Olympic destructionism

olympic stadium

The stadium is half gone. When I cycled past this morning, the cranes were already pecking at the rubble like vultures, the half-demolished stands hovering forlornly over them. Dust rising from the concrete guts.

They didn’t really need to get rid of it. The stadium itself was perfectly serviceable; the gym beneath, the best-kept secret in Tokyo. It was a relic of the 1960s, and the equipment embodied the training philosophy of the era: straight-forward, unapologetically hardcore. There was no padding on the machines, no TRX, no rodeo saddles for the “core”. No fucking Smith machine. Just rows of squat racks, barbells, kettlebells. It looked like the kind of place Arnie would train. No music: just the clatter of plates and heavy panting. The clientele was an incongruous mix of pensioners and powerlifters with belts and gum-guards. The middle-aged women stretched and did laps of the track, while the wiry older men did squats in their ‘80s-coloured spandex. One once coached me through the clean and jerk when he saw me squatting. There was even a separate room for Olympic lifts with a podium.

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A Constitutional Right to Consume Corn Syrup

Don’t deny me my right to diabetes

Just as cries of contempt are rising in New York over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban the serving of oversize sugary drinks, Japanese gourmands are getting ready to say goodbye to raw beef liver after it’s prohibited in restaurants from July.

Opposers of both bans have protested that they constitute an infringement of personal liberty and that the government has no right to interfere with their choice of what to eat.

I have to say I won’t miss raw liver. I have eaten it just once, drizzled in sesame oil and sprinkled with salt at a restaurant in Naka-Meguro, while still riding the euphoric carnivorous adventurism that had me gobbling up tripe, cartilage and blood after the deprivation of a misguided meatless decade. Try as I might, I couldn’t quite stomach the slimy, ferrous texture. But I’d still prefer it to a Big Gulp.

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Fukushima, one year on.

Nobuyoshi Ito in Iitate, Fukushima

The word “irradiated” has such visceral power. We imagine our guts made luminous by Ibaraki spinach, our cells scarred by Futaba beef, our hair and teeth breaking free of their moorings due to the fallout.

The invisibility of radiation polarizes reactions to it: people are either indifferent, or terrified. The former, noticing no changes in the environment around them, pay it no heed, apart from perhaps increased conscientiousness when grocery shopping. Continue reading “Fukushima, one year on.”

Decontamination: Mission Impossible

 

michael-sailer
Michael Sailer, by Louis Templado

The Japanese government’s intention to dispose of contaminated debris and topsoil from Fukushima in storage facilities in other prefectures is misguided and will not reduce health risks, according to nuclear waste disposal expert Michael Sailer, 58, who spoke at the Global Conference for a Nuclear-Free World held on Jan. 14-15 in Yokohama.

“It doesn’t matter whether you give a small number of high doses to a small number of individuals or you give the same total amount in low doses to a lot of individuals because the amount of fatalities by cancer would be the same,” said Sailer, who is the CEO of the Öko-Institut for Applied Ecology, a research and consultancy agency based in Berlin.

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Was Woodford tripped up by cultural misunderstandings?

To those who see Michael Woodford as a hero for blowing the whistle on a $1.5 billion accounting cover-up at Olympus Corp., the firm’s insistence that he was fired for failing to understand the Japanese business culture is absurd.

Yet to Chris Berthelsen, a Tokyo-based consultant who has researched the experience of foreign executives in Japan, there may be some weight in Olympus’s claim.
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The Unperturbed vs. The Doubters.

After a couple of months of almost mainlining the news on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, I turned off. I made a conscious choice to stop reading the updates in details and to not get paranoid or worried; there’s only so much energy you can expend before you become exhausted. At that point, you have to decide whether to commit to the issue or not- and I simply wasn’t worried enough about the impact of radiation on my own health to remain constantly abreast of the daily developments.
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