Saturday, February 11, 2006

CSI: Target Greatland

Good grief -- Target has an advanced forensic crime lab?! Good enough that police departments around the country are calling on Target for help?

Well, I guess you can buy socks whilst busting criminal operations. Who'd have thunk it?

Sunday, February 05, 2006 appears on NHK

I'm currently watching an NHK news special on international issues. They've been critical about how things are developing in America, particularly the reduction in privacy rights evident in actions such as subpoenaing library records, and unauthorized wiretaps. As evidence of the tarnishing of President Bush's image, they have been showing clips of "205," the satirical Flash animation that can be found at


I may have mentioned before that foreign news reports on the United States demonstrate that world opinion of the U.S. isn't nearly as good as people in the States seem to think.

Another example came a year ago, when Newsweek published, then retracted a story about how guards at Guantanamo defiled a copy of the Koran. The February 2, 2005 issue of the Japan edition of Newsweek had this headline: アメリカが死んだ日. Translated, this reads "The Day America Died." The equivalent international edition (1/31) headline was "America Leads...But is Anyone Following?" Both editions had a cover-story article by Andrew Moravcsic, entitled "Dream On, America," that spoke about "the world's rejection of the American way of life."

The U.S. edition of that issue ran a cover story about the Oscars. Moravcsic's article did not appear.


(Reference:, May 2005)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

John Lennon: Posthumous Sell-out?

Y'know, for all that Yoko Ono does to promote John Lennon as a "Working Class Hero," she seems all too willing to whore out his music for commercials here in Japan.

For example, here's a recent Fujifilm TV commercial. (QuickTime or RealPlayer required)

And here's a quote from a Japan Times article from last year:
As one of those handful of superstars who connect Japan directly to the world, Ono gains more automatic respect here, which means no one questions her motives the way some people do in the West. It would be interesting to see how non-Japanese would react to the appropriation of Lennon's songs and likeness for TV commercials.

Yoko herself appears in two of these ads. She even talks in the television commercial for Fuji Film, reciting in both English and Japanese a series of phrases beginning with the words "Photo is . . . " The commercial is filled with snapshots of John and Yoko demonstrating for peace, relaxing at home, even riding bicycles in Japan. The familiar strains of "Imagine" play in the background. Yoko keeps her mouth shut in the commercial for Gibraltar Life Insurance, the Japanese arm of Prudential Financial Services, but she's just as intimately connected. She and Lennon were wed in Gibraltar in 1969, and the commercial shows the couple standing in front of the famous Rock, which is Prudential's symbol. This time the song "Woman" is used.

Though it's become commonplace and generally acceptable for rock stars both old and new to lease their songs for advertising purposes -- Sir Paul now shills for Fidelity Investments and Lexus -- John Lennon's might raise eyebrows, owing to both the Working Class Hero and the utopian dreamer images.