smartacus comments

Posted in: Luxury hotel’s month-long stay plan lets you live Yokohama life with amazing twist See in context

I like living in in Tokyo. I think it is one of the best cities in the world for dining out. But if I had to choose another city in Japan, my top three would be Yokohama, Kobe or Fukuoka.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo area governors eye extension of state of emergency by 2 weeks See in context

I doubt an extra two weeks will make any difference to the number of infections in Tokyo. And it's only two weeks so that people can go out and have hanami parties in parks, which they missed out on last year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Robert Kennedy confronts communist hecklers at Waseda University in 1962 See in context

I think Robert Kennedy changed after his brother's assassination and became much more likeable and appealing to blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. He made some profound speeches and had a huge appeal in 1968. I think if he had lived, he would have defeated Nixon in the 1968 presidential race and been a great president. Imagine how different the world would have been in the late 1960s and 1970s if he ad been president.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: 2 American men wanted for aiding Ghosn's escape arrive in Japan See in context

Well, I hope they had a chance to spend some of their $1.3 million because they’ll probably be spending the next few years in Japan. I’ll bet the elder Taylor was so pleased with himself when Ghosn escaped. I can just picture him, Ghosn and the other planners after the escape making fun of how lax Japanese immigration was. I doubt Taylor will be laughing now. Anyway, mercenaries take their chances and know a plan can fall apart. Why he decided to return and live in America, where he knew he could be arrested, I’ll never know.

Meanwhile, Ghosn lives in luxury in Beirut, while the Taylors are in Japan, Greg Kelly’s trial continues and those four men in Turkey are in jail. Still, he’s a prisoner himself, albeit in a luxury condo. But he can’t leave Lebanon, the French are investigating him for tax irregularities and he still has that Interpol red notice stapled to his name for the rest of his life.

Having said all that, I still don’t think what Ghosn did merited this farce. If he was doing something dodgy, the Nissan board should have just removed him. A lot of people would have been spared considerable grief.

23 ( +35 / -12 )

Posted in: TV series 'Frasier' latest '90s hit to get a revival See in context

"Frasier" is one of my all-time favorite series and I have all 11 seasons on DVD. But like so many great shows of the past (and some movies, too), I don't think the magic can be recreated in a reboot, especially after 17 years. The characters will have aged and we won't have seen them while they were aging. The chemistry won't be there anymore.

I think when a great series ends, that's it. If you collect TV series as I do, they become a gift in time, left to the fans by the cast. We age but they never will, except during the length of the series. Even when the stars pass away, they remain with us forever as loved them. That's the way I like to remember them.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: What are some past TV shows that could no longer be aired because they would be considered politically incorrect? See in context

Benny Hill, even though I have most of his shows on DVD and I still find his ribald humor funny. All in the Family would probably not be acceptable. If you look at a lot of old TV shows (and movies), in the context of when they were made and the cultural norms of the time, then some of them are still watchable, despite the outdated fashion, technology, customs and so on. I think there are more old movies than TV shows that would be considered unacceptable today.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Posted in: If a decision is made to cancel the Tokyo Olympics, how, when and where will the announcement be made public and who do you think will make it? See in context

The IOC will make the announcement, as they did last year when they announce the postponement. Bach may do it at a press conference in Lausanne with a video link to Tokyo where the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee will be on hand.

As for when, since the torch relay is scheduled to start on March 25, it has to be before then, no later than a week before.

On the other hand, I think they'll move heaven and earth to have the games. All athletes and their support staff will have to be vaccinated, as will IOC officials, media, Japanese volunteers, athletes village workers and bus drivers etc who will take the athletes to and from their bubble to the event venues. No fans will be allowed at the events.

It's ridiculous but it is doable.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Melbourne enters snap 5-day lockdown over virus; spectators barred from Australian Open See in context

Lockdown, open up, lockdown, open up. It guts the economy, angers people and is demoralizing.

Every single problem Australia has had with managing the virus in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth since last August can be summed up with one word: quarantine. They haven't been able to get it right.

I think Australia has done a terrific job and I am envious when I see people going about and enjoying a relatively normal life but the economy is being hammered with every lockdown. I think when the Jobkeeper program ends (in March, I believe?), we'll get a better idea of the true economic fallout and unemployment.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan’s households, firms continue to hoard cash as pandemic persists See in context

I've been trying to save money, too, though I wouldn't call it hoarding. But when the pandemic is over, like most people, I'm going to spend spend, spend. I'll travel and buy things that I need for my apartment, dine out more. Saving now will be good for the economy later.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan to set guidelines for flying car tests by March 2022 See in context

I keep thinking of the Jetsons, too. I can't even imagine privately-owned flying cars becoming popular. The potential for accidents in the sky and for people and property on the ground is too immense to imagine. Fortunately, I won't see it in my lifetime.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Which music from the past 70 years do you think people will still be listening to 100 years from now? See in context

Interesting question. I'd say music historians in 2021 will be interested in the birth of rock 'n' roll. I think music of the groups from the 1960s have stood the test of time -- the Beatles, Rolling Stones, to name just two. I'd also imagine jazz, R&B will still be popular. Plus maybe Frank Sinatra, and will Bing be still crooning "White Christmas" in 2021?

