Sunday, August 24, 2008

アメリカと温暖化  America and Global Warming

It is slowly nearing the end of August. This summer has again been an ordeal of sweltering hot days, with extreme thunderstorms and flooding. And every year, it gets worse.


Japanese people are quite aware of extreme weather, and that it is connected to Global Warming. Yet Americans refuse to believe in Global Warming. Well Americans do understand that it is happening, but they will not look at how serious it is. If you discuss the increase of severe weather with Americans, they almost always say that it is a cycle, and will eventually return to normal. Many Americans feel that Global Warming may have some effect in 300 years or more, but not now.


I don’t think so. Well we all know that Japan is getting stronger severe storms, and more of them. Let us take a look at what is happening in America.


As a person who has grown up in America, I have noticed two great changes in weather patterns.

私は子供時代をアメリカで育って 、アメリカの天候型に二つの大きい変化を分かっています。

One is the American Midwestern states have been getting much wetter, and that the American southeast has been getting much drier. I have been watching this event ever week for the last 18 months, and the trend is unmistakable. It is happening.

I believe the cause is the city of Atlanta. Atlanta is a large sprawl of a city covering a wide area. What used to be forest and farmland has now become asphalt parking lots, and shopping malls with black tar roofs. This entire area has become a heat island. This heat island creates a huge mass of hot air, and this air mass pushes rain to the south in the Gulf of Mexico. The rain then swings around the Atlanta heat island and up the Mississippi valley, where it rains heavily in the Midwestern states.


Normally the American southeast is a very wet region. It is covered by many farms and forest. Now it is drying out. Last year, the Okefenokee Swamp, along the state border of Georgia and Florida, had major fires. It was too dry. This was a dangerous warning sign, yet it did not receive much coverage in the American media.


The city of Atlanta Georgia has only one major lake, Lake Lanier, as a water source. Year by year, its level its average level is dropping greatly. This year, water use restrictions, for example no swimming pools, car washing, or watering of lawns, were set by the city government. Yet the people of Atlanta complained loudly, and the restrictions were lifted.

ジョージア州アトランタ市の分水嶺で、一つの大きい湖しか水源地が有りません。毎年、標準の水平がだんだん低く成っています。今年アトランタ市政府は水利用制限を作りました。例えば、泳ぎ専用プール、芝生に水かけ、洗車は、全部禁止でした。しかし、市民の方が文句をいっぱい出して、市政府に制限を諦めさせました 。

But the lake level continues to drop.


In the Midwest, there is now flooding every year. In 1993 and this year 2008, the flooding was very serious. Those years were called 150-year floods, meaning we have floods like that only every 150 years. We have now had two floods like that only 13 years apart.

中央平原で、毎年洪水が有ります。1993年と2008年の洪水は特にひどかったです。アメリカでは、こう言う洪水は150年洪水と呼びます。その意味は、普段こう言う洪水が150年おきしか現れません。 現在は、13年おきです。

The basic weather patterns have changed for the North American continent. In my opinion, the American southeast is changing from natural forestland suitable for extensive agriculture, to a desert climate. Most of the people now living there will have to move. The American southeast has no infrastructure to move a large amount of water from one area to another. In any case, the entire region is short of water.


The American southwest on the other hand does have a very extensive infrastructure to move water. There are many canals and aqueducts. In fact, Los Angeles draws some of its water from aquifers as far as 1,500 kilometers away, from the Ogallala aquifer across the Rocky Mountains.


The American Southwest is natural desert. There are even plans to move water from the Great Lakes region, over 2,500 kilometers away. This is because water sources in the American southwest are being over stressed by the increasing population, and disappearing because of global warming.


Of course, the Great Lakes region is against the idea.


America has had a very luxurious life style since World War II. Everybody wants a nice big house with a swimming pool, and several cars to drive. Yet this is no longer possible. I have not been to Las Vegas, but I have seen photos. Many of the hotels have large pools for decoration only. Many others have large pools for swimming parties. And of course large fountains.


Las Vegas is natural deep desert. There is no water there naturally. In the near future, Las Vegas will have to drastically change its life style. As will all the people in Arizona and Los Angeles. Swimming pools at the very least will disappear.

ラスヴェガスは 自然に深い砂漠です。自然に、水は全然有りません。近い将来に、ラスヴェガスに住んでいる人達の生活は、大きい変化が有るでしょう。アリゾナ州とロサンゼルスの生活も変わります。少なくても、プールは無く成るでしょう。

The southeast in my opinion can still be saved from turning to desert. Roof gardens and water absorbent pavement will do a lot to help reduce the heat island effect of Atlanta. Even growing vines over parking lots could be a big help. But until the Atlanta heat island is reduced, rain will not naturally return to the American southeast. And then the southeast has a high possibility of turning into a desert that cannot be inhabited by human beings.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

何故私は大相撲を好き?  So why do I like Sumo?

