Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Rising Sun Never Sleeps, or Sets, or something

In 1941, Japan, with rather insane delusions of grandeur, decided to attack the United States. As we had a gazillion times the industrial capacity of Japan, the numbers eventually caught up with them. They also found it a bit difficult to occupy every stinking island in the Pacific, like so many other forces that have found occupation impossible. (yet this lesson remains unlearned somehow, most recently in Iraq)

So they lost. But they never gave up.

Wave after wave continues to assault our shores to this day. Oh, sure, at first the devastating defeat took it's toll on their output, and the best they could muster was the export of millions of cheaply made tin toys, the sharp edges of which were responsible for merely thousands and thousands of sliced American youths' fingers. But they got better.

The 50s turned into the 60s and the siege took a more sinister turn with the export of the transistor radio, and we became slaves to our media. Great big chunks of our sanity began to fall off as there was no longer any escape. Not the woods, Not the beach, Certainly not the subway. Sonic frazzlement became the order to this day, the latest circuit board wizardry being responsible for the chirp chirp of walkie talkie telephony, not to mention the jolting launches of hideously mechanized ringtone versions of Für Elise whenever someone's "bud" wants to know "are you, like, busy or something"?

Having learned how to distract us, in the 70s they went for the throat, in the forms of Datsun (Nissan, for you younger folk) and Toyota. Entire industrial cities were laid waste, as the sluggish American auto industry struggled to respond to the Toyota Celica GT with such immortal lines as the Chevy Vega, Chevette, the AMC Gremlin, and the explosiveness that was the Ford Pinto.

The cat was out of the bag, then, as these altered relative perceptions of American and Japanese quality infiltrated the home electronics industry, and we bought up millions and millions of Sony VCRs and Hitachi TVs and Panasonic stereos. And while we were listening and watching and barbecuing on the Hibachi, the Japanese were working 15 hours a day coming up with their latest weapon.

Nintendo. Perhaps the greatest assault on American productivity ever invented. Its reach is so profound, its hold on Americans young and old so tenacious that it remains, with it's cousin, the Sony Playstation, a principal weapon for the 80s, 90s and 00s. Sleepless, half-blind, Vitamin D deprived and plagued with tendonitis, we are in poor array to withstand this perennial assault. Oh, sure, there were the productivity gains hatched from the American led PC revolution, a significant insurgency, but the mindlessness of "gaming" appears to have weathered that storm, as folks knock each other to the floor to get PSIIIs, not laptops.

Not that the Japanese are resting on their laurels. In the never-ending crusade to sap American productivity, there is always another front. For their latest trick, they have turned our weapon on ourselves. Dell, in the 70s, started to publish an old number game by the dopey name "Number Place". Nobody paid much attention to it here, but it gained some play in Japan. No doubt fully appreciating the addictiveness of this little game, they renamed it with a cute Japanese name and sent it back here in 2005, what the hell? Sudoku. More billions of American work hours down the tubes.

It never ends.


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