18 December 2007

Out of Town on a Eurail

The Far Outliers will be on the road again for the next month, traveling by air, shank's mare, and Eurail pass. Today we fly to Boston to visit our daughter for a week, then fly on to Frankfurt on Christmas Day on our way to Strasbourg to visit my historian brother who's supervising a study-abroad program there. We plan to visit friends in Brittany the weekend of 4 January and make a return trip to Bucharest the weekend of 11 January, with a stop in Miklósvár in Székelyland, Transylvania, on the way there.

My brother speaks pretty good Central African French, and I've been working on reviving and expanding my high school French—il y a quarante ans! (I also passed a graduate reading exam in French.) Mrs. O and I can get around a bit in our high school German, and we will make a pilgrimage to the Black Forest town of Pfalzgrafenweiler from which her paternal ancestors emigrated to Ukraine during the Napoleonic era, only to emigrate to the Dakotas during the third Tsar-Alexandrine era and first or second President-Clevelandic era. I haven't been working on my Ceauşescu-era Romanian, but I'm pretty sure it'll come back enough to get around. We had hoped to branch out in more northerly and southerly directions from Strasbourg, but our long east–west jaunts won't leave us much time.

While we're away, you can get some interesting perspectives about where we'll be by exploring Europe Endless (formerly Rhine River), Notes from a Tunnel, and the always entertaining travels of Dumneazu. If you can't ignore Asia for that long, the latest Asian History Carnival at Frog in a Well should provide you with a lot of good reading.

Auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, şi la revedere.

Uganda's Abayudaya

Nathanael of Europe Endless recently posted a few fascinating excerpts from a long interview on Afropop about the Jews of Uganda. Here are a few excerpts of his excerpts.
Now, in contrast to [other Jewish] communities [in Africa], the Abayudaya, which means “Jewish people of Uganda,” proudly reference their conversion to Judaism in the 1920s, stating that they were drawn to Jewish practice by the truth of the Torah, the five books of Moses. Their founder, Semei Kakungulu, was a powerful Ganda leader, and he considered Christianity and Islam, and then according to community elders, said, “Why should I follow the shoots when I could have the root.”

Presently, the Abayudaya number of approximately 750 people, and live in villages surrounding Mbale in eastern Uganda. Many members scrupulously follow Jewish ritual, observe the laws of the Sabbath, celebrate Jewish holidays, keep kosher, and pray in Hebrew. Since the community’s original self conversion, and through the difficult period of Idi Amin’s rule in the 1970s, the Abayudaya have been distinguished by their commitment to following mainstream Jewish practice, an approach that’s been amplified since their increased contact with Jews from North America and Israel since the mid-1990s.…

I’ll tell one story. I was with the community in 2002, right before their official conversion, and the discussions in the community were really interesting at that point, because here were people who had practiced as Jews, many for four generations. I was sitting in a meeting of the Abayudaya Leadership Council, and one member said, “I have a question. We are talking about conversion here, but I’m Jewish, my father was Jewish, my grandfather was Jewish. Can you tell me exactly what I am converting to?” And the leadership, Gershom Sizomu and J.J. Keki, were very thoughtful here. They said, “We understand. We are not saying that we’re not Jewish. But there are formalities that need to be practiced in order for us to be recognized by world Jewry.” So the community decided not to call this a “conversion.” Internally, they called it a “confirmation” of their Judaism. They were confirming their Jewish identity, but they felt that they had been Jewish since the initial conversion by Semei Kakungulu in the early 1920s....

In many ways, Kakungulu’s self conversion to Judaism was an act of rejection of the British. A rejection of the British. A rejection of colonialism. It was Kakungulu and his followers saying, “No longer will we followed your directions here. We are going to follow our own spiritual path.” The British didn’t know what to make of Kakungulu’s Judaism. The book to read on this is Michael Twaddle’s book, “Kakungulu and the Creation of Uganda—1868 to 1928.” But basically, Kakungulu’s adoption of Judaism was very much him going off on his own path, not only religiously but politically, asserting his separation from the British, who were totally identified with the Anglican Church.

17 December 2007

To Ceausescu and Back: Notes from a Tunnel

I recently discovered a new autobiographical blog called Notes from a Tunnel by someone who "was born as a member of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, a child during Ceausescu’s dark 1970s, a teenager during the surreal Romanian ’80s, a student during the radical ’90s and a visiting émigré in recent years." Here are some of the blogger's earliest recollections about life in Romania during those years.

The First Glance Back
The following recollections though, from the Romanian pre- and post-Revolutionary years, are street-level snapshots with often surprising similarities between the old and the new country. They come together not as a grand portal into the past and quasi-present, but a small window for just one head at a time to peer through it....Having left that country eleven years ago, returning there regularly to this day, I can still meet and converse with many ghosts, ghosts cosily nesting in the altered, recently became ultra-material(istic) world of the Carpathian mountains.

This is about both the past when those ghosts still possessed powerful bodies in my weathered homeland, making Europe seem just some distant mirage, and the present when that world, still silently and slowly being kneaded by these ghosts, has gone through hasty re-decorating for its welcome party into a suddenly so reachable and tangible Europe...

It is also about the surprising and worrying parallels that one sees between that, thought to be defunct, world and the present day experiences in a historical democracy, the latter paradoxically resorting to exponentially increasing amounts of control in an attempt to safeguard its values...
My home town, Marosvasarhely... A medieval city in Transylvania, comfortably resting in the valley of river Maros, in just one of the many valleys which spread themselves on the map like half-open protecting hands... Valleys that so often were not protective enough, but at least were able to soften the sounds of thunderstorms and too numerous battles into a gentle rumble that used to reverberate along the many rivers of that bruised land... A town that in peacetime used to gaze down on lively markets unfolding their tents on the plains outside its old walls... hence its name, ‘marketplace on river Maros’ ....

All this sits pretty much right in the middle of Transylvania where eminently non-fictional creatures have been spilling and consuming blood for too many centuries. They did this in broad daylight, totally immune to garlic, casting onto those hills and plains of ever-changing colour very long and dense shadows which persist to this day in political life, in the ethnic tensions arising from the echoes of annexing the former Hungarian territory to Romania... These shadows are also present in the collective psyche that only in the last few years was freed from the most recent non-fictional, demented, but so calculated Evil.

I grew up there, during Ceausescu’s ‘Golden Era’... and can’t recall whether there was a certain moment when I realised that everything surrounding me was a tragicomic absurd play, set in a theatre made to seem considerably smaller than the world entire.

I still find it difficult to reconcile those two sides of me... One, the small kid opening his eyes and ears tentatively and initially very fearfully, a happy kid enjoying to the max a very minimalist childhood, accepting the food rationing and powercuts, propaganda and fake celebrations as the normal and, above all, the only possible reality. Then there is the other person, the grown-up looking back and finding that weird reality filled with funny and sad absurdities, contradictions still tying the mind into a confusing identity-warping knot.
My school days and years came after I learnt the fundamental physics of light and heat. Not the complex laws defining and governing them, but how ideological darkness and cold calculation can alter them when it came to what I then perceived as normal everyday existence. The joyous and by all means luminous play of the mind that took over for brief hours my early school days was quite opposite to what came after school, when due to shortages of class rooms we started doing 'afternoon shifts' alternating with our normal weeks of 8AM daily start...

I was finding my way on streets rendered pitch black by power saving measures, with constellations of warm orange and yellow and reddish dots, daubs and flecks of lights coming through the windows, coming from kerosene lamps and candles and the occasional battery-powered torches, projecting shadows of tired bodies animated by tired souls inhabiting the houses and block flats.

The economics of these cuts didn't make any sense, as the consumption of the population was infinitesimal compared to what was engorged by old-fashioned, hopelessly obsolete industrial monsters. For example, the aluminium plant at Slatina was making deplorable quality aluminium with old electrolysis methods, soaking up every electron that the also inefficient power plants around it could squeeze out of low-grade coal or methane.

16 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu: Postwar Delusions

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 202, 204-205:
A memorial service for the war dead was sponsored by the Buddhist federation and held at the theater on the night of September 14 [1945]. Rev. Joei Oi began the evening by saying that the service would honor the war dead of both sides, which was commendable. However, in his sermon, Rev. Enryo Shigefuji of Fresno expressed opinions that clearly showed he did not understand the current situation. I was surprised at his ignorance. First he attacked the United States for its unlawful and unjust use of atomic weapons. This was admirable. Then he reported, "Japan was so incensed at the inhumanity of this act that it wiped out the entire American expeditionary force in the Far East in three days and forced the United States to surrender." Rev. Shigefuji was said to be a highly learned priest, so I wondered what had happened. Outside after the meeting, Mr. Komai, Rafu Shimpo president, and I were so dumbfounded that all we could do was exchange stunned looks. We were so amazed by his remarks that we were practically speechless.

