Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gaza, the Inauguration, Etc.

Thanks for all the mail, everyone, and I miss you too. As I mentioned in my first post-election post, I've been trying to blog less so I can focus more on the next novel. The election was hugely distracting and now I'm trying to make up for lost time.

Some of you have written to me to ask why I had nothing to say on Gaza. Part of the answer can be found in this paragraph from a leader in the January 17th Economist:

"Israel’s ruthless offensive has already cost it dear in world opinion. The remorseless demolition of wretched homes and lives by a mighty high-tech war machine cannot but cause grief and outrage in any decent onlooker. Israel asks how else it was supposed to respond to the rocket fire directed for years into its farms and cities, but such questions do absolutely nothing to blunt the emotional impact of this sort of war, whose heart-wrenching images are going to widen an already fearful chasm between the Jewish state and the peoples of the region in which it has yet to win acceptance. For its own sake as well as for the sake of the people of Gaza, it must stop."

That paragraph could have been written (and probably was written) about any Israeli/Arab clash of the last quarter century. I'm sure it'll be written again in the next one. I wrote about some of this in September 2006, and though my view has evolved on a few items I think those earlier posts have held up well. If you're curious, you can read more here, here, and here. Two years from now, I'll probably be linking to them again.

The inauguration: yes, I got up at 1:30 am Tokyo time to watch it. Despite how galactically stage-managed these things are, I found it moving. Former president Bush managed to include a last, characteristic parting shot, saying, "Good speech, Mr. President," following President Obama's speech. I'm sure in Bush's conscious mind, he was being gracious by calling the Obama Mr. President. In fact, he was indulging himself by implying that he was qualified to opine on the merits of the speech he'd just listened to. In Japan, it's considered rudely presumptuous for a student to complement a professor on the quality of a lecture. Instead, one merely says, "Thank you, I learned a lot." "Godspeed, Mr. President" would have been the equivalent for a man given to mangling English as ruthlessly as the former president. Regardless, Bush's last self-indulgence was redeemed by the sight of his helicopter, mercifully extracting him from the capital of the nation he's done so much to damage.

Off politics for a moment: on Friday, I got to see a screening of the Rain Fall movie, out on April 25 in Japan. It was a lot of fun; more thoughts and information here. And if you'd like to say hello in person while I'm on the road promoting Fault Line, out on March 10, here's the tour schedule, which includes Phoenix, Los Angeles (Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, LA), San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area (Menlo Park and San Mateo), Houston, Indianapolis (Carmel), Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Washington DC (Bethesda and Baileys Crossroads), New York City. Hope to see you at one of the events.

Finally, in case you missed it, here's your Jon Stewart fix. Without Fox news, comedy would be much the poorer.