Saturday, January 7, 2017

Traveling To Tokyo Again, with Some Deja Vu

I landed last night/earlier today (always fun to talk about time on the other side of the dateline) in Tokyo for two weeks of follow up interviews and talks where I trot out what I have learned thus far.  Everything was super smooth (see short movie reactions below), and I have some repeated realizations:
  • Stuff always seems to happen when I fly and am out of touch.  This time there is both the hacking report going public and a plagiarism scandal for the new admin.  I missed Trump's reaction but he was already engaged in pre-reacting, attacking the intel folks.  Not a good look.  I am starting to think that this admin should have a new bumper sticker: "Surprising? No. Appalling?  Yes"
  • Long flights are good for bad movies or movies that I would probably not see if I were not, um, a captured audience.
    • Never Go Back, the new Jack Reacher movie, was ok.  The basic problem, once again, is that Reacher is a huge guy and is a force of menace and destruction.  Tom Cruise is not, so it is hard to watch these movies if you are a fan of the books.  The plot was also changed around to film in New Orleans for some reason.  They did get both female parts right, with Cobie Smulders being far more well cast than Cruise.
    • Jason Bourne--what a silly movie.  Seems like the CIA can access the street cameras only sometimes.  A lot in messed up Greece but not at all in London which has cameras everywhere.  Just a dumb extension of a played out franchise.  The CIA assassin piles up a tremendous body count along the way, making Bourne look restrained.  Oh, and it was hard to root for Bourne since he was somewhat allied with Snowden/Assange type folks, if only accidentally.  Of course, the politics were dumb--Director of National Intelligence does not pick Director of CIA.... the President does that.
    • Pete's Dragon was sweet and fun, but I wouldn't see it ordinarily since I have no kid at home anymore.  
    • Shin Godzilla was terrific.  The latest Godzilla movie out of Japan focuses mostly on how the politicians and bureaucrats screw up the response, and it is only when they are marginalized/killed that a younger politician is able to implement a plan made by a bunch of outsiders--nerds!  It was more fun for me as I understood the terrain of the battle--where things in Tokyo are--as a result of my last trip here.  And given that one of my basic questions of this case study is "is the agency charged with overseeing Japan's Self-Defence Force an agent of the politicians or vice versa", the movie is pretty relevant for my work.
  •  Getting five hours of sleep is a victory the first night abroad.  Which is why I fly in on weekends to give myself time to adjust.  An important lesson learned after falling asleep on the couch of a Turkish General at NATO HQ in Naples.
Oh, and yes, I am superthankful that I will be in Japan and then in the air when Trump is inaugurated.  I can miss that anytime and twice on Sunday.


Rachel Zader said...

Thanks for your posts, again. Going to be following this - I'm hoping to be there at some point and see you have the whole Japan gestault down with all its esoteric bits. Love.

Steve Saideman said...

You're welcome. Today's lesson--be careful of going to more expensive Yakitori place. The stuff was great, but so much. Definitely recommend bullet train to Nagano if you want to ski or just get out of town. The ride is beautiful and I regretted not making time/bringing gear for skiing.