When I first started watching Sumo, about 5 years ago, it simply seemed to be two guys going at each other.


Then if you watch about a week or so, you begin to see how the various techniques are used. And then you start to watch who will get Kachi-Koshi or not.


By this time, you are hooked.


I cannot think of a sport in America that so totally becomes your life. A Sumo Rikishi does nothing but Sumo for his entire professional life. When you are beginning in the lower ranks, you are totally focused on trying to rise in rank, and to serve your superiors. This is made easier by the fact that all Rikishi live together in communal style in a Beya.


Once you rise to the higher ranks, you are still attending special events, and meeting with sponsors. Sumo becomes a way of life, and how you act off the Dohyo is just as important.


It is one aspect of Japanese life that has been unaffected by contact with the West.

And it is a very equal sport. There are no weight divisions. The smallest Rikishi will meet the biggest in the Dohyo. Winning or losing depends solely on ability.


Sumo is a very visual sport, with much ceremony with ancient history. To watch the entrance ceremony of the Juryo and Makuuchi, with everyone in their Kessho Mawashi, and the special entrance of the Yokozuna, is a grand spectacle.


I recommend to everybody reading this, if you have never seen a Sumo tournament go. You will be pleasantly surprised.

私の読者たちへ、お相撲場所をまだ見た事がないのでしたら、どうぞ、行って 下さい。楽しいですよ!

大相撲名古屋場所 Sumo! The Nagoya Basho

Well, in my profile I have written that I am Sumo fan and that is true. So let me make a few comments on the recent Nagoya Basho.


OK, there are a few bright spots, but the first thing that jumps to mind is Yokozuna Asashoryu. 2 losses in the first two bouts and he is out. From rumors that I have read in the media, He hardly practiced at all. He seems to have been much more concerned that the summer tour be held in Mongolia, than his performance at the Nagoya Basho. I really think he should have practiced more instead of worrying about a summer tour in Mongolia. He should think about that after the Basho.

名古屋場所でいい事がいくつか有るけれど、まず横綱朝青龍を思い出します。最初の五つの取り組みで2回負けましたか?それで休場?新聞で読んだ噂で、あまり稽古をしなかったそうです。 名古屋場所よりモンゴル夏巡業の方に集中したみたいです。モンゴルの夏巡業を考えるより、まず名古屋場所の為に一生懸命稽古をした方がよかったと思います。場所が終わってから、夏巡業を考えるべきです。

To be a great Rikishi, it does not only mean that you have enough power to overwhelm your opponents. You must have dignity and bearing. In Japanese we call this Hinkaku. And here Asashoryu falls short.


Hakuho on the other hand, has the bearing of a great Yokozuna. He achieved Zenshyo, or a complete string of wins for the tournament. And his wins were all quality Sumo. One thing I like about Hakuho, once he has pushed his opponent over the Tawara, if he is able to, he will stop his opponents fall. That is extremely polite, and shows that he truly has Hinkaku. I think he is on the way to becoming a great Yokozuna.


Another example of awful Sumo was Russian born Wakanoho. When my wife and I watch Sumo on NHK, we listen to the English commentary. And the English commentators call him “Waka-no-no” for his style of Sumo. I remember his bout with Ama. In my mind, he did not beat Ama by any kind of Sumo. He merely fell on top of Ama, and got lucky. He does way too much Henka. And what is all that hand dance he does at the Tachi-ai? He has way too much ego, he should do much more basic practice. Another Rikishi famous for his Henka, Hokutoriki, shared the same dismal performance of 4 wins and 11 losses with Wakanoho. While Hokutoriki recently is not doing Henka, in the past he did it too much, so he never developed strong Sumo technique.


Breaking News: Russian born Sumo Rikishi Wakanoho is presently being questioned by police, over the fact that he was found to be in possession of marijuana. It is highly likely that he will expelled from Sumo, and deported from Japan. I understand that his Oyakata let him live alone outside the Beya. This is a mistake. I am not at all against Rikishi from other countries doing Sumo, I think it is great. But they must follow all the rules, and live in the same way as any other Rikishi. I do not think foreign Rikishi should have any special treatment. Special treatment only encourages egoism, and does not build great Rikishi.

