What I’m Reading
Bending Adversity – Japan and the art of Survival – David Pilling
The Japanese propensity to embrace adversity as a stepping stone for revolutionary change is embedded in its history, language and national character. Since the burst of its economic bubble in the 80’s, the Japan of the last 30 years has seen this once super-economic powerhouse caught in a caught in a quagmire of economic, political and social inertia.
In this excellent contemporary account of post tsunami/Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan, long term expat and Tokyo Financial Times editor, David Pilling probes the potential leverage points for needed change in a society that seems rigidly adherent to the status quo.
It’s a fantastic read for anyone interested in an updated sociological overview of Japan and the challenges it faces. Having lived in Japan and read many books in the past about the country from Don Ritchie to Van Wolferen and Alex Kerr, this is easily a book that can comfortably sit alongside those authors in terms of its readability and appeal. Highly recommended.
The Rational Male – Rollo Tomassi
Based on the accumulated wisdom and writings from the Rational Male blog, Tomassi focuses on the overarching concepts of managing relationships and navigating social dynamics.
It’s also a logical overview of what it means to be male in an ever changing social landscape and provides eye-opening advice for those blinded by a culture that operates in opposition and denigrates the concepts of masculinity.
This is the type of book you wish you could travel back in time and hand yourself in your younger years. However, as experience is usually the best teacher, it’s also advice that usually only becomes recognisable and relevant with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Still, there’s a number of worthwhile principles, axioms and tactics to absorb as food for thought that could be used and applied to navigate the shark infested waters of literally any arena of life.
Think of this as the 48 Laws of Power for relationships, or the Art of War (against one’s own self, feminism and the prevailing toxic, popular culture)
What I’m Watching
Fukushima: A Nuclear Story
3/11 marks the date of the triple disaster that hit northern Japan in the form of an earthquake, tsunami and the eventual Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. For a country that has firsthand borne the scars of nuclear tragedy and been subsequently opposed to its use as a fuel source, this disaster reaffirmed a nation’s collective worst fears.
Filmed by an Italian journalist who was one of the first on the scene, events are retold and explained using a combination of juxtaposed Japanese style manga and anime, camcorder footage and narration by actor Willem Dafoe.
Amazingly, dumb chance spared Tokyo from the brunt of full scale destruction from the disaster which was exacerbated by human error, negligence, corruption and denial.
Knowing how the Japanese authorities work, I can only imagine the true extent of the ecological and human damage that has already been sustained. Such things are usually significantly downplayed, and will only become apparent long after the silence continues to be complicity maintained.
Don’t let the crappy previews put you off. I had heard good things about this movie, but was blown away by the tight script, suspense and excellent acting (particularly from the darker than usual Bateman) I’ve been impressed with Edgerton since his early appearances (Warrior, Animal Kingdom) and his screen presence in this psychological thriller together with Bateman’s is undeniable.
If you’re a fan of those once great 90’s thrillers like “Cape Fear”, and “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, you’ll love this intelligently crafted, “gift” of a movie.
What I’m Listening To
Malcolm Gladwell, the author of well known bestsellers, “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers” recently released his own podcast dealing with some lesser known aspects of history. The most recent episode looks at Wilt Chamberlain and the history of underhand free throws as a focal point for why people persist in making bad decisions and bend to social pressure despite being confronted with overwhelming counter evidence to the contrary.
Gladwell is an excellent story-teller even if he sometimes lets a good narrative get in the way of the facts from time to time.
A show which has become one of my regular listens is the PED Radio podcast. It’s much better since they let go of two of their former hosts and bought on Jordan Peters – a prep coach from England. Peters has a tonne of experience working with guys like Milos Sarcev and Dr Scot Stevenson and it’s super enlightening to listen to his theories on contest prep and body recomp.
Quote of the Week
“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.” – Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood
“The definition of Power is not financial success, status or influence over others, but the degree to which we have control over our own lives” – Rollo Tomassi – The Rational Male
Recipe of the Week
Kjötsúpa – Icelandic Stew
Straight from the cauldrons of Viking, Eric the Red, I’ve been using this recipe from the Chaos and Pain archives for years as a solid winter staple.
Packed with a powerhouse of veggies and slow cooked with lamb on the bone, this is a perfect comfort food for those cold evenings. In consuming this, you can practically feel the insane level of nutrients kicking any winter virus’ ass while fortifying your immune system to superhuman or at the very least, Viking levels.
I’ve modified the recipe slightly to my taste:
2 tbsp macadamia oil
6 garlic cloves diced
2kg of lamb on the bone
1 large onion diced
1/3 cup of brown rice or oats
6 cups of water
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and cracked pepper to taste.
1/2 cabbage, roughly chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 turnip or rutabaga diced
4 small potatoes cut into small pieces
In a pan, sauté the onion, 2 cloves of diced garlic and the lamb over a medium heat for 2 minutes. (Do not brown)
Add the onions and lamb to a large pot together with 6 cups of water, rice and herbs on a low boil for 5 minutes.
Add macadamia oil, cabbage, carrots, turnip and potatoes and simmer on a low boil for 20 minutes.
Once done, add mixture to slow cooker and slow cook for 4 hours.