Two days later, I heard a sermon by Rev. Shuntaro Ikezawa of the Christian church in the east classroom. The weather was very bad—rain, hail, even thunder. There were only a few priests and about a dozen people present. As I expected, Rev. Ikezawa had grasped what was happening. In his sermon, "Truth and Love," he talked about the atomic bomb: "What was wrong was not the invention of atomic energy, but the thinking that led to its use in war. If we use our inventions for good, all human beings benefit. His Highness the Prime Minister said to General MacArthur, 'You must forget Pearl Harbor and we must forget the atomic bomb.' These were wise words." The Reverend then prayed for the birth of a new Japan. I felt what he had to say was well worth listening to. Over the next few days the internees could not stop talking about Rev. Shigefuji's sermon while Rev. Ikezawa's was never mentioned. Rev. Shigefuji was praised for expressing his opinions without fear and was regarded as a hero....

Even those who should have known better were misinformed or deluded themselves. Around this time I met an uneducated but admirable young man... One morning in early October, the two of us were taking a walk. I asked if he wished to return to Japan. He answered that, because he was poor, he could not go back and wanted instead to remain in the United States, where many jobs would be available in restaurants. He continued: "Actually, one of my friends advised me to return to Japan with him. I said I would if I had the kind of money he had. He said looks were deceiving; in fact he was penniless and that was why he was returning to Japan. Since Japan had won the war, internees could expect reparations from the United States. Internees who went back now could receive as much as fifty thou- sand dollars. If they returned later, the money might no longer be available. My friend repeated that I should go back with him. I did not know what to say. There are so many such fellows who think Japan has won the war." And so many of them were greedily waiting to return to Japan.

On October 1 all residents of the sixty-sixth barracks boycotted the Santa Fe Times and suspended their subscriptions.

After Spain withdrew its offer to represent Japanese interests, Switzerland took over the responsibility. The Swiss representatives visited the camp with State Department officials on September 27. Mr. Fischer was among them. They met with General Manager Koba and other camp officers. A report of what had transpired, written in question-and-answer form, was mimeographed both in English and Japanese and circulated to all barracks on October 2. U.S.-Japan relations, the surrender of Japan, and the changed conditions in Japan were outlined in detail. I quietly noted the internees' responses to the report. Many said that talks between representatives of a small country like Switzerland and State Department officials could only be propaganda. They showed no further interest in the matter. The prevailing attitude toward the report was indifference.

On October 2, the camp population was 2,027, of which 106 were in the hospital and 3 were in the temporary holding cell. Those of us in the "traitors group" estimated that the number of internees who had any real understanding of the war and its aftermath was less than a hundred. Even Nisei who visited their parents in the camp around this time advised them not to worry, because Japan was winning the war. The purpose may have been to bolster the spirits of the internees, but it also seemed to provide fuel for the diehards who refused to accept Japan's defeat. In the end this sort of thing did more harm than good.

Hijab vs. Koteka: West Papua Culture Clash

From Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds—On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998), pp. 224-225:
From the air, my first view of Wamena was a broad, grassy valley dotted with traditional Dani hamlets surrounded by incredibly neat and extensive sweet potato and vegetable gardens. Then came the town itself: an untidy, rusting conglomeration of tin-roofed buildings whose streets were laid out in a grid pattern. The silver minaret on the mosque gave it a distinctively Javanese appearance, even from above.

In the streets of Wamena, you see an extraordinary mixture of humanity. Proud Dani men, still holding fiercely to their traditional dress of koteka (penis gourd) tied at its base to a protruding testicle, stalk down the street, beards thrust forward and hands clasped behind their backs. Nervous-looking Muslim women, the oval of their face the only flesh visible in a sea of cotton, whisk gracefully by, while military men in immaculate and tight-fitting uniforms swagger confidently down the middle of the road.

Surely it is a perverse twist of fate that has put a nation of mostly Muslim, mostly Javanese, people in control of a place like Irian Jaya. You could not imagine, even if you tried, two more antipathetic cultures. Muslims abhor pigs, while to highland Irianese they are the most highly esteemed of possessions. Javanese have a highly developed sense of modesty. They dress to cover most of their body and are affronted by overt sexuality. For most Irianese, near-nudity is the universally respectable state. Moreover, men from the mountain cultures of western New Guinea wear their sexuality proudly. The long penis gourd often has the erectile crest of the cockatoo attached to its tip, just in case the significance of the upright orange sheath is missed.

Javanese fear the forest and are happiest in towns. They attach much importance to bodily cleanliness, yet pollute their waterways horribly. Irianese treat the forest as their home. Many are indifferent to dirt on the skin, yet, through custom, protect the ecological health of their forests and rivers. Javanese respect of authority is typically Asian in its obsequiousness. Irianese are fiercely intolerant of attempts at domination. No Dani man would ever let another lord it over him as a tuan (prince) does a Javanese petani (peasant).

15 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu: Tule Lake Thuggery

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 168, 170-171:
A right-wing youth group called Shichisho-kai (literally "Club of Seven Lives") held its first meeting in the east classroom on the night of December 12 [1944]. I decided to attend. At the meeting, young people seated themselves in groups and roll was taken. Then they all stood up and chanted in unison: "We are the loyal subjects of the Emperor. We are determined to be reborn seven times and serve our country." After that Rev. Dojun Ochi talked about the great history of Japan, beginning with the Meiji era and going back in time. It was very interesting. The leader of Shichisho-kai was apparently a man from Tule Lake....

A rumor spread that more of these "shaven heads" would be arriving from Tule Lake.... Among the internees at Tule Lake, two groups that were constantly at odds with one another were the pro-Japan or "disloyal" faction and the pro-American or "loyal" faction. Such a division in thinking could be found at any relocation center or camp, but it was especially serious at Tule Lake. The pro-Japan group set up a spy ring to gather information on those who were sympathetic to the United States. They infiltrated various groups, placing certain individuals under surveillance and using gatherings to collect information about their enemies. They selected faction members who were to take direct action against the enemy through extraordinary measures. If this proved unsuccessful, they planned to report the enemy to the Japanese government after the war. Once a person was identified as pro-American, they intimidated him by throwing human feces at his house or even boiled feces at the windows. Families were afraid of what others might think and quickly and quietly cleaned up the mess. In July 1944, after a certain Mr. Hitomi had been murdered, fear among the pro-American internees reached a panic stage. Thirteen families fled to a separate enclosed barracks, leaving everything behind. Some of the soldiers who were asked to retrieve their possessions were said to be in sympathy with the pro-Japan group, because when they went to collect one person's belongings, they asked, "Where's the dog's luggage?"

The internee population of Tule Lake Camp was eighteen thousand in October 1944. There were many families, so the camp resembled a town in Japan. Because there were many young girls at the camp, romances blossomed. This, fanned by an uncertain future, led to rash and impulsive behavior. Forty to fifty babies were born every month. Japanese-language schools were not allowed at relocation centers, but there were seven at Tule Lake, two of which were specifically named First National School and Second National School.

Father Pat's Old-time Syncretic Religion

From Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds—On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998), pp. 186-187:
Father Pat is an Irishman for whom Gaelic is a first language. He is one of the new style of Roman Catholic missionaries and is a vital force in the lives of the people of the Torricelli Mountains. As we got to know each other, I began to see what motivated Pat. He told me that his own language and culture had been banned and belittled at the hands of the invading English and that he was certainly not going to see that happen to his Papua New Guinea parishioners. They had, unfortunately, been converted in the 1930s by Catholic missionaries of German extraction who had suppressed the local culture. Pat was determined to redress that.

Under Father Pat, the region had experienced a dramatic cultural revival. The Mass was now said in Olo (the local language) by this Irish priest dressed to a turn in Melanesian finery. His cuscus-fur head-dress and bird-of-paradise plume armlets shook gloriously as he sang. Indeed, hearing Mass said by Father Pat dressed in his full regalia was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had in a church.

It was with some pride that Pat told me that the revival of old traditions had gone so far that, as a special favour to the visiting Bishop of Vanimo, parish women had danced bare-breasted in procession through the church while singing hymns.

But the revival had gone much deeper than ceremonial formalities. Pat had questioned the old men closely concerning their pre-Christian customs and had incorporated traditional elements, where appropriate, into the celebration of the sacraments. Thus, traditional words from birth and initiation ceremonies, many long forgotten by the community, were now said at baptisms and confirmations. Pat also bought ochre for decorative purposes and sponsored festivals on these occasions.

For the first time in decades a haus tambaran (ancestral spirit house) had been built in Wilbeitei village and in it were stored the spirit masks, all newly made, for which the area was formerly famous. But the house now had a double purpose. Though great spirit masks, some five metres tall, were hung around its walls, at its centre was parked the new community truck, the result of an investment and savings scheme instituted by Father Pat.

Pat's revival of the village traditions had come at a critical moment. The Olo had been influenced by Christianity for the best part of sixty years. They were a lot further down the road to westernisation than even the Telefol. It was dismaying to find that Pidgin was commonly used, even in conversations between the Olo themselves, and that only the very oldest members of the community remembered what traditional clothing looked like. Had Father Pat arrived just a decade later, he may have found precious little to preserve.