ニュース速報:ロシア生まれ力士若ノ鵬は警視庁で大麻を手に入った事について質問されています。相撲から追い出されて、日本から永久追放に成るでしょう。親方は若ノ鵬の一人生活を許した事をニュースで聞きました。私の考えではこれが間違いです。私は外国人力士が日本の相撲に入る事を、全然反対では有りません。とても素晴しい事と思います。しかし、外国人力士は相撲世界のルールをすべて従って、日本人の力士と同じ生活をするべきです。 特別扱いはだめです。特別扱いで力士はうぬぼれて、立派な力士に育ちません。

Now let us look at the Ozeki. When the Nagoya Basho began, there was speculation that Kotooshu could possibly become a Yokozuna. Well his final result of 9 wins and 6 losses show us that his previous Yusho was, for the time at least, a one-time wonder.


Now Kaio and Chiyotaikai. Kaio’s performance was OK, and Chiyotaikai did get rid of his Kadoban. But I recall that Chiyotaikai did several Henka, and in one bout he lost, I remember him flying over the Tawara like an airplane. These two guys seem to be only able to alternate between Kyujyo and Kadoban, and then to scrape by with a bare minimum Kachi-koshi. Come on guys, maybe it is time to retire.


Kotomitsuki did well with 11 wins and 4 losses, but can he keep it up? The Ozeki are supposed to make life hard for the Yokozuna. But these days the Ozeki seem to be concerned with mere survival.


In the Sanyaku, Kisenosato and Kotoshogiku both ended up with Make-koshi. I think these guys have it in them, but they must find the fire in the belly.


Then we have Ama and Toyonoshima. Here is some excitement. I was particularly impressed by Toyonoshima’s win over Yokozuna Asashoryu. Way to go Toyonoshima! He certain to become Sekiwake, and next Basho we can look at two strong Sekiwake battling it out to become Ozeki.


In the Maegashira ranks, my favorite Rikishi, Homasho did OK at 9 wins and 6 losses, but his last win was by a Henka. That is not quality Sumo. I think he has the ability to get into Sanyaku, but no more Henka please. Toyohibiki got an exciting 10 wins. But I was also very impressed with the quality of Tochinoshin. Even though he only got 8 wins, I think we can expect more of him.


As for most the rest of the guys, well they need to work harder. But really, maybe it is time for some of the Ozeki to retire. This could fire up some of the Maegashira to go for Ozeki and Sanyaku, and make for more exciting Sumo.

他の力士の方にはもっと頑張ってほしいです。しかし、 ベテラン大関は引退する時間です。前頭の力士が大関や三役に成る可能性がはっきり見えたら、 頑張る動機を与えるかも知れません。

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Americanisms II アメリカの独特な英語










Lightening Strike



停電の事です。アメリカは雷撃でよく停電になります 。

Power Surge

電気の強い波です。アメリカで、電線に雷撃が よく当たります 。テレビとコンピューターは爆発します。電話からすごく不思議な音が鳴ります。そんな時に、人が電話中でしたら、電気ショックで死にます。同じように、雷雨の時はお風呂も危ないです。何故か、水道管は金属です。家の近くに雷撃が有りましたら、電波は金属水道管で流れて、お風呂に入っている人は電気ショックで死にます。



Flash Flood




The angels bowling in heaven


Sunday, August 10, 2008

太平洋戦争の終戦  The end of the Pacific war

It is now August in Japan. In August, we always remember the end of The Pacific War. As I mentioned in my self-introduction, I have made a study of military subjects since I was young. Well now I would like to write about World War II. Even today, there are many misconceptions about the war, particularly in America. Americans have a very romantic vision of the war. They think of it as the “Good War” one that was easy to understand. Also, Americans think that the United States won the war by itself.

日本は今8月です。8月は、太平洋戦争の終戦を思い出すまたは考える時です。このブログの自己紹介で、私は若い時から戦争の歴史を勉強していると書きました。それで、これから、第二次世界大戦の事について書きたいと思います。現在でも、普通の人はその戦争に対して分かっていない事がいっぱい有ります。アメリカの場合は、特にもっと沢山有ります。アメリカ人は、その戦争に対して、とてもロマンチックな考え方をしています。アメリカ人の考えで、“いい戦争”と理解しやすく、 アメリカは自分達だけでその戦争を勝ちましたと思っています。

And another thing, in the Pacific War, Americans believe the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the cause of Japan’s surrender.


These two beliefs are not true, and I will discuss them here.


First of all, America did not win World War II. The Soviet Union did. When America and Great Britain invaded the coast of France in Normandy in June of 1944, only some 20% of the German Army was in France. The other 80% was on the Eastern front facing the Russians. This did not change at all during the war in Europe, even up to the fall of Berlin.

