Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama 3; McCain 0

Did you watch the third presidential debate? What the hell is wrong with John McCain? I think he needs an ambulance.

He might have had a chance in the debate if he had spent more time answering the questions being asked of him. Instead he verbally wandered around like Hansel and/or Gretel, making goofy allusions to Nancy Reagan, JFK, Herbert Hoover, the Great Depression and some mythical plumber named Joe (who somehow makes $250,000 a year). His eyes swam as if he was receiving a hidden opiate drip. And he made the face pictured above.

I can't help but think McCain doesn't really want to be president. He wants to take a nap. Let's get this election over with so he can retire with his last shred of dignity intact.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Right-Wing Rats Jumping Ship

It's all the rage to distance yourself from John McCain these days. Everyone's doing it. Even the people you most expect to find defending the hapless geezer -- including the "big Bills," O'Reilly and Kristol -- have seen the bootlessness of their own positions, and are now lining up to have a shot at the Dunk a POW tank. Whether its down to his economic ineptitude, his laughable VP pick or his inability to raise his arms over his head, everyone finds something to dislike in John McCain.

And so can you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Manager of Burning Mangakisa Cut Fire Alarm

A development in the story of one man's failed attempt to say "goodbye, cruel world," about which I blogged one week ago:

Some blame now apparently rests on the shoulders of the elderly mangakisa employee who, upon hearing the fire warning, assumed it was a false alarm and turned off the system.

I don't want this to take away from my thesis about Japan's tendency toward ultimately inconvenient suicide methods (nor from the fact that Ogawa Kazuhiro put dozens of people in needless danger with his own attempt to escape his life), but it seems only fair of me to give appropriately thorough coverage of the story's development.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Man Kills 15 Instead of Self

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If Japan is going to continue to be the world leader in annual suicides, then people have to stop being so careless about how they off themselves. Early Tuesday morning, a man started a fire in Osaka with the intention of killing himself. Instead, he survived and the fire killed fifteen other people.

[the story]

Ogawa Kazuhiro allegedly became "tired of life" and set fire to a newspaper in his private room at a mangakisa called Cats. Then, as his room filled with smoke, he claims he became frightened and fled the scene. Meanwhile, fifteen people Mr. Ogawa had probably never met before (and who were probably sleeping), died from carbon monoxide poisoning and burns.

English news articles vary in their description of the business where this crime took place, with labels ranging from "video rental shop" to "adult video theater." From the description I saw on the TV news here this evening, Cats is (or was, until its fiery baptism) a relatively typical Japanese comic/video/relaxation center. These mangakisa are routinely used as hotels by businessmen, as they tend to offer cheap overnight rates and often have private rooms with comfy reclining chairs. They also tend to be needlessly labyrinthine, and allow their guests to smoke, making for some real grand fire hazards.

I patronized a mangakisa several times during my first six months in Japan, when I had no internet connection at home. But I never tried the private room type, so when I went, I had to breathe the secondhand smoke of everyone around my while I checked my email and read the news. I guess I should count my blessings; at least I didn't die there.

Mr. Ogawa has been arrested on charges of arson and manslaughter.