscious of supporting its poor, has offered a minimum wage increase of a mighty ten-yen. This equals ten-cense or five-pence. [Translators note: This dwarfs the stinginess of my first Somerfields Wage rise from £2.05 to £2.17]
We should not be so shocked. Only last year [2006] a company was pressured into a wage rise by its Union. The Union had offered a wage structure example based upon the wages offered to thirty-two year olds at the company. So, the company gave a wage rise of 100yen a month to all thirty-two year olds.
The excuse given by the government for offering only 10yen extra is that the manufacturing industry in Japan cannot afford anything above 10yen. Already these companies have shed benefit packages and forced employees down to minimum wage but its not enough to keep the industry healthy.
Needless to say 10yen is not helpful. In its genius the government has decided to pay for the wage hike by reducing benefit packages for poor and unemployed families. To this wound the Bank of Salt and the government are debating the merits of doubling the consumption tax [VAT] from 5yen in the hundred to 10yen.
I predict that the poor will continue to get poorer as the government apes that buffoon [Bush] in America.

Rich Japan

This piece is a translation of an article by Ryujin Makoto.
Things in Japan are beginning to coalesce. People are becoming more aware of the growing poverty at the heart of the world's richest nation. But, if it is enough to make people care is another question entirely.
Despite NHK (Japan's National Broadcaster) running its "Working Poor" series and the long running TV Asahi show "Zenigata Kintaro" few people are taking notice. The series, in their own ways, highlight growing poverty in Japan. Yet there is no popular clamour for change, there never is, and the politicians are turning a blind eye so long as the overall economy is ok.
"Working Poor" focuses on individuals living on the bread line in Japan. Though episode 3 considers the poor in America, Britain and South Korea. Most of these families seem to be stuck on minimum wage jobs. Many are broken families, often single mothers, receiving no support from the former spouse. Even qualification holders, such as those with cook's licences, who come from lower class backgrounds are finding it hard to get jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. [Translators note: As a graduate whose first post-graduation job was minimum wage in a shop knows how they feel].
Meanwhile "Zenigata Kintaro" has families competing, with a strong sense of comedy, to prove who is the least well off. The ones that convince the judges win a prize of $2,000. It demeans the subject as many Japanese documentaries often do but it raises some kind of awareness in a society which rarely pays attention to its ills. The featured families do without electricity and eat food that wouldn't nourish a roach. Hopefully these are all exaggerations and not real.
However, as I said in the opening, few are paying attention. This may have changed recently with the publication of comedian Hiroshi Tamura's book; "Homeless Junior High School Student." His mother died when he was young and the pressure of looking after three children caused the father to simply walk away leaving Hiroshi and his siblings living in the park.
Tamura's book, not the TV programmes, has led exalted MP, and heir to PM Fukuda, Taro Aso to declare that "we Japanese should never forget."
Well, home come despite evidence of poverty growing at an alarming rate in Japan why has your government still done nothing?