第一に、アメリカは第二次世界大戦を勝っていません。それはソビエト連邦でした。1944年6月にアメリカ軍と英国軍がフランスのノルマンディー地区に上陸しました。その当時、ドイツ軍の2割はフランスにいました 。あとの8割は、ロシア前線で戦いました。この割合は、ベルリンの最後の戦いまで変わりませんでした。

True, some of the best units did fight against the Americans and British, but without the Soviet Army, the Anglo-American invasion of Europe would have been impossible.


Now did the dropping of two atomic weapons force Japan to surrender? No, I do not think so. Here again the primary reason for the Japanese government to surrender was the entry of the Soviet Union into the war.


Let us take a closer look at the situation of Japan in the summer of 1945. At the Casablanca conference of the Allied powers in 1943, President Roosevelt of the United States suddenly came up with the concept of “Unconditional Surrender”. I believe this was said mostly for the American people at home, I also think it was a major mistake.


In June of 1944, American forces invaded the island of Saipan. The Japanese fleet sailed to battle with the American fleet, but in the fight lost three aircraft carriers and some 600 aircraft. America only lost 123 planes. And all Imperial Japanese forces on Saipan were also lost.


So by the summer of 1945, the Japanese government knew that Japan could not win the war. And they also knew that America would soon invade Japan. However, the phrase “Unconditional Surrender” was very frightening. Many Japanese leaders and people were afraid it meant that Japanese might become slaves of the Americans, or to suffer some other terrible fate.


So it was felt that Japan would have to prepare for a final battle, that would force America to call off it’s offensive, and surrender could be negotiated. The Japanese military did know America’s invasion plans. There was to be an invasion of southern Kyushu in November 1945, followed by an invasion of the Kanto plain in March 1946. The American Kyushu plan was to secure a front line from Sendai city in Kagoshima prefecture, to Hyuga city in Miyazaki prefecture. Kagoshima bay was then to be used as a base for attacking the Kanto plain.


I believe that if America had invaded Kyushu, the invasion would have failed, and most of the US force destroyed. There are two reasons for my belief.


The first is that US planners at the time seriously under estimated the number of Japanese aircraft still existing. They felt that there were some 2,500 Japanese planes in the main Japanese islands. The true total was more than 12,000. A primary weapon of the Japanese military were the Tokko pilots. The first engagement would have seen some 2,300 planes fighting the American Naval Air forces, with some 825 Tokko pilots attacking the transports. And here was a difference from previous battles. When Tokko attacks had been used previously, they were against American warships. In the battle of Kyushu, the primary targets were changed to transport ships, full of infantry. As the American invasion fleet approached closer, some 2,000 more Tokko pilots were to attack. America had some 250 transport vessels for the invasion; I think the majority would have been sunk.


Once Americans had landed on Kyushu, there were many Japanese troops dug into very heavily fortified positions. In fact, Japanese troops in southern Kyushu outnumbered Americans. There were some 790,000 Japanese to fight 550,000 Americans. The terrain of Kyushu is very mountainous. Conventional military theory will tell us that to succeed, America would have needed something like 5 times the number of defenders.


The invasion would have failed. The plan of the Japanese government was to then negotiate a surrender with the American government, using a neutral country as an intermediary. The country chosen was the Soviet Union. It was chosen because it was the only large country still neutral to Japan. As we will see, it was a bad choice.


However, the Soviet Union attacked Japan in August of 1945. Soviet forces quickly overran the Japanese armies in Manchuria, Sakhalin, and the Kurile islands. In Manchuria, Japanese forces, despite being numerous, could not cope with the very strong Soviet tank forces. Japan had little experience at tank warfare in open terrain. The Soviet Union had just finished destroying the German tank armies, which had been the best in the world, until the Russians beat them. And the best Japanese forces had been withdrawn from Manchuria for action in the Philippines and the Home Islands.


I do think the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did shock the Japanese government, but they were not the primary reason for surrender. The primary reason was the entry of the Soviet Union into the war and the quick destruction of Japanese forces. Most Japanese troops in the Japanese Home Islands were concentrated in Kyushu and the Kanto plain. The Soviets would have had an easy time to invade Hokkaido.

