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06 October 2007

"The Great Gatsby" Poor Guy

That is what I felt.

I read the book and saw the movie which Robert Redford was in. I was never impressed by the story. Actually boring.

It is interesting to note the original novel was published in 1920's. It was Golden Age before Great Depression era.

Maybe the author wanted to criticize America's materialism.

Daisy Buchanan, whom Gatsby longed for years might symbolize that materialism.

But that materialism was after all, illusion. "American Dream" which you call.


Now in the U.S. more than 30 million people are in hunger and 45 million don't have medical insurance.  

Poor young people are being recruited by the military and sent to fight in Iraq. They do not have other jobs. After they come back home from the battlefield, they become homeless.

America is not rich country any more.

16:45 Posted in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: gatsby, literature

30 September 2007

Dear Britons: "A Little Princess, Sara Crewe"

Following "Dear Canadians" Series, this post is for other English speaking people than Americans. This time is for Britons. Actually the home country for English language. But the fact of the matter is English used worldwide is American. I've heard from one British guy, American English is Shakespear's era's. British English is in fact more advanced.


Anyway, the topic of the post is my favorite British book, "A Little Princess." It was written by Francis Hodgson Burnett. The story took place in 19th century London. A rich man's daughter named Sara Crewe entered Girls' Dormitory school. She had received special treatment by the school. But when the news that her father died and lost all of his fortune came, her life drastically changed.


The interesting point is Sara was a very unrealistic character, how could a girl raised in such a wealthy environment be so nice to anybody? That should not happen in real life. The point is people around her were very realistic. Miss Minchin, a principal of the school who treated her like a slave after the death of her father was very realistic character that you can find anywhere in the world such as your boss in your company.


People are greedy. That is the very lesson I learned from this book when I first read in my childhood. In other words, you can't be arrogant even when you are very rich and powerful. Your life can be easily changed by the current.


The book also gave me a negative image of British people like cold-blooded, and feudal minded. Maybe that is not true any more. The story is 19th century.


The story is very popular in Japan among children since it was made into cartoon programs. Visit and see the show if you are interested.

19:35 Posted in Books, Britain | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: literature, Class gap

06 September 2007

Dear Canadians: "Anne of Green Gables"

The purpose of this blog is to send messages to American readers. But since this is written in English. I believe other English speaking people should be reading. So I decided to post messages to them from time to time.


Today, I write an article for Canadians. The topic is "Anne of Green Gables." The book was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908.


When we hear Canada, the first thing to come up with is this story. Many people in Japan know that. The story is introduced in Japanese school textbooks. It became popular cartoon program. You can see the program by clicking on this site. My family watched that show.


The story took place on Prince Edward Island in the end of 19th century. An orphan girl named Anne, came to the island. She was wainting for a farmer named Mathew Cuthbert. Mathew and his sister, Marilla was planning to adopt an orphan boy who could help their work in the farm. At first, they were upset with Anne's arrival but later they came to like her and decided to adopt her. Anne was talkative and imaginative girl. She met wonderful people and had wonderful experiences on the island.


In Japan, translated version was first introduced in 1950's. The title in Japan is "Akage-no-Anne (Anne of Red Hair)." If you have read this book, you know how "Red Hair" is important words in this story.

 The most impressive words I read in the book was "Without my imagination, I could never go through such hardships in my life." I really think imagination is very important in our life.

Kind of girlie version of "The adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain, the story was in fact reflected by the author's childhood memories on the island.


One Canadian guy I know told me Prince Edward Island, which they call PEI is boring place. He said the island wastes tax by getting provincial status. But this place is very famous for the place of this story among Japanese people. A lot of Japanese tourists visit there. Anne contributed to Canada's tourism industry.  


Surprisingly, Canada's closest neighbor, Americans don't know this book. Even a teacher of English literature in college.

Americans should know such a wonderful story exists in their closest neighboring country.  


21:15 Posted in Books, Canada | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: literature

10 June 2007

Paris Hilton and other Americans

I just know the news Paris Hilton was ordered to return to the jail.

She was once released after her 3 days of imprisonment because of her medical condition. There was enormous criticism that she could have been released because of her fame and family's wealth.

This incident and Paris Hilton herself represent what is going on in America.

In Japan, a book "Cho-kakusa-shakai America no shinjitsu (Super Class society, The truth of America)" was published. It was written by Japanese economist, Yumi Kobayashi. She contends there are 4 distinctive classes in America.

The first is High-Society that Paris Hilton belongs to. In this class you have nothing to worry about. They are ruling class and their assets are secured. They control economy, politics and media. Even their offsprings do not have to worry. It is like middle-age European aristocracy.

The second is professional rich like IT tycoons such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They are smart and succeeded what they want by their talents. They seem to represent "American Dream."

But there are two other classes that are left behind and growing.

One is poor class and the other is dropped-out. The middle-class is shrinking.

They are so poor that they cannot even get an opportunity to succeed. They grow up in families that cannot afford to send them to proper schools. Higher education costs so much money. Yes, US schools usually provide scholarships. But in order to be awarded scholarships, students have to have certain level of education. The schools they come to simply cannot provide that.

America used to be called "land of opportunity" where no matter how poor you are born, you all have opportunity to go to higher class. But the things have changed now.

But why that happened is easily explained. First America's system of wealth distribution had not been changed drastically since the Civil War. For example, our country, Japan's wealth distribution system was drastically changed by the war that ended in 1945. Japan was forced to redistribute the wealth by new authorities which was controlled by US occupied force. Ruling class of pre-war era lost so much fortune. Such things never happened unless the country experience the war or revolution.

Also, America's middle-class wealthy life-style that was appearent in 1950's and 60's was in fact supported by the fact that the world wealth was concentrated in America until those days. Other countries suffered from the loss of the war. Enormous amount of wealth was poured into Americans so that most of Americans could receive high standard of living.

After recovery of those nations, America was no longer the only key player for the world economy. Naturally in free market society, winner grow and losers shrink. The gap between the two is getting bigger and bigger. The result is now. Only top 5% occupy 60% of the wealth. 45 million people don't have medical insurance. 31 million are in hunger.

Maybe we should rethink about America's economical system and its value.

I do not care Paris Hilton goes to jail or not. But I am dissappointed to know that a girl who just happened to be born in a very rich family is spotlighted so much. She is treated like feudal society's princess.