I wonder what music from 1921 we would be listening to today if there had been recording technology then.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Melania didn't 'care,' but Jill Biden wants to show she does See in context

I always thought Melania Trump was like an iceberg. Body language reveals so much about her. I can't count the number of times she looked uncomfortable holding Trump's hand and sometimes she pulled her hand away when he tried to hold her hand.

But what really appalled me was the expletive outburst she came out with about not wanting to decorate the White House for Christmas... as if she has do the decorating herself.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Looking back at Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's first five months in office, do you miss former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? See in context

I do miss Abe a little bit. Although he didn't achieve much domestically, he did give Japan a face on the international stage over five years after a period of revolving door PMs. Even my relatives and friends overseas knew who the Japanese prime minister was. And at least Abe could smile. I don't think I have ever seen Suga smile. He is a non-entity.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 734 coronavirus cases; nationwide tally 2,574 See in context


I was surprised at the large number of women being infected, also. The number of women infected has been higher than men many times in January. I don't believe women go to izakaya as much as men do.

I think they go out a lot together for afternoon teas, lunches and wine bars at night. Maybe that's where they are getting infected.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Posted in: Boarded-up stores, shuttered restaurants, bars and coffee shops and empty office towers: COVID-19 has emptied many city centers around the world as company employees work remotely. Is this a good thing for any city? What are some ways to bring economic activity and "buzz" back to business districts in the post-coronavirus era? See in context

The problem will take of itself once the coronavirus is eliminated. A year or two after it is gone, people will get bored with working from home, not talking to anyone all day except by Zoom or email. Many will want to go back to the office for a few days a week. Some are happy teleworking, yes, but the social interaction, deskside chats and spontaneous exchange of ideas can’t be done online.

Returning to the office has already begun in central business districts in Australian cities.  Small businesses like coffee shops, bars, etc need that breakfast, lunch and after-work drink trade. They are an integral part of a business district’s economy

City centers are the heart of every city in the world. It is depressing when they look like ghost towns, just like empty hotel lobbies or airport terminals.

One thing big companies (or building owners) could do to attract employees back to the office is to offer a work environment they can’t get at home, something more than just a place to send and receive emails and have meetings. Companies could tie up with sports clubs to have small gyms in the building; each floor could have a coffee bar, or relaxation corner; even a recreation center for taking breaks. Possibly a small day care center also for employees with young children.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Perth in lockdown, ending Australia's 2-week run without COVID-19 See in context

I think it's an overreaction for just one case but to order a whole city into lockdown with just half a day's notice is absurd. Every supermarket shelf will be stripped bare before I finish typing this. At least, give the city a day to prepare.

Also, it gives businesses no chance to prepare to go back to remote working, and guts the retail and restaurant trade.

Australia has handled the virus well but over the past two months, there have been sudden lockdowns in Sydney, Brisbane and one over a false alarm in Adelaide.

You keep going into lockdown, then open up, lock down again, open up, lock down. The economy can't recover, and in Australia's case, when the Jobkeeper program ends, the true damage to the economy will be seen.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Posted in: Only 37% of firms met Japan gov't target of cutting commuters by 70% See in context

White collar workers can work remotely but I would say they are not the majority of a workforce in Japan (or any country). Not all those commuters we see on trains every day are going to offices. I could easily name 20-30 occupations that require employees to be at their workplace that are not white-collar jobs. And the only way to get to and from their workplaces is by train (or bus in some cases).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: TV news anchors wearing masks on camera ignites discussion See in context

I don't see any need for news presenters to wear masks if they are by themselves. If they are with a co-presenter, then yes.

And Jeff Lee, TV programs can't be broadcast remotely. You do need crew behind the camera, such as sound technicians and engineers, lighting, camera men/women, directors and even make-up people. Reporters can report remotely, sure, but TV stations need on-site staff.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Posted in: In Tokyo, some drink on despite gov't request for bars to close at 8 p.m. See in context

I bet a lot of those exclusive members-only bars/clubs are Ginza have stayed open, too. The ones with the 100,000-yen bottles of whiskey where politicians and billionaires hang out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 1,592 new coronavirus cases; nationwide tally 5,759 See in context

The number of children under 20, especially under 10, being infected recently has been rising at an alarming level. I doubt they getting infected at school. People are going home and infecting their family members.

Another number that intrigues me is the number of women infected. The story says 803 men and 789 women. I can understand the men who go drinking at izakayas but where are the women getting infected?

