The Rising Sun’s Empire | Stayin’ Alive in 2019 | The Eating Manifesto

APRIL 2, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“Too lazy to be ambitious,

I let the world take care of itself.

Ten days’ worth of rice in my bag;

a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.

Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?

Listening to the night rain on my roof,

I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.”

– Ryokan

“I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.” – Britney Spears




The Age of The Rising Sun: Japan is known for customs, traditions, beautiful manners—and names carefully selected for each Imperial era that begins when a new emperor ascends the throne. The concept of Imperial eras comes from the ancient Chinese idea that the emperor rules even time itself. Japan has had 247 era names since 645 A.D., but not until the start of the Meiji era in 1868 was a single name used for a single emperor. An era’s name represents the zeitgeist of a period, just as the Roaring ’20s and Swinging ’60s encapsulated different decades in America, or how the British remember the Victorian Age as a time of colonial expansion abroad and Protestant morality at home.

So it is that 2019 will be Reiwa 1, the first year of Japan’s new era, beginning May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito takes over the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father, Emperor Akihito. The 85-year-old emperor’s 30-year era has been the Heisei, which means “achieving peace.” The period has lived up to its name as the first in Japanese history when military conflict was avoided. Akihito not only did much to restore the image of Japan’s monarchy, but also helped heal the wounds of war and promote a modern image of his nation as peace-loving. But the Heisei has also been a troubling time, beginning with a real estate downturn, followed by decades of economic stagnation. Moreover, Japan could only look on as it was slowly outpaced by its much larger rival, China.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at a news conference Monday on the origins of the name “Reiwa,” symbolized by two kanji characters roughly translating as “good fortune” and “peace” or “harmony.” The name was carefully selected as a harbinger of hope for the future in turbulent times. Reiwa will be an era when Japan must grapple with an aging and shrinking population, and alleviate labor shortages by enticing more women to become employed, and by bringing in more foreign workers.

Additional songs: The 5th Dimension Age of Aquarius 1969 and The Animals – House of the Rising Sun




Turkey’s Tipping Point: The Turkish ruling party of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development (AKP) has been in power for 25 years. Erdogan himself swept into office 16 years ago on a platform of strong economic growth. But an eight-month currency crisis has tipped the country into recession, with an almost 20 percent inflation rate and rising unemployment. Despite a relentless campaign effort prior to Sunday’s vote, Erdogan now faces losing control of Turkey’s two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, in a stunning local election setback that could complicate his plans to combat recession. Urban voters largely supported the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which sources predict will mean a cabinet shuffle and other changes among those close to Erdogan. (Reuters)

Stayin’ Alive in Afghanistan in 2019: For the second time in less than a year, Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has survived an assassination attempt over the weekend. Taliban insurgents twice attacked Dostum’s convey as he traveled from the northern province of Balkh to neighboring Zawzjan province. One security guard was killed and several wounded. Dostum is a controversial figure, known as a former warlord who was criminally accused of rape and torture of a political rival. He fled to Turkey in 2017, but returned to Afghanistan in July 2018. Shortly after his arrival at Kabul’s international airport, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a traffic circle at the airport’s exit, killing 20 people, including nine members of Dostum’s security detail. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack. (NPR)

Gaza’s Bloody Saturday: Thousands of Palestinian protesters gathered at the Gaza border Saturday to mark the first anniversary of demonstrations against Israel for its continuing blockade on the territory. The Israeli army said it used tear gas in response to protesters hurling stones and grenades at the border fence, but one 20-year-old and three 17-year-old demonstrators were killed by Israeli troops, and dozens more were rushed to hospitals with bullet wounds. Prior to Saturday’s “March of Return” at least 16 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,000 injured along the border in clashes with Israeli troops on Friday. The UN Security Council had called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation Friday night. (NPR)

First Time For Everything: A liberal environmental activist and political newcomer was elected Slovakia’s first female president Saturday. Zuzana Caputova garnered 58 percent of the vote running against corruption in government. Her opponent was European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, a diplomat backed by the county’s governing Smer-Social Democracy party. Caputova’s campaign slogan was “stand up to evil.” She vowed to shake-up the political establishment, which she said is currently run “by people pulling strings from behind.” Speaking to supporters Caputova said “I am happy not just for the result, but mainly that it is possible not to succumb to populism, to tell the truth, to raise interest without aggressive vocabulary.” Immediately after her victory, Caputova lit a candle at a memorial for the assassinated journalist, Ján Kuciak, and his fiancee, Martina Kusnírová. (NPR)

Additional World News




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Snapping Down on Agriculture: In 2016 SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, had roughly 4 million able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) receiving food stamps. About three-fourths of those people weren’t working, according to the US Department of Agriculture which administers the program. The Trump administration believes because overall unemployment is low, the ABAWDs in the program should work, volunteer, or get job training for at least 20 hours a week. That’s already the law, but many states waive that requirement in high unemployment areas. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants to make those waivers much harder to get. It’s all part of a broader effort by the administration to impose tighter work requirements on recipients of government aid, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid.

Pursuant to administration mandates, Arkansas implemented requirements last summer forcing some Medicaid recipients to work to maintain benefits. More than 18,000 enrollees have since lost their healthcare coverage. Last week a federal judge stopped Arkansas from continuing its program and blocked Kentucky from starting one. The judge reasoned that approval of work requirements by the Department of Health and Human Services “is arbitrary and capricious because it did not address … how the project would implicate the ‘core’ objective of Medicaid: the provision of medical coverage to the needy.” An expert who opposes the SNAP rule said there’s no evidence receiving food stamps discourages work; another said threatening to take away people’s food won’t help them get a job, but it does mean more people will go hungry. (NPR)




Mission Impossible – Whopper Edition: Coming soon to a Burger King near you—the Impossible Whopper! This week the fast food chain is rolling out a beefless version of its iconic sandwich, made with a vegetarian patty from the startup Impossible Foods. It will initially be available at 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area, but plans are to expand the menu item to all 7,200 national locations. Silicon Valley’s Impossible Foods is part of a young industry trying to mimic and replace meat with plant-based alternatives.

It was founded in 2011 by former Stanford professor Pat Brown, who became a vegan soon after graduating college. 64-year-old Brown set out to find a way to decrease the world’s reliance on animal agriculture, but knew consumers would only make a change if they had a product that satisfied their cravings for beef. (Flashback — Wendy’s 1984 — “Where’s the Beef ?”) The fledgling industry has already had some mainstream success. Beyond Meat makes a vegetarian burger that’s been available at over a thousand Carl’s Jr. restaurants since January. (NYT, YouTube)




“Use the apple test. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.”

“There’s a lot of money in the Western diet. The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three quarters of the $2 trillion plus we spend each year on health care in this country) than preventing them.”

– Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, is one of our favorite short, fast, and enlightening books which has shaped how we think about eating. The book is available at your local public library.

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