10 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, 7 November 1944

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), p. 164:
The U.S. presidential election held on November 7, 1944, attracted worldwide attention. On the eighth, it was confirmed that President Roosevelt had been reelected. It would be his fourth term, an unprecedented feat in American history. We now felt that the United States would take it upon itself to end the war. On the afternoon of November 7, the Buddhist and Shinto federations sponsored a memorial service for soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army and for internees who had died in this camp. It was held at the open-air theater, with the Reverend Kogan Yoshizumi officiating. Rev. Enryo Shigefuji of the Fresno Hongwanji Betsuin Mission suggested in his sermon that internees who had pledged loyalty to the United States and had been paroled were disloyal Japanese. Later he found himself in the same difficult position of being condemned when, ironically, he and his wife secretly applied for parole. Christians wanted to join the service, where they intended to pray for all of the war dead, but Buddhists and Shintoists insisted that only Japanese casualties be recognized, so there was no joint service. Even within our little barbed-wire world there were rigid divisions, strong divisive elements, and opposing views.

Telefomin, Barcelona, and Bulmer's Fruit Bat

From Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds—On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998), pp. 153-154 (NYT book review here):
Afektaman is a pretty little village overlooking the range which lies to the south of Telefomin. It is situated at the entrance to the Sepik Gorge, and is only about thirty kilometres in a straight line from Luplupwintem, which had been, until 1977, the sole roosting place of Bulmer's Fruit-bat.

On our arrival at Afektaman we immediately asked whether anyone called Woflayo lived there—and were led straight away, so easily, to a man of late middle-age who lived in a tiny collection of huts a kilometre or so from the village itself.

Woflayo invited us into his house, and offered us a cup of tea. As we talked, it became clear that Woflayo's Pidgin was rather limited. He was a conservative Telefol who clung fiercely to his traditions. He did not deign to learn the new lingua franca.

After we had explained the purpose of our visit, Woflayo commented that it was a good thing we had arrived that day, for later in the week he was leaving for Batalona. I was at first nonplussed as to where exactly Woflayo might be going. Batalona did not sound like any Telefol place name I had heard. After some more discussion it became apparent that Woflayo was off on a very long trip indeed. He was headed for Barcelona, where he would lead a Telefol dance troupe as part of the 1992 Olympic Games celebrations!

Woflayo's careful observance of tradition had clearly paid off. Of all Telefol, he was renowned as the one who knew the ancient dances best, and was thus the natural choice as leader of the troupe. What, I often wonder, did the good citizens of Barcelona make of Woflayo, bedecked in penis gourd, cane waistband and feathered head-dress, chanting and swaying to his Telefol rhythms?

After we drank our tea, Woflayo took us to a garden at the back of his hut. There, he showed us the stump of a small fig tree. It was in this tiup tree, he said, that he had shot the bat which he had sold to 'Masta Steve' [Van Dyke of the Queensland Museum] in 1984.

I was flattened. What an anticlimactic end to a journey which had begun with such excitement months ago and thousands of kilometres away!

A bat which Woflayo had shot in his back yard and thought nothing of had brought strangers to his door from another continent... And in a few days, he would dance to a crowd of tens of thousands on a continent as foreign to him as the far side of the moon.

08 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, 7 December 1943

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 144-145:
December 7, 1943, was the second anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. A ceremony honoring the memory of fallen soldiers was held in the square in the morning. We bowed in the direction of the Imperial Palace, sang the national anthem twice, and observed a moment of silence. A speech was given by General Manager Kondo. After the ceremony, a packet of fragrant green tea, donated by the Japanese Red Cross, was distributed to each internee by the barracks chiefs. A large flag of the Rising Sun made with used paper was displayed in the Upper Town mess hall. This would have been a problem in the outside world, but here it did not seem to matter.

On December 9 it snowed heavily all day. The roads were slippery and dangerous. It was the forty-ninth day after the death in Italy of Mr. Akira Morihara, the third son of Mr. Usaku Morihara, a shopowner from Kona. A memorial service was held at the Lower Town mess hall in the afternoon, and many internees attended. This was the first service in the camp for a fallen Japanese American soldier. On the night of the tenth, the sight of the Rocky Mountains covered in snow and illuminated by the moon was bewitching and beautiful beyond description. On the night of the thirteenth, internees from Maui held a memorial service for eight Japanese American soldiers from Maui (including Mr. Yoshinobu Takei) who had been killed in Italy. The Reverends Ryugen Matsuda and Tamasaku Watanabe delivered sermons and Mr. Tokiji Takei said a few words on behalf of the families. It was later reported that, of Japanese American soldiers from Maui, 8 had been killed and 180 injured.

To Save or Not Save a Wife

From Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds—On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea, by Tim Flannery (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998), pp. 96-97 (NYT book review here):
On our last evening in Yominbip we were working restlessly in our hut, packing and repacking the equipment, when Maria, Oblankep's wife, paid an unexpected visit. As she spoke her voice was low and desperate, and hatred and fear mingled as she told her story in Pidgin.

She had grown up in a small village just outside of Madang; although her family was poor, she was used to the city life and loved it. She met Oblankep in the market at Madang while he was living there. She thought him handsome and took him home to meet her family. He told stories about Yominbip—describing it as a large village not far from a great town and the coast.

Maria' s parents accepted the marriage offer. Knowing that she was unlikely to see her parents again, she bade them a tearful farewell.

Oblankep's manner changed when they arrived at Telefomin. He assaulted her and forced her to walk, pregnant, to Yominbip. The journey almost killed her. Since then, alone among strangers, she had borne him a child. She worked daily in the remote gardens. She had grown to hate Yominbip. Those stories about this place—he had told her lies.

She whispered hoarsely, 'Please take me with you. When the helicopter comes, please take me with you.'

'But what about your child?'

'Leave it,' she said savagely.

When she slipped away I felt a great sense of unease. Should we steal Maria from Yominbip (for that is how Oblankep would doubtless see it), or should we refuse her request? I dared not mention her visit, for she might be severely beaten for what she had done thus far. A failed escape attempt might even result in death.

Most murders in Papua New Guinea result from the theft of women, pigs or land. We would be compromising our own safety were we to attempt to help her escape. And there were other more complex issues to consider. Virtually the entire community of Yominbip had come together as a result of kidnappings. Oblankep had kidnapped his wife, but he himself had been taken by force from his original family. In such a situation it would be useless to try to explain the rights and wrongs of Maria's case. Morality as I knew it would simply not be understood.

I worried at the problem all morning until a faint mechanical sound announced the imminent arrival of the helicopter. I ran to Oblankep's hut, and found Maria seated firmly in a corner, her father-in-law standing near her. I could not see her face. With forced jocularity I asked if there were any messages I could take out for anyone. No response. I filled the awkward silence by asking Oblankep to come to my hut so that I could give him some gifts. Everything I was leaving behind I then put in his and his father's care, to be used by the entire community.

The chopper drew nearer. When it had almost touched down on the new pad I saw Maria crying at the door of Oblankep's hut. In the din of the rotor blades Lester began loading our specimens and equipment into the cargo hold, unaware of what was going on. I turned back to Maria, her face contorted with tears.

Behind her Oblankep watched, his eyes hard and angry.
The strange title of this book is an anglicized rendition of the Tok Pisin phrase otherwise spelled toromoi lek or tromwe lek, meaning 'to shake a leg, to get going'.

06 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu: Bad Language

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 139-140:
No place had more "Do not" signs than Santa Fe Camp. "Do not pick flowers," scolded the sign in front of the Japanese office. They were especially numerous in the toilets. One admonished, "Do not wash your feet in the basin," which of course meant that someone must have already done so. I once saw a man washing a dog under the tap in the laundry room and felt that he and I would never be able to get along. At the entrance to the woodshop, a notice read, "Carpenter room not for use." Someone added a comma, changing it to "Carpenter, room not for use." One of the carpenters altered the sign further: "Except for carpenter, room not for use." In the camp, there were many good trees for hanging oneself. They should have put up a sign on each one saying "Do not hang yourself on this tree."

I was quite annoyed at the Japanese of the [camp radio] announcers. Small mistakes are inevitable, but here is a list of some things that I felt were extremely irritating:
  • muyo no nagamono for muyo no chobutsu (useless things) [無用の長物]

  • yosai for shosai (details) [詳細]

  • sonshu for junshu (observance) [遵守]

  • obo for oho (visit) [往訪]

  • shuppon for shuppan (sailing out) [出帆]

  • kakusho for oboegaki (memo) [覚書]

  • yuzetsu for yuzei (canvassing) [遊説]

  • kagawa for kasen (river) [河川]

  • usuho for kyuho (mortar) [臼砲]

  • kodai for kakudai (expansion) [拡大]

  • teryudan for shuryudan (hand grenade) [手榴弾]

  • hitokeri shite for isshuu shite (giving a kick) [一蹴]

  • issetsu for issai (all) [一切]

  • zenhabateki for zenpukuteki (to the full) [全幅的]

  • yotaku for yokai (meddling) [溶解]

  • keiniku for geiniku (whale meat) [鯨肉]
One man's pronunciation of not only Japanese but also English was muddled. He claimed to have graduated from the University of Southern California. He repeatedly pronounced Pearl Harbor as "Pole Harbo," Eisenhower as "Aizen-no-hawah," and Iowa as "Aioh." All of the announcers were newspapermen, teachers, or interpreters from the Mainland. I noticed only one Hawaii man who pronounced konrinzai (by no means) as kinrinzai. I have no intention of faulting them for an occasional slip of the tongue, but what I have recorded here is what I heard on several occasions.

