The Tragedy of Moon Jae-in

A couple of months ago, I attended a talk given by Yokota Takuya at a small liberal arts college about an hour northeast of Tokyo. Mr. Yokota’s name is probably unfamiliar to many in the Western hemisphere, but he is very well-known in Japan. In 1977, his older sister, Megumi, was abducted from Niigata, on … Read more

Lessons Drawn from the Japanese Martyrs

Christianity came to Japan in 1549. The Land of the Rising Sun must have been ready to hear the good news when St Francis Xavier first set foot on its shores. By the time he left, just two years later, there were three thousand Japanese Christians. Over the next forty years that number increased to … Read more

Tea and Christianity

Francis Xavier’s feast day is December 3. For those of us who love our afternoon tea, it is a feast we should well note. For the world’s most civilized habit owes a huge debt of gratitude to Xavier and his Jesuit missionaries who traveled to Japan in 1549. Now, to properly appreciate this story, you … Read more

Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?

On Dec. 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan. A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor. Said ex-President Herbert Hoover, Republican statesman of the day, “We … Read more

Congress, Governors Nix Obama’s High-Speed Trains

Dead. Kaput. Through. Finished. Washed up. Gone-zo. That, I think, is a fair description of the Obama administration’s attempt to build high-speed rail lines across America. It hasn’t failed because of a lack of willingness to pony up money. The Obama Democrats’ February 2009 stimulus package included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects. The Democratic … Read more

Friday Free-for-All: April 1

Time for a few Friday morning links: Could the 70 small metal books recently discovered in Jordan turn out to be the biggest find for Christian history since the Dead Sea Scrolls? An elderly Belgian couple opts for euthanasia together rather than face death separately. In the wake of Chernobyl, “there were many media reports … Read more

Staying behind at Fukushima

The New York Times gives readers a glimpse of what lies in store for the 50 anonymous men who have stayed behind at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan to help contain the damage from the reactor shutdowns: They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights, listening for … Read more

Should we reconsider nuclear power?

Along with all the other troubling reports out of Japan, Americans seem to be keeping a particularly close eye on updates about the nation’s nuclear power plants, two of which were disabled in the immediate wake of the disaster. Joe Lieberman, among others, has suggested we “quickly put the brakes on” nuclear power in this … Read more

Tragedy in Japan

I know we have all been riveted, and horrified, by the news coming out of Japan this weekend in the wake of Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami. Below is just a sampling of some of the stories, images, and ways to help out there on the Web right now: Above, a before-and-after Google Earth image … Read more

Who Are You Calling “Anti-Science”?

In 1939, Albert Einstein penned a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt. The letter was instigated, and largely written, by Hungarian immigrant and physicist Leo Szilard, who was concerned with the technological aims of the Nazi regime. After hearing the eminent British physicist Sir Ernest Rutherford dismiss the idea of obtaining useful energy from nuclear reactions, … Read more

Why doesn’t America get on board with trains?

I have a fascination with America’s train system — maybe because it stinks, and I can’t figure out exactly why this country still has such an antiquated and ineffective passenger railway. Whether it’s the regional trains or Amtrak, they’re all bad. Amtrak’s Acela trains, which carry people up and down the northeast corridor — our … Read more

The Incredible, Vanishing Japanese

The Japanese are in the mist of a serious population decline, with one estimate claiming the citizenry shrank by 75,000 in 2009, an increase of almost 150% from the year prior. As the Japan Times noted in a 2010 editorial: The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates that Japan’s population will dip … Read more

‘Assembling the Global Baby’

There’s not a whole lot to say about this Wall Street Journal article on the rise of “global surrogacy” — a new industry that uses “an international network of surrogate mothers and egg and sperm donors . . . to produce children on the cheap and outside the reach of restrictive laws.” Or, rather, there … Read more

Murder Mystery Solved?

You’ve probably seen stories about the collapse of the honey bee colonies in the United States over the past few years. Somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent have disappeared and scientists have been frantically trying to discover why since thriving bee colonies are vital to agriculture. Experts theorized about causes… pesticides, perhaps? But according … Read more

Holy St. Michael, Batman!

Sorry, that’s a silly title.  I was blown away by this drawing by Daniel Mitsui featured on Korrektiv:  The artist says: Here is something unlike anything I’ve drawn previously. This ink drawing (with gold leaf details) of St. Michael fighting the devil was commissioned by a priest of the Maryknoll Missionaries, an order with a … Read more

Fishless in 2050?

I’ve read the stories on and off for some time: Unless things change, our oceans could be out of fish by 2050. The latest report from the United Nations says that, according to current estimates, a fish-less world is quite possible within 40 years unless stocks are allowed to recover: According to the UN, 30 … Read more

Our phony economic recovery

The optimists over at The American Dream (tagline: “Waking People Up And Getting Them To Realize That The American Dream Is Quickly Becoming The American Nightmare”) say the claims of economic recovery are false. In fact, our apparent turnaround is actually the brief period of calm before a second, more serious collapse. There are troubling … Read more

Beyond ‘Happily Ever After’

Hollywood has always been preoccupied with that most exciting, most mercurial of human emotions: romantic love. There’s nothing particularly surprising about this obsession, of course: Filmmakers have long been drawn to those moments when human emotions run highest and most transparent, and if that isn’t a textbook definition of eros, I don’t know what is. … Read more

The Little Way of the Samurai

Director Yôji Yamada, creator of more than 70 films and a legend of Japanese cinema, has always been most famous for his contemporary dramas and TV series (his Otoko wa tsurai yo series alone has 48 installments). But like many Japanese directors, he was drawn from a young age to the samurai films of Akira … Read more

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