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Posted in: ¥742 bil in reserve funds added to subsidies for restaurants See in context

Where does all this money come from? And to think that Foreign Minister Motegi has been in South America and Africa the last 10 days pledging billions of dollars in loans and grants just so Japan can try to counter China's influence in those regions. The government's money printing press must be working around the clock.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: When do you think a decision will be made on whether or not to cancel the Tokyo Olympics? See in context

Since the torch relay is scheduled to begin on March 25, a final decision will have to be made before then. My guess is there will be an announcement in the first week of March, probably an Olympics with no overseas fans. But I don't know how the various national Olympic committees will feel about it.

The Australian Open tennis in Melbourne will be an interesting example of whether a tournament can work, Around 1,100 players and their support staff are in a bubble for three weeks, getting regularly tested. Fan capacity will be limited and no international spectators.

Maybe the Tokyo Olympics will be like that.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Hiroshima to conduct PCR tests for 800,000 to battle COVID-19 See in context

I agree with one of the readers above. It's a great thing to test so many but what if there is a huge number of positives, like several thousands or more? Does Hiroshima have enough hospital beds or quarantine facilities? Or will they just be told to stay home for two weeks?

In any case, it is a good decision. I wish Tokyo and Yokohama would at least test 20,000 a day, including weekends and holidays.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Posted in: Support for Olympics hits new low in Japan: poll See in context

Since the torch relay is scheduled to start on March 25, the decision to cancel will have to be made before then, just as it was last year when they postponed the Games. But the IOC makes decision, not the Japanese government. So I imagine there are a lot of phone calls going back and forth between the IOC chief Thomas Bach, the Japan Olympic Committee and Prime Minister Suga. They'll probably tell Koike after the decision is made. I remember how livid she was when they shifted the marathon to Sapporo without informing her in advance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: An isolated Trump faces looming impeachment threat See in context

I despise Trump but trying to impeach him with only 10 days before he leaves office is petty by the Democrats. Trump's not going to launch a war, if that's what they are worried about. There is a chain of command for launching nuclear missiles and no one would obey such an order at this point. Trump will probably vacate the White House early and head to Florida later this week.

More importantly, the Democrats need the Senate to confirm Biden's cabinet nominees before Jan 20. Not one of his 15 nominees has been confirmed or even questioned. He runs the risk of taking office without a cabinet. Instead of wasting time on impeaching Trump, the Senate needs to confirm the incoming cabinet.

Besides all of that, I was thinking that the White House must be an eerie place these days. Who is still there? Mainly junior aides and staffers plus the hundreds of chefs, valets, custodial staff who work there, no matter who is president. I bet those people have some interesting stories they could tell about all the presidents they have seen over the years.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Posted in: Suga to declare state of emergency for Tokyo, 3 neighboring prefectures on Thursday night until Feb 7 See in context

I hate to be negative but I don't think this state of emergency is going to stop infection numbers rising. It seems very weak with no teeth.

What happens if, on Feb 7, Tokyo is averaging 3,000 cases a day (and I fervently hope not)? Is there a plan B? A curfew perhaps? But that can't be legally be done. Like most people, I'm doing all I can to avoid being infected or infecting others (if I am asymptomatic). But I honestly don't know what more I can do and I know there are lot of people like me who are exasperated to see the numbers going up.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 1,278 new coronavirus cases; nationwide tally 4,883 See in context

The only encouraging number I see in this story is for Hokkaido. The number of infections there finally seems to be on a downward trend.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Ghosn asks why Japanese don't come and question him in Lebanon See in context

He doesn't seem too concerned about being questioned by French investigators. He's either completely innocent or he's covered his tracks well. Either way, he's a smart cookie and I wouldn't like to be in his bad books. People like that have a ruthless side to them as well.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 1,278 new coronavirus cases; nationwide tally 4,883 See in context

I don't think a state of emergency is going to have much of an effect. The virus is too widespread. But what appalls me are the numbers of infected cases who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. I bet these age groups don't watch news on TV, their mobile phones or read papers. But they probably know that if they do get the virus, it'll go away after about two weeks, which is true.

The figure that concerns me the most is the number o seriously ill people requiring hospitalization. That number is going up.

In any case, we have no choice but to try an SOE again. But I'm glad schools won't be closed. Children need to be in the classroom with their classmates. Young kids at home can't pay attention online for very long and teens tend to lose interest, too. And for parents trying to work at home, it's a nightmare, especially if there aren't computers or work spaces in a 2LDK.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Posted in: Back in 2001, what technical advancements did you think the world would have achieved by 2021 but which haven't happened? See in context

I thought medical science would have eliminated cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, spinal injuries and so on. I also thought plane travel would be faster, like being able to fly from Tokyo to London or New York in 5-6 hours.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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