Whatever the pronunciation, the broadcasts on current affairs were very popular. Since the outbreak of the war, news was censored and there was too much propaganda. On top of this, people tended to lean toward wishful thinking, so that in the end it was difficult to determine what was true and what was not. Most of the internees were simpleminded. When Japanese victories were announced, they greeted the news with applause and instantly became cheerful. If they heard that the British or the Americans were making progress, they criticized the broadcast. Some announcers tried to flatter their audiences and were guilty of "selling out." Those who knew better thought this was foolish and stopped listening. The cooks in the mess hall were thoughtful. When good news about Japan was broadcast, they always placed a bun with the flag of the Rising Sun on each of our trays. Sometimes they served us sekihan (rice and red beans) to celebrate. I thought this was very amusing.
All of the mispronunciations that irritated Soga so much are reading pronunciations, where the Sino-Japanese reading is substituted for the native Japanese reading (kakusho for oboegaki), one Sino-Japanese reading is substituted for another (keiniku for geiniku), or Sino-Japanese and native Japanese readings are mixed (kagawa for kasen).

UPDATE: Thanks to Matt of No-sword for supplying the kanji for oho (= ouhou).

Wordcatcher Tales: Shaba, Tekipaki, Baribari

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), p. 102:
Internees called the world beyond the barbed wire shaba. Although I did not like this word and did not use it, nearly everyone else did because it was convenient. Another word, chokuchi, often used by Mainlanders, was new at first to those of us from Hawaii, but it means to cheat. It probably comes from a Chinese word. Instead of tekipaki (quickly), internees said baribari, which I think is vernacular from somewhere in Japan. Farmers from the Mainland who grew vegetables at the camp said kyukanpo for "cucumber." Japanese often confuse the p sound with b because there is no p sound in the original Japanese language. My friends from Hawaii often say "blantation" for "plantation" and "Poston" for "Boston." I thought this strange at first. As the influence of Hawaii internees grew in the camps, the use of Hawaiian words began to spread among the Mainlanders. Soon everyone was using kaukau [‘food’], aikane [‘friend’], and moimoi [moemoe ‘sleep’].
This is a strange passage. It sounds as if the author was interned with Koreans rather than Japanese, since mixing up p and b, t and d, and k and g is one of the markers of Korean-accented Japanese. There was also some new vocabulary for me. I haven't been able to find chokuchi 'to cheat', but the others are worth noting.

娑婆 shaba is 'the world' or 'the world outside', as in shaba ni deru 'to go out into the world = to get out of prison'. (I wonder if it also means 'to leave the priesthood'.) But it also appears in 娑婆気 lit. 'world feeling', as in shabaki o suteru 'to give up worldly ambitions or desires'. The author of the passage cited above was a news reporter interned with a lot of Buddhist priests.

てきぱき tekipaki seems to indicate not just quick, but also brisk, decisive, precise, and prompt, quickness with a military snap to it. All these qualities are presumably implied in the name of a Japanese web-hosting service, tekipaki.jp.

ばりばり baribari, by contrast, stresses not just speed, but energy and even fury, as in ばりばり働く baribari hataraku 'work like a demon'.

03 December 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu: An Embarrassment of Clerics

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 90-93
At Lordsburg there were close to a hundred Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian ministers, pastors, and lecturers—quite an amazing number. Fifty-four Buddhists represented various sects. The twenty-five in the second battalion organized a Buddhist association, and the twenty-nine in the third battalion established a Buddhist ministers' organization. Each organization held study sessions and a service every Sunday. Among the special events were the Bon Festival, equinoctial service, and Buddhahood attainment service. Twenty-three ministers were from Hawaii, thirty-one from the Mainland. Other Buddhist groups included the Jodoshu Mission, the second battalion's Sodoshu Mission, the second and third battalion's Buddhist hymn group, and a Kannon sutra reading group....

Shinto associations in the camp included Daijingu and Konko-kyo. Twelve Shinto ministers hailed from the Mainland, two from Hawaii.... Mr. Miryo Fukuda of the Konko-kyo San Francisco Mission was said to be a graduate of Tokyo Imperial University, but he was an ultranationalist and a troublemaker....

Christians from the Mainland and Hawaii organized the United Church of Christian Sects here. Of the eleven pastors, four were from Hawaii. They held Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday prayer meetings, bible lectures, special meetings, and hymn study meetings. Rev. Kiyoshi Ishikawa, a graduate of Doshisha University, and Rev. Takashi Kamae, a graduate of Aoyama Gakuin University, were devoted scholars. They were both from California....

Whenever a funeral was held in the camp, if the deceased happened to be a Buddhist, dozens of clerics would line up at the service in colorful, beautifully decorated surplices. In the outside world one could never expect to see such an assemblage of ministers in such finery. Upon seeing this spectacle, someone joked, "If you have to die, now is the time." I had to agree, and I mean no disrespect, but I question the character of some of these religious leaders. Frankly, many of them disappointed me in that they did not know the way of Buddha or God. Most important of all, they did not know the way of Man, since they knew too little about the world. They could not understand the ever-changing international situation. They secluded themselves in their sect or religion and did not know or care to know anything beyond it. It seems perfectly clear to me why they failed to enlighten or inspire others....

At the outbreak of the war between the United States and Japan, a disagreement divided the Hongwanji Mission on the Mainland into two opposing groups: those ministers who sided with the United States and those who sided with Japan. The Reverend Ryotai Matsukage of the Honpa Hongwanji North America Mission issued a statement early on, saying that Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was cowardly and dishonorable. He encouraged other ministers on the Mainland to break off their relations with the head temple in Japan and support the United States. His views were published in English-language newspapers and endorsed by the Reverend Okayama, his successor. Whether or not because of this statement, Rev. Matsukage and his supporters were not interned.

Many Japanese accused Rev. Matsukage's group of speaking against Japan and the head temple to save themselves. In mid-March 1943, the minister sent thirty dollars to the Hongwanji ministers interned at Lordsburg. After a heated discussion involving diehards and moderates that nearly led to an exchange of blows, the ministers decided to return the money.

There is no one more despicable or troublesome than a hypocrite. I was surprised to discover so many of them among the religious men and teachers in the camp. A man from the Mainland told me the story of a high-ranking monk who supposedly lived according to Buddha's teachings and was arrested by the FBI. When agents searched him, they found more than a thousand dollars in cash in his coat pockets. Interrogation followed, and when his residence was searched agents discovered a bundle of love letters from a married woman. His followers were shocked by the deception. Here was a man who had gained their sympathy and respect by appearing to embrace poverty and a strict moral code of behavior. He is not an exception among those of his profession.

Like many ministers, a surprising number of teachers fail to comprehend anything beyond their own limited experience. They lack even the simplest and most basic knowledge of international affairs. They hardly have the will to study. Because they have spent so much of their lives teaching, they feel they can educate anyone—even adults—when they have taught only children. They want to help others to learn, which is admirable, but many of them have lost the humility necessary to learn from others and fail to realize that they are behind the times.
Thus wrote a Japan-raised journalist during the 1940s.

02 December 2007

A Tale of Two Blogs

I started the Far Outliers blog four years ago this month, mostly as an experiment to see how easy it would be to create my own blog after reading so many others. Blogger.com made it fairly easy to start, despite periodic episodes of chaos during upgrades. During the last major upgrade, I moved my blog to the new servers, but did not upgrade the layout. I plan to do that this month, unless I hear too many horror stories from readers who regret doing the same thing.

In April this year, after helping someone else start a new blog on WordPress.com, I created a WP version of Far Outliers and imported all my old posts from Blogger.com. It was very easy, and I much prefer the design of my WP blog, especially the typography and the banner image that I can replace at will. I cannot really compare how easy it is to tweak the designs of my two blogs until I upgrade to Blogger's widget-driven layout mode in place of my old syntax-driven template.

I now have over 1,600 blogposts on each blog, over 400 per year. Sitemeter reports over 200,000 visits and 300,000 pageviews at my blogspot site. I am quite satisfied with being a Crawly Amphibian in the TTLB Ecosystem, and generally keeping some distance (often centuries in time) from all the swirling controversies of every new battle in the blogosphere. I prefer to post backgrounders that add historical or extraregional perspectives on current issues and events. Several online reference works link to some of my posts on Blogger, making me reluctant to abandon the older blog.

