Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Presidential Election - BOLD Predictions

Bold predictions from a bold man. 

Bold prediction #1:
Obama picks John Edwards to be his running mate - John Edwards has everything Obama lacks to win the presidency.  He's southern, populist, and white.  What about Hillary Clinton?  She's southern, populist, white, AND a woman.  True, but she made the cardinal mistake of politics:  asking to be on the ticket.  Hillary should have played hard to get. Real prom queens don't ask to go to the ball.   John Edwards is the real prom queen.

Bold prediction #2:
McCain picks Mike Huckabee to be his running mate - The only thing older than a John McCain is old joke is John McCain.  John McCain is no Bob Dole, but he needs to do two things: 
  1. Energize the evangelical right 
  2. Not look like a raving lunatic
... which is a hard thing to do, but Mike Huckabee seems to pull it off. 

Bold prediction #3:

Latin voters are the most important demographic in the election - Millions of spanish speaking voters will have to decide "who do I hate more.  The young black guy, or the old white guy"?  Neither candidate really speaks to the Latin voter, which is significant because they may swing electorate heavy states such as Florida, New Jersey, and Colorado.  Expect Obama and McCain to be making regular appearances on Telemundo's "Sabado Gigante".  Latin voters will split more or less evenly between the two candidates.

Bold prediction #4:
Obama wins in a landslide - Democratic turnout will be the highest in history fueled by a surge in new and black voters.  Republican turnout will be at a 20 year low.  "Values"-based Republican voters will support McCain but come election day, they will not show up to vote.  Obama takes the coastal states, while McCain struggles to hold leads in the midwest.  McCain takes Florida and Ohio by a nose but Obama takes Pennsylvania, Michigan, and to everyone's surprise Texas!  Smaller midwestern states are split 70-30 to McCain, but Obama's dominance in the electorate heavy states give him a resounding victory.

BOLD!!!!!  Goddamnit!!  I should sell steak sauce!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tokyo and Beijing and the Search for 'Normalcy'

Interesting article in today's WSJ and NYTimes today.  China called upon Japan to airlift blankets and tents to earthquake riddled Sichuan provence. 

Tokyo's bright idea - "Let's airlift them with a bunch of Japanese military planes!"
Beijing actually acquiesced until today, when they went "Dude!  Did you forget about WWII?"

So, long story short - Japan is now going to send aid using chartered civilian aircrafts instead.  An interesting situation because there are two ways you can look at it: 
  1. The Japanese are insensitive for wanting to help China out using a bunch of airplanes reminiscent of the ones that it used against them 70 years ago. 
  2. The Chinese are stubborn for holding a 70 year grudge considering the magnitude of the situation and Japan's good intentions
both views are correct and it just goes to show that Beijing and Tokyo still have a long way to go before there's a sense of 'normalcy' between the two capitals.  Giving aid to a earthquake torn region should not be a diplomatic exercise the history of which spans a the great part of the 20th century.  Sadly, as the diplomats argue the refugees of Sichuan suffer.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Life Update: Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo, Shanghai

The good thing about consulting is that you're never in one place and you live out of a hotel room.  The bad thing about consulting is that you're never in one place and you live out of a hotel room. I got to say though, it's been more good than bad.   I've been in four cities these past four weeks.  I work out of an office in Manila during the week and weekends I'm free to roam.  Each time I think there's no surprises left in life, the universe proves me wrong. 

Some reflections, sorted by city:

Hong Kong
If you think Chinatown in New York is great, check out Hong Kong!!!  Best "beef flied lice" ever!!!!  Seriously though, I've never had a bad meal in HK and dim sum is worth the price of admission.  HK is a banker town and if you hang with expats you find yourself talking finance in the night club.  Girls seem to like it though, which is why when they ask me what I do for a living I tell them "bank teller".  Then, they usually go away - you know - because they're so impressed.

You spell Filipino with an 'F' when you talk about the people.  You spell Philippine with a 'Ph' when you talk about the country.  It's an arbitrary western convention indicative of a country whose history is riddled with arbitrary western influence.  Sometimes, like when I see Filipinos party I think "Spanish" and other times like when I go to the mall I think "American" and other times I think "WHAAA"?  I read in a book that the Filipinos are disarmingly western but Asian at their core.  This gave me a whole new understanding of the Filipinos I've known over the years. I'm enjoying myself working in this city and I think it's because people here understand my what I'm all about.  In Japan, they identify me as "American".  In America it's "Japanese dash American" (Japanese-American).  In the Philippines, however I'm "Japanese slash American" (Japanese/American) and I love that. 

It's good to be in my second home.  Beautiful weather to walk around.  I'm just sad however to have missed the cherry blossoms.  Highlight of the weekend.  I saw a jogger near my hotel in Ebisu.  From the waist down he looked like a regular jogger with running sneakers and mesh shorts.  From the waist up however, dude was wearing a puffy black jacket and had his hair done up like one of those guys from L'arc en ciel. 

Run Forrest.  Run.

As of April Japanese passport holders can enter China for 15 days without a visa.  As a Japanese citizen it's not my place to question why I am allowed effortless entry into mainland China while millions upon millions of foreign born Chinese need to wait in long-forming lines to obtain a visa.  It is my duty however to rub it in.  "IN YO' FACE ABC"!!!!!  But I digress....  As my Shanghainese friend Xin pointed out, it's a sign of diplomacy and friendship - don't push it Jap boy.  I can't help it though.  The irony!!!!  Excuse me, I need to go buy a trucker hat with a catch phrase.

I actually didn't get much of an opportunity to check out Shanghai because mostly I was working for the weekend, but I did enjoy myself immensely there.  I hung out in the expat crowd.  The highlight of the weekend came when I went to a bar aptly named "Abbey Road" that featured - and I am not making this up - a 50's era costumed Beatles cover-band made of Japanese musicians with mod haircuts.  Suffice to say as a hardcore Beatles fan also Japanese with a neo-mod haircut, my mind was blown.

What strikes you about Shanghai is how new everything is.  All the things you've heard about Shanghai are true.  The buildings are futuristic and you get the sense of a new age.  But with newness comes a price.  Tall skyscrapers and concrete jungles make a place feel cold and unfriendly - a fact the Shanghainese are starting to realize.  My expat friends tell me there are less slash and build operations going on.  More and more, people are refurbishing old homes and coming to grips with what they are losing to modernization.