広島と長崎に落とされた原爆は、その当時日本政府にショックを与えましたが、主要な降伏の理由ではなかった、と思います。主な理由は、ソビエト連邦との戦争に戦い 、ソビエトと戦っている日本軍が突然滅びる事でした。日本列島に居た日本軍は、ほとんど南九州と関東平野に集中していました。ソビエトは、北海道に侵略する事は簡単でした。

So why did America use the atomic bombs? Well, because they existed. America first began the construction of Atomic weapons out of fear that Hitler would make them. As the war went on, it was discovered that Germany was not really trying hard to build an atomic weapon, the research was very basic. However the American program was continued. The fact is, once a governmental program is begun, it is rarely canceled. By the middle of 1945, America had three atomic weapons. One was tested in the US in July 1945, and then two were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

どうして、アメリカは原爆を利用しましたか?やはり、持っていましたから。第二次世界大戦の始まりに、アメリカ政府はドイツのヒトラー政権が原爆を造る恐れが有りました。それで、アメリカは自分達で原爆開発を始めました。戦争中で、だんだんアメリカはドイツの研究がそんなに一生懸命ではないと分かりましたが、それでもアメリカの原爆創造研究は進みました。正直に言うと、有る政治活動を始めると、ほとんど中止に出来ません 。1945年夏までに、アメリカは原爆3個を造りました。一つは1945年7月にアメリカの砂漠でテストとして使われ、 あとの二つは広島と長崎に落とされました。

In fact, the entire air war against Japan was not necessary. When war began, there were two arguments on how to proceed. General Mac Arthur, of the US Army, argued for an advance through New Guinea to the Philippines. Admiral Nimitz of the Navy wanted to attack Japanese island bases in the central Pacific, and isolate Japan from resources in Southeast Asia. Both plans had political backers, so both were done. But it was the Navy’s plan that was correct. Frankly, the Army was not very necessary in the Pacific war, it was a Naval conflict.


The entire US Army air campaign that fire bombed Japanese cities was also not necessary. United States Navy submarines had sunk most of Japan’s merchant ships by 1944, so Japanese industry was mostly non functional by 1945. Japanese cities were bombed because America had the forces to do so, as German cities had been bombed. By the way, American and British air forces also failed to destroy German industry. Production of aircraft in Germany peaked in 1944, despite the bombing.


I am not trying to say here that Americans are bad people. Far from it, in general, Americans are a very kind and generous people. However, when people build a weapons system, there will be strong pressure to use it. And here is where all people of the world must be careful.


In one way it really was a good war for America. A lot of US troops were killed. Yet no country bombed American cities, no country invaded the United States. I have written that the Soviet Union won the war. Yet 25 million Soviets died, and the most productive industrial and agricultural areas of the Soviet Union were devastated. For a long time after the war, the American economy dominated the world. That is now changing, and this too is difficult for Americans to understand.


It is my feeling that Japan and America came to war by accident, basically over the question of who would control China. Well neither country does. Wars are terrible things, and really do not solve anything.
However, both of our countries have been good friends for the last 63 years, and I hope that it will continue.


Friday, August 1, 2008

アメリカの地名  American place names

Today, I would like to talk about American place names. There are several main sources for the names of American towns and cities. They are, English, French, Spanish, and Indian.


On the Eastern coast, Great Britain eventually prevailed over Holland and Sweden and formed the original 13 colonies. So most of the town names in this area have an English flavor. Boston is named for a town in Lincolnshire England. In the state of Virginia, we have Richmond and Norfolk; also both names come from towns in England. The city of New York was named for the English Duke of York.


Now let us cross the Appalachian mountain range. Here we can find many towns with French names. The French Empire at one time ran all the way from Quebec in Canada to New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi river.


Detroit, Saint Louis, and New Orleans are all cities founded by the French. I grew up in the state of Wisconsin, and today there are many small towns such as Prairie du Chien, and Trois Rivieres, places originally named by the French.


Now when we come to the American southwest, we find many Spanish names. The Spanish established many churches along lines of communication, where travelers could find shelter during their journey. They were named for Saints, so we have San Francisco and San Diego. Of course Los Angeles is also of Spanish origin.

America, for the Europeans who settled there, was a new land, sometimes the founders of towns borrowed names from ancient European civilizations. So we have Palmyra Wisconsin, (from an ancient Syrian city) a Cairo Illinois, and Memphis Tennessee. (From the Egyptian cities)


Today Palmyra Wisconsin has a population of less than two thousand; it never fulfilled the hopes of its founders. Cairo Illinois used to be an important town in the steamboat era, as it lies where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers join. It was also a very important base for the northern army in the American Civil war. Since that time it has declined to a few thousand people.


But I am sure many music lovers know Memphis Tennessee as the home of Elvis Presley, and a center of jazz.


Of course, not all city names come from white Europeans settlers. Many come from the Indians who lived there before the white people came. This has given us places like Chicago, named after a foul smelling plant, Milwaukee, or beautiful place in the local Indian language, and Seattle, named after a local Indian chief.


Just as America is a land of many peoples, we can see this effect in the names of American towns and cities. It is truly a mishmash of cultures.


Mishmash 混ぜ物。