Most of my blogspot traffic arrives via images.google.com, because I often link out to maps and images to aid readers (and myself) when delving into unfamiliar territory. My top entry page on blogger is the archive page for August 2007, primarily because the main blogpost on 25 August contains a link to a CIA political map of Southeast Asia available on a server in Middlebury, VT. The same entry, Outburst of Piracy in Southeast Asia, 1754-1838, is also the top post on my WP blog, for the same reason. Only this week has images.google.com begun directing traffic to the WP version, overwhelming the referrals from WP's tag aggregator system.

For a long time, my top post on Blogger was The German Pacific "Gutpela Taim Bipo"—not because of much interest in Germany's former colonies in the Pacific, but simply because the post had discussed floggings and executions, and had linked out to an image at a German academic site to illustrate Field Punishment No. 1 (the pillory, which replaced flogging). The German site later removed the image and I removed the link, thereby considerably reducing traffic to that post. Judging from the search terms that brought people there, a lot of people seem to be interested in flogging, public execution, the pillory, and the like, many if not most of them coming from European IP addresses, it seemed. (By the way, the Australians, not the Germans, were responsible for dramatic increases in public corporal punishments during the 1920s and 1930s in their newly acquired colony of New Guinea.)

WP's built-in blog stats keyed to individual blogposts rather than to monthly archives have yielded some surprising results, showing me that my posts about religion often attract as much interest as my posts on language. WP's tag aggregator gurus have also been kind enough to feature several of my recent posts on religion (and even war!), perhaps because I have remained relatively nonpartisan on those topics. For the record, I am a secularist who believes religion often serves a vital purpose, and also a Vietnam-era draftee who believes warfare is sometimes necessary. In short, I am neither a religion-bashing secularist nor a military-bashing pacifist.

30 November 2007

Outer Mongolians Inside the Beltway

This may be old news to Beltwaytards, but it's new news to me, from the Washington Post of 3 July 2006:
The Mongolian Children's Festival, in its third year, highlights a little-known fact about life in Arlington County -- that the Mongolian community has become a force. After English and Spanish, the school system's most common language is Mongolian.

Mongolians in Arlington are a new phenomenon, most arriving in the past five years, and they seem to have an innate talent for fitting in. Within months, most Mongolian children prattle comfortably in English and embrace U.S. fashions, music and dance moves.

Traditionally a nomadic culture of horsemen, Mongolians lived for years as a Soviet satellite with no access to the west. In 1990, after a democratic revolution, Mongolia opened up, and its 2.5 million citizens were allowed outside the Iron Curtain.

Many went abroad in search of better-paying work and opportunities for their children, although it often meant doing jobs beneath their training (doctors might work as orderlies or sandwich vendors). An estimated 15,000 to 18,000 Mongolians live in the United States, with large enclaves in California, Colorado, Illinois and Arlington, which the Mongolian Embassy says is home to about 2,600.

Why Arlington? Community leaders say it was simply where the first arrivals happened to settle. More followed, coming on student and tourist visas, and they helped each other find jobs and apartments.

But the county's schools also played a role. Bolormaa Jugdersuren, a Mongolian who is an instructional assistant at Williamsburg Middle School in North Arlington, originally moved to Baltimore and enrolled her children in schools there -- until she compared their progress to that of Mongolian children in Arlington.

"I felt like my children were missing something," she said. After moving here, their English improved quickly. "That's why most Mongolian people come here," she said. "Because they choose first the education for their offspring."
via The Marmot's Hole

I wonder if Arlington High School or Washington-Lee High School has a sumo team. Instead of dividing the wrestlers into East and West teams for tournament matchups, they could divide them into North and South.

Tessaku Seikatsu: Mainland vs. Hawaii Internees

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 81-83:
Internees from the Mainland were more rebellious than those from Hawaii. From the point of view of Americans, this kind of behavior was seen as extremely disloyal but, given the pitiful circumstances under which mainland Japanese were placed, it was to be expected. I would not be exaggerating if I said that part of the responsibility for the recalcitrance of these internees rested on the United States government. Japanese in Hawaii were very lucky in comparison. Throughout the war, most were allowed to live comfortably and keep their businesses. For this we must thank Lieutenant General Emmons, a fair and intelligent man, who was commander in Hawaii when the war broke out.

When the first and second Hawaii groups came into contact with internees from the Mainland, they were generally considered inferior. (By the time I arrived at Lordsburg [NM], this was no longer the case.) Japanese from Panama and South America were also held in low esteem, so they felt much closer to internees from Hawaii. Japanese resent being discriminated against, but they themselves are prone to "closing ranks" to exclude others. Few ethnic groups exhibit this kind of behavior: It is definitely one of the shortcomings of Japanese. Those from the Mainland had suffered greatly under anti-Japanese policies and regulations, so they tried, consciously or unconsciously, to gain satisfaction by excluding those whom they considered to be "outsiders"—Japanese from Hawaii, Panama, and South America.

After we had lived together for awhile, the Mainlanders began to think better of us. Hawaii people often took the lead in promoting events and participated in many camp activities: theatricals, exhibitions, and sports, including sumo and softball. They began to realize we were fairly strong in not only number but also character. We received monthly remittances of fixed amounts from home and were the best customers at the canteen (camp store), which gave us a certain amount of clout. What we hated most was being blamed by Mainlanders whenever something went wrong. But in general we were not reproached and maintained a good reputation in the camps. I think this was due to our strong willpower....

Among Mainland Japanese were quite a number of illegal immigrants who had jumped ship in the San Diego area in southern California to work as fishermen or had smuggled themselves into the United States from Mexico. Lured to this land of Canaan, where honey and milk were said to be flowing, hundreds of Japanese and Chinese attempted the crossing. All along the vast, barren border lie the bones of many adventurers who failed. Swindlers offering transport to the United States for several hundred dollars would open their cargo doors while flying and dump their "shipment" in the middle of the desert without a second thought. I heard all of this from a man who lived in Mexico.

29 November 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, May 1942

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 61-62
We all welcomed newcomers and anything they could tell us of the outside world, but we were also cautious. Many new arrivals held grudges, blaming their arrests on others and calling them "dogs" for collaborating with the FBI. We heard many such allegations. Those of us arrested on December 7, the day the war began, had no such complaints. From the outset we had been listed as persons to be interned if war broke out between the United States and Japan. Some people who should have been listed were not, which of course did not sit well with most of us. A colleague of mine from another island was in Honolulu on business when war was declared. Desperate to return home, he asked a prominent Japanese to speak to the military authorities. When he returned to his hotel, however, an FBI agent was there to arrest him. Both men were in newspaper-related work, so they were prime candidates for internment anyway, but the prominent one escaped incarceration. Similar examples of perceived discrepancies led to suspicion and malicious gossip.

Among the newer arrivals was a minister from Honolulu who joined us at Sand Island about six months later. He gave a lecture one evening, saying: "Quite a few of you who arrived here early on have grown timid. You must be strong! Japan is now waging a sacred war of hachigen ichi-u!" (The correct phrase is hakko ichi-u, meaning "the whole world under one roof.") Disgusted by his pretentious exhortation, a half-dozen listeners walked out. They ridiculed the priest, saying, "Humph—what nerve! He talks big now, but before his arrest he was running scared. He doesn't even know his Japanese!"

Most internees worked inside the barbed-wire fence. Even the authorities could not force us to work beyond the fence. The vegetable gardens were located outside the camp, so only volunteers could work there. One Sunday, defense workers at a nearby site took the day off, so some internees were recruited to take their place. The camp authorities got into trouble when the labor union protested.

28 November 2007

Orlando Figes on Stalin's Collaborators

In the NYT Sunday Book Review, Joshua Rubenstein reviews The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, by Orlando Figes (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007).
For many years, Orlando Figes observes, the memoirs of intellectual dissidents, like Eugenia Ginzburg and Nadezhda Mandelstam, and the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “were widely greeted as the ‘authentic voice’ of ‘the silenced,’” telling us “what it had ‘been like’ to live through the Stalin Terror as an ordinary citizen.” Their books did indeed reflect the experience of people like themselves, who were “strongly committed to ideals of freedom and individualism.” But they did not represent what happened to millions of other people who were not opponents of the regime and did not engage in any kind of substantial dissent, but were still dispatched to labor camps, to exile in remote settlements or to summary execution. As Figes, a leading historian of the Soviet period, concludes in “The Whisperers,” his extraordinary book about the impact of the gulag on “the inner world of ordinary citizens,” a great many victims “silently accepted and internalized the system’s basic values” and “conformed to its public rules.” Behind highly documented episodes of persecution, famine and war lie quieter, desperate stories of individuals and families who did what they could to survive, to find one another and to come to terms with the burden of being physically and psychologically broken. But it was not only repression that tore families apart. The regime’s reliance on “mutual surveillance” complicated their moral burden, instilling feelings of shame and guilt that endured long after years of imprisonment and exile.

The widespread use of communal apartments facilitated government oppression. Initially designed to address a severe housing crisis, the apartments turned into “a means of extending the state’s powers of surveillance into the private spaces of the family home.” Families could monitor one another, reporting any hint of disloyalty. Spouses and children could be sent away after an arrest or an execution. The age of criminal responsibility was lowered to 12 in order to reinforce pressure on adults to cooperate with interrogators and spare their children. A wife was expected to divorce her arrested husband....

