Late trains and crowdedness

Yesterday, the trains into work were over an hour late (a relative rarity here in japan). Luckily I had decided to take the local in that morning so I had a seat and a book. I didn’t really mind much. A couple times along the journey though the train on the other side of the platform would get into town a couple minutes quicker than the one I was on (either expresses or at one point we caught up to another local). In each case, my train would completely empty as people would cram themselves into a train that will get them to work a couple minutes less late. (Its worthy to note that in Japan trains being late is like a get-out-of-jail-free-card for lateness). I just don’t get it sometimes.

Canada’s trade balance goes negative

Canada, a modern economy whose export focuses on natural resources, has crossed form its historically large trade balance have moved into the negative. According to Statistics Canada (longer range chart here)  the trade balance has been historically between  2 and 6 billion dollars from the mid 90s onwards with a steady rise throughout the Chretien years and a slow decrease through the Harper years until the financial crisis of 2008 took a 5+ billion dollar surplus and turned it into a negative one. Over the last year or so the trade balance has been hovering around 0 and descended down to as much as -2.7 billion for August 2010.

Reduced economy size and demands for natural resources around the world has certainly put a damper on how much Canada can export. Canada’s economy won’t turn around until we can get this number way back into the positive where it belongs.

Greenpeace event – Tokyo Two

I went to my first Greenpeace event even on Friday last week. It was a talk show type event with the main guests being Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki (short article here).  They are standing trial for theft of whalemeat in an effort to expose corruption.

I strongly support their cause and they had a lot of interesting things to say but as a whole I was pretty disappointed by the event. The talk show portion lasted 3.5 hours (which is really quite a long time to be sitting down listening to a panel) and included many guests. However upon its conclusion the moderator said that they had run out of time in the venue and that we had to leave. Consequently there was absolutely no time to chat with other people and everyone filed straight out the door.  I thought it was quite disappointing because I was hoping to be able to meet people and be able to exchange information/views. It was entirely a one way type event as no questions or comments were taken from the audience and once the speakers finished everyone filed right out the door and the speakers straight into the backstage area (except for Junichi Sato who did stay for a couple minutes near the stage).

The full 3.5 hours can be seen here:

Part 1

Part 2