The case of Aleksandr Tvardovsky exemplified the way families could be torn apart by moral degradation. Tvardovsky is remembered for being an accomplished poet and the courageous editor of Novy Mir (New World), a literary journal that, during the Khrushchev period in the late 1950s and early ’60s, published outspoken material about the Stalin years, including work by Solzhenitsyn and the memoirs of Ilya Ehrenburg.

But Tvardovsky had his own troubling background. His father and brothers had been arrested on political grounds in 1931, and Aleksandr, wanting to pursue a literary career, refused to maintain contact. As he wrote to them: “I am neither a barbarian nor an animal. I ask you to fortify yourselves, to be patient and to work. The liquidation of the kulaks as a class does not mean the liquidation of people, even less the liquidation of children.” He concluded by insisting they not communicate with him. Two months later, his father fled his place of exile to find his estranged son. Tvardovsky betrayed him to the police. Compelled “to choose between one’s family and the Revolution,” Tvardovsky, like many others, refused to give in to “abstract humanitarianism.”

Tessaku Seikatsu: German & Italian Internees

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 49-50:
About seventy to eighty Germans and Italians were interned in one corner of Sand Island. Their living quarters were next to the Japanese mess hall, and beyond that stood the women's barracks. Among them were company men, brewing technicians, doctors, laborers, and a young engineer whom I knew from the Waikiki Rotary Club. I spoke occasionally with an old man who had been arrested on Molokai. There were also Dr. Zimmerman, who made news when a petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed on his behalf, and the dashing young son of the minister of the interior of a northern European country who had cruised around the world in a speedboat. We were envious of those, like Professor Tower of the University of Hawaii, who were released early from Sand Island. Mr. Liebricht, a violinist, was paroled later.

Those in charge at the camps did not seem to discriminate in their treatment of Europeans and Japanese. Generally speaking, Germans and Italians gave them much more trouble than Japanese. They often quarreled among themselves, tattling to the authorities like children. In the end, they were ignored. As for cleanliness, Japanese were far superior. Apparently the toilets and bathrooms in the European barracks were very dirty.

At the beginning of 1942, Germans and Italians were also sent to the Mainland. Thirteen men who were American citizens returned to Sand Island on April 28, 1942; a new rule stipulated that citizens could no longer be sent to the Mainland. Those who returned reported on the conditions of various camps and on the Mainland in general, which led me to feel I would be better off going there as soon as possible. Around this time, Captain S became our commander at Sand Island. Once when I was talking to two or three Germans in violation of camp rules, Captain S approached us and asked, "What are you talking about?" I answered, "I was asking about friends who went to the Mainland." He said calmly, "It's against the rules, so you should avoid talking to one another." I replied courteously, "I understand." If it had been Captain E, I would have gotten a verbal thrashing.

Of the German prisoners, Mr. Otto Kuehn was the most famous. While he was imprisoned in a solitary cell, his wife and beautiful daughter (the wife of a U.S. army officer) were kept in a small cottage in front of the women's barracks. I do not know what Mr. Kuehn did for a living, but because he had an ongoing relationship with the Japanese Consulate he was indicted as a spy and sentenced to death. Later his sentence was reduced to fifty years imprisonment. After Mr. Kuehn was transferred to a prison on the Mainland his wife and daughter followed. He was the only spy arrested in Hawaii.

27 November 2007

Tessaku Seikatsu, December 1941

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), pp. 34-35:
On December 24, our first Christmas Eve since our arrest, Mr. Masaji Marumoto arrived at the camp accompanied by an FBI agent. This was the first time someone from the outside (other than military personnel) had visited us. Mr. Marumoto, a lawyer, had come to write powers of attorney, and I asked to meet with him. We were allowed to speak in Japanese, but of course the FBI agent present was fluent in Japanese. Upon his arrival, Mr. Marumoto's face became deathly pale, perhaps because he saw our surroundings and old friends badly in need of a shave and a change of clothes. I asked Mr. Marumoto to contact my wife about sending me some clothes. Half a month had passed since our arrival at the camp, and Mr. Daizo Sumida, Dr. Takahashi, and I had yet to receive a letter or parcel. We later found out that our letters had crossed with those from home, but at the time we felt somewhat frustrated and suffered from a lack of spare underwear. The day after Mr. Marumoto's visit, all three of us received parcels of clothes from home.

For Christmas, we were treated to turkey at lunch. The Germans and Italians hastily put up a simple Christmas tree in the mess hall. That night one of the German detainees, a lecturer at the University of Hawaii, gave a talk, and many Japanese attended. He said that he would pray for a quick end to the war and everyone's good health and that we be reunited with our families for Christmas next year....

On the first day of 1942, our first New Year's Day since our arrest, we did not get even a piece of mochi (rice cake) and did not feel festive at all. We were filled with anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness—not only for ourselves, but also for the families we had left behind. Unless a man was extremely confident and optimistic, it was to be expected that here he might develop "nerves" or begin to display odd behavior. I noticed that men who had been fond of "talking big" outside were now depressed, turning into shadows of their former selves. Still others, refusing to face reality, clung to their prewar social status, which created problems for everyone.

When we are reduced to living at the most basic level, our good and bad points are clearly exposed. On the whole, educators and priests showed themselves to be the worst of the lot. I was not the only one who felt this way. Of course there are always exceptions: There are many respectable teachers and priests. I regret to say, however, that in the camp I was disappointed in most of them.

26 November 2007

Ogasawara Mixed Language: English in Japanese

From English on the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, by Daniel Long (Duke U. Press, 2007; Publication of the American Dialect Society, no. 91; Supplement to American Speech, vol. 81), chap. 10:

At the end of the Pacific War, the U.S. Navy occupied the Ogasawara Islands and permitted only the families of Western descent to return, along with their spouses and children, whether Japanese, Western, or mixed. These families were all bilingual and mixed Japanese and English in their speech. Before the war, monolingual Japanese officials stigmatized the mixed language as "English," but after the war, monolingual American officials stigmatized it as "Japanese." However, the islanders took pride in their bilingual heritage, and some of this "Navy generation" of Ogasawara Islands claim they purposely created Ogasawara Mixed Language (OML). Here are some examples from interviews recorded with some of these baby boomers during the 1990s.

  • Me no sponsor no, anō, nan to yū no? Sono French door, anō glass door ga warete, water ga up to the knee datta. ‘My sponsor’s—that, what do you call it? Their French door, that glass door broke and water was up to the knee.’

  • Uchi no Mama was no leg man mo mita-zutta zo. Anoo, heitai no clothes kite. You no ojiisan, too, he had lots of stories. ‘My mama said she even saw a one-legged man, uh, wearing army clothes. Your grandpa too, he had lots of stories.’
Temporal expressions
  • I remember I was only about twelve da kedo. Kinky tachi saa, Kinky to ka aretachi. Guam kara kaette kita ja, sugu. Sou darou? May, May no twentieth da to omou n da yo ne. May twentieth ka May twenty-fourth gurai da to omou. ‘I remember I was only about twelve, but Kinky and them, um, Kinky and all of them had come back from Guam, you know. About May twentieth or May twenty-fourth, I think.’

  • Every year. Mada aru yo, decorations, sukoshi. Twelve years old gurai no toki, chotto Christmas tree kazari hazimete. ‘Every year—I still have them, the decorations, a few. When I was about twelve years old, we started Christmas tree decorating a bit.’
Wraparound structures
  • It’s about three times gurai yatta ne. ‘It did it about three times, huh?’

  • We bought about two pounds gurai katte kita no. ‘We bought about two pounds.’
Basic vocabulary
  • Dakara face to name ga chigau kara. ‘It’s because the face and name don’t match up.’
Phrases as well as words
  • Aa, tsunami no toki? Me to mama wa last one to get out of there, yama ni nobotte. ‘The time of the tsunami? Me and Mama were the last ones to get out of there, climbing up the hill.’
OML versus code-mixing
OML differs in many significant ways from normal code-mixing or code-switching between English and Japanese. When Japanese code-mix, for example, they generally do NOT: (a) ignore honorifics (keigo), (b) ignore polite forms (teineigo), (c) use English pronouns, (d) incorporate English whole phrase structure, (e) use English phonology, or (f) use English counters. These are all significant features of OML.
Passing of a transient language
Since the reversion of the islands to Japan in 1968 and the subsequent incursion of ethnic-Japanese (now outnumbering the Westerners ten fold), OML has fallen deeper and deeper into disuse. For elderly (those raised before the war) and middle-aged (raised in the Navy Era) Westerners, the decreasing usage of OML seems to correspond to a decreasing desire to distinguish themselves from their new and returned ethnic-Japanese neighbors. Even when they do wish to assert their uniqueness, there is less need to rely on language to accomplish that. The Westerners had many things in common with the Navy personnel, but they relied on OML (or on Japanese) to distinguish themselves from the Americans. These days, they have many nonlinguistic aspects which they can employ. These include their non-Japanese given and family names, their participation in the Christian church, their non-Asian physical appearances, and their common heritage and shared experiences.

25 November 2007

Mongolians, Estonian Dominate Sumo Tourney

In the absence of Asashoryu, who has been under suspension, the junior and better-behaved Mongolian yokozuna, Hakuho (12-3), won his 5th Grand Sumo Tournament, while the smallest Mongolian, Ama (10-5), won his 2nd Outstanding Performance Award; the giant Estonian, Baruto (11-4), won his 2nd Fighting Spirit Award; and Fukuoka native Kotoshogiku (9-6) won his 2nd Technique Prize. I think they should hold the Natsu Basho (in May) in Ulan Bator instead of Tokyo each year. There are now seven Mongolians in the Makuuchi ranks and five in the Juryo ranks.

24 November 2007

How Civil Society Returned to South Gate

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 107-110:
Like the PRI in Mexico, Albert and his allies had seemed invincible. But in the end, like the PRI, they folded because there wasn't much left to hold them up. South Gate voted by an eight to one margin to recall Albert Robles and his allies. Some eight thousand voters turned out—small compared to the twenty-six thousand registered voters in town, but four times more than usual. People formed lines twenty deep to vote.

Albert Robles was recalled, along with Moriel, Ruvalcaba and silent Maria Benavides. Elected in their places were Steve Gutierrez, Greg Martinez, and Maria Davila. Rudy Navarro was elected treasurer.

Remarkably, though, the battle still wasn't over. Albert and his allies had succeeded in postponing the recall so that it was held only a few weeks before the regularly scheduled election in March 2003. Six weeks after the January recall, everyone had to run again. It was the fifth South Gate election in five years.

By now, though, Albert Robles's name stained anyone near it. The coffee klatches, Community In Action, the press coverage, and the D.A. investigations combined to arouse the people of South Gate. Neither Albert nor his allies campaigned.

Instead, in their last week in office, Robles and his managers wrote city checks for $2.1 million, mostly to lawyers. South Gate's assistant finance director told the Los Angeles Times that he was forced to take much of the money from the city's rainy-day reserve fund, while Albert, City Manager Jesse Marez, and several attorneys stood over him....

In the weeks that followed the March 2003 election, South Gate showed signs of returning to normalcy. At the first council meeting, Fr. John Provenza declared the first council meeting after the recall to be "a great day for the city of South Gate, a day when we can rejoice in the hope for democracy." Community In Action started up again. The new city council addressed issues like street-sweeping fees and declared one week to be "Always Buckle Children in the Back Seat Week." People who got up to speak at council meetings were not ejected. The council chambers were packed. The high attendance probably wouldn't last long, but I thought it was nice to see nonetheless.

After the election, I dropped by the office of Rudy Navarro, who'd just been elected city treasurer. Rudy was twenty-three. He said he'd just graduated from San Diego State University with degrees in finance and political science. He wanted to go to law school, but for the moment he was the treasurer of a nearly bankrupt city. State auditors were coming to inspect South Gate's books.

"We gave away a house!" he began, still incredulous. "The day after they left office, we stopped a half a million dollars from going out."

The city's payroll had risen from 340 employees to 570 in two years, he said. Contractual landmines were everywhere, and the city would be paying for them for years. The new police uniforms. The attorneys. The police badges. The loans to George Garrido. The $3.2-million Community Services Department that did nothing. South Gate looked like a dictatorship after the dictator had fled.

Still, Navarro had a healthy attitude toward it all. "To me, it's a golden opportunity," he said. "It's tough on six hundred dollars a month, but ... I have this opportunity to do something great, and you can't beat that."

22 November 2007

How Caudillismo Came to South Gate

From Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, by Sam Quinones (U. New Mexico Press, 2007), pp. 77-79:
Albert [Robles] had arrived in 1991 as a young Latino eager to get involved, someone people wanted to help. But by 2000, folks active in city politics saw him as a Latino Joe McCarthy, a bully unacquainted with scruples....

Albert showed himself willing to fully use the perks of elected office. As treasurer, he hired a staff of four for what had always been a one-person job. He ran for the water-district job promising to abolish the district that "sucked money out of the pockets of people." Yet as board member, he charged the district more than sixteen thousand dollars for classes in acting, finance, flight simulation, and seminars by inspirational speaker Tony Robbins. Robbins held particular fascination for Albert, and he often attended the speaker's seminars, rising to hold a platinum membership in Robbins's business.

People routinely began to describe Albert as "evil," with no hyperbole intended. Later, Mexican immigrants would call him the cucuy—the boogeyman. People watched him with the same awe and horror as they might a passing hurricane. They spent hours thinking about him, analyzing his tactics and motives, sputtering at his audacity.

"He's the best villain ever," said Frank Rivera, a leader in South Gate's police union. "He's a short, fat little guy who gets all the money, all the women, all the cars, and he doesn't go away until the end of the movie. And even at the end of the movie there's still a chance for him to come back and grab you. That's Albert Robles. He is the cucuy. You can't even mention his name without fearing that he might have somebody listening. If he were a pinata, I could honestly get people to line up for some stick time on him."

Albert's life attracted bizarre rumors. It was hard to know what was true. Still I took the rumors as at least a sign of how people thought of him and, after a while, of what they were willing to believe. He was said to be a great follower of Sen. Huey Long, the populist from Louisiana. He was said to have photos of John F. Kennedy and Adolf Hider on his wall. He was obsessed with guns and owned many. People said he ate bread and sweets to excess and that this was one reason his moods swung so wildly and why he never quite won the battle with his paunch. His mother was supposed to have cared for comedian Richard Pryor after Pryor lighted himself on fire smoking cocaine. Robles's father was supposed to have once been a Roman Catholic priest, leaving the priesthood to marry Robles's mother. His father had an affinity for great philosophers. Robles's brother was an ex-convict named Mahatma Gandhi Robles.

What was undeniable was that by 2000, Albert had assembled an impressive array of enemies: city unions and business owners, white seniors, and a good many Latino politicians; and soon, the editorial board of every newspaper in the area. Pastors at South Gate churches usually avoided politics. But Fr. John Provenza, the local Roman Catholic priest, eventually blessed a campaign kickoff of a Robles opponent. He noted in a bulletin to his congregation that three Robles opponents regularly attended mass. Provenza and Lutheran minister Chuck Brady spoke at a rally of Robles's opponents.

"We pray for Albert," said Brady. Robles, in turn, called himself David confronting the establishment's Goliath. He was a friend of the little guy whom the political elite had ignored. "Competition in these small cities was nonexistent. Now there's competition," he told me. "That's why you see people trying to knock down the Albert Robleses of the world. Albert came to fill a need for leadership within the Latino community."

As I spent time in South Gate, it seemed to me that Albert was an essay in the contravention of small-town political customs. In most small towns, councilmen have lives and full-time jobs outside city hall. In California, they receive only $600 a month in salary to ensure that politics remain community service. Indeed, everyone in South Gate politics had outside jobs and families. Only Albert did not. He lived from income derived from his jobs as city treasurer ($75,000 a year, until a referendum reduced it to $600 a month) and water-district board member ($40,000 a year). Later, when he was running the entire city government, his council created the job of deputy city manager, at $111,000 a year, and hired Albert. Thus he had the time, desire, and eventually the money to devote to politics.

20 November 2007

Overview of Southern Immigration

The latest issue of Southern Culture (vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 24-44; Project Muse subscription required) contains an article by Carl L. Bankston entitled New People in the New South: An Overview of Southern Immigration (voluntary immigrants only; not slaves). Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye.

Old South
In 1850 Louisiana had the largest concentration of immigrants in the South, about 75,000 people and approximately one-quarter of Louisiana's free population. New Orleans, the largest port in the South and the second largest in the nation after New York, was a natural point of entry for people from other countries. Between 1820 and 1860, over half a million immigrants arrived in Louisiana. Given Louisiana's French history and the large French-speaking population in the state during the nineteenth century, it is easy to assume that France would be the place of origin for most of the state's foreign-born residents. Many immigrants to Louisiana were, in fact, from France. About 15,000 people in Louisiana in 1850, or one out of five immigrants in the state, gave France as their birthplace. The largest immigrant group in Louisiana, though, came from Ireland. An estimated 26,580 Louisianans, or nearly 38 percent of the state's immigrants, were born in Ireland in 1850. The Irish are generally described as having arrived in Louisiana in two waves. Those known as the "Old Irish" came primarily from the northern part of Ireland between 1803 and 1830. These earlier immigrants became part of the middle classes of New Orleans. The "New Irish," consisting mainly of peasants, left their homes because of poverty and famine, particularly after the potato blight, which hit Ireland about 1845 and lasted into the following decade, leaving Ireland devastated. They settled in the area known as the City of Lafayette, which was later incorporated into New Orleans and is still identified as the Irish Channel. The New Irish provided much of New Orleans's low-paying manual labor.

Germans made up the second largest immigrant nationality in antebellum Louisiana. Over 20,000 people in the state in 1850, or 28 percent of all immigrants, had been born in Germany. Germans first arrived at the port of New Orleans when Louisiana was a French colony. Many settled just north of New Orleans in the Parishes of St. John and St. Charles, in an area known as the Côte des Allemands, or German Coast. A second wave of peasant German workers followed the first wave of German settlers between 1820 and 1850.
New South
As a consequence of geographic access, Texas's main immigrant population is Hispanic or Latino, yet Texas also has a substantial Asian minority (see Table 1), attributable to some extent to the general rise in Asian migration around the United States and to the booming economy in Texas cities such as Houston. In 2000 the Vietnamese were Texas's single largest Asian immigrant group, accounting for one out of every four foreign-born Asian Texans, and the state had the second largest Vietnamese population in the United States, after California, with 12 percent of all Vietnamese in the United States.

The case of the Vietnamese illustrates the importance of Texas as a point of access even for members of these more distant national-origin groups. Initial U.S. government resettlement efforts in 1975 had planted Vietnamese communities in the cities of Dallas and Houston. Additional Vietnamese Americans were drawn to Texas by the existing ethnic communities, combined with the availability of jobs in that state. Shrimping became something of an ethnic specialty for Vietnamese Americans along the Gulf Coast of Texas and other states....

As a world center, Atlanta has attracted a diverse Asian population. The largest grouping of Atlanta's Asians in 2000 consisted of people from the South Asian subcontinent, with just under 36,000 Asian Indians, over 1,000 Bangladeshis, and well over 3,000 Pakistanis. At that time, Atlanta was also home to nearly 25,000 Vietnamese, close to 22,000 Koreans, and just under 21,500 Chinese. Largely members of an educated work force, the South Asian migrants were drawn to this international-airport-hub city by its professional, white-collar opportunities in professional, scientific, and technical industries, which in 2000 employed one in five of the Asian Indians in the metropolis.

As in Texas, the Vietnamese first came to Atlanta as part of government resettlement efforts, and the initial Vietnamese communities provided bases for secondary migration from other parts of the country while Vietnamese job seekers looked for work. They found it in the blue-collar sector, with nearly one-third of Atlanta Vietnamese occupied in the city's manufacturing industry in 2000. Koreans, as in New York and Los Angeles, became the small shopkeepers of Greater Atlanta, with about 22 percent of Koreans in retail trade. Chinese, like the South Asians, had often come with educational credentials to seek jobs in professional, scientific, and technical fields, which held 17 percent of the area's Chinese workers. Other Chinese migrants tended to go in to restaurant and related work, as accommodations and food services held 16 percent of the city's Chinese workers. A diversified metropolitan economy with global connections had pulled in workers from all over the world into a mosaic of national-origin specializations.

First English Usages of 'Barbecue'

The latest issue of Southern Culture (vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 138-146; Project Muse subscription required) contains an article by John Shelton Reed entitled There's a Word for It—The Origins of "Barbecue" that contains this little gem.
The earliest use of the English word that I've encountered comes from 1661, when Edmund Hickeringill's Jamaica Viewed reported that animals "are slain, And their flesh forthwith Barbacu'd and eat," but by 1689 in a play called THE Widdow Ranter OR, The HISTORY of Bacon in Virginia, "the rabble" fixing to lynch one Colonel Wellman cry, "Let's barbicu this fat rogue." That the word could be used casually on the stage shows that by then it must have been familiar to London audiences. (The play was written by the remarkable Aphra Behn, the first Englishwoman to be a professional writer, and "Bacon" in the title refers to the leader of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, not to side meat.) About the same time, the Boston Puritan Cotton Mather used the word in the same gruesome sense when he reported that several hundred Narragansetts slaughtered by New England troops in 1675 (among them women, children, and elders burned in their lodges) had been "terribly Barbikew'd."

19 November 2007

Kosovars Sick of U.N. Occupation

Sunday's Washington Post reports on the frustrations of Kosovars under occupation by the U.N.
PRISTINA, Kosovo   My cabby curses at the white Nissan Patrol blocking a teeming intersection in Pristina. The SUV's driver, a Pakistani U.N. worker, desperately jerks the gearshift while angry hooting builds from the cars behind him. Something inside my cabby snaps, and he roars with laughter: "First the Turks. Then the Serbs. And now? We are invaded by Pakistan!"

That's right, he called the U.N. worker an invader. But you can hardly blame him. The man driving the Nissan Patrol is part of the most extensive U.N. operation in history, one that wore out its welcome long ago....

To understand this resentment, consider the case of a 70-year-old Kosovar widow who awoke one morning in December 2000 to find her telephone disconnected because of an unpaid bill. The bill wasn't hers, she protested -- it belonged to the international manager of Kosovo's power company named Joe Trutschler who rented her home in Pristina. When the telephone company contacted him about the bill, he denied responsibility for the calls, even though they were made to his home phone number in Germany.

The widow didn't give up. She didn't have much choice: The bill was for the equivalent of $5,100, a year and a half's salary in Kosovo. But when she appealed to U.N. officials, they claimed no responsibility for an employee's private activities, she said. She filed a complaint at the local court in Pristina, only to learn that, as a U.N. employee, Trutschler enjoyed immunity in Kosovo.

Trutschler, who got his job with a bogus résumé that was never checked by U.N. officials, didn't just bilk his landlady. In 2003, he was convicted in Germany of embezzling the equivalent of $4.3 million from the Kosovo power company, and he was recently named in newspaper reports as one of 11 suspects being investigated for bilking $10 million from the water company. Meanwhile, the widow's phone is still dead.

Only 30 percent of Kosovars have faith in the United Nations, according to a U.N. bulletin in fall 2006 -- half the number that believed in the international administration four years ago. Fifty percent of the population is prepared to participate in organized protests against the world community, U.N. reports say. It's easy to see why. Kosovars have watched fraudsters use U.N. immunity to escape justice and seen foreign companies pocket millions of dollars in aid without delivering meaningful results....

Kosovo's gross domestic product is scandalously low. Kosovars use soap from Bulgaria and wear T-shirts from Taiwan. Their flour comes from the Czech Republic and their drinking water from Hungary. As long as Kosovo remains a U.N. protectorate, a non-country, outside business investments will never come.

But what investments do you need to grow cucumber? While their own fields lie fallow, Kosovars eat tomatoes from Turkey and lettuce from Italy. It pays better to sell chewing gum to internationals than to toil in the fields. And eight years after the war, the local courts appointed and supervised by the United Nations still have not sorted out who owns the fields.

The United Nations could argue that it lacks the funds to pay judges. But then why does it pay an employee from Sierra Leone more than $11,000 per month to teach Kosovars how to run their railroads? The Kosovar railroad workers, who survive on just over $200 per month, were more than a little offended to learn that Sierra Leone's last trains stopped running in 1975. Their teacher was an expert on harbors.

U.N. top brass knows full well that Kosovars are losing patience. Last year Inga-Britt Ahlenius, U.N. undersecretary general for internal oversight services, warned if the administration continued to ignore corruption, the whole mission could be jeopardized. "[T]he reluctance by senior Mission management to address fraud and corruption will have a devastating impact on public perception inside and outside of Kosovo," she wrote.
via LaurenceJarvikOnline

UPDATE: Doug Muir at A Fistful of Euros wonders whether Kosovo is destined to become a Balkan Taiwan.

Rakes Muck Best From the Top

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass manages to tie together three prominent scandals and special investigations.
I love baseball, and I loathe Bonds. But baseball isn't the Oval Office and Democratic excuses for being sexually satisfied by an intern while you're on the phone with a congressman talking about sending American troops to the Balkans. Baseball isn't a list of names of foreign operatives that can be linked to a CIA officer outed only because the Republican Bush administration didn't like her husband's politics. Baseball isn't sacred. It's a professional sport. Bookies make a living on it.

This is what happens when we abandon the principle that no one is above the law, and exchange it for the warm comforts of partisanship. It's something many Democrats did years ago for the Clintons. They prattled on that lying under oath was OK as long as it involved sex. It wasn't. It was lying under oath.

It's something many Republicans did recently for the Bush administration, saying it was OK for "Scooter" Libby to lie under oath because he wasn't the original leaker in the Valerie Plame affair. It wasn't OK. It was lying under oath.

So, by rights, and by their own words, or by their slick avoidance of the issue, every Democratic and Republican candidate for president should join a Save Barry Bonds news conference, a bipartisan gathering, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, flanked by their eager media jesters....

Democratic and Republican candidates should stand at the Barry Bonds rally in front of a banner with a simple slogan:

"Barry Bonds was only lying about baseball."
Okay, I see the parallels, but I would add another set: Why single out the President, among all the philanderers in public office? Why single out the Vice President's office, among all the leakers in public office? Why single out Barry Bonds, among all the steroid users in major league baseball? Pentru că peştele se împute de la cap and rakes muck best from the top, perhaps?