Tokyo Damage Report

books I wish existed

1) A list of all the ways that all major religions exploit loopholes in their own rules in order to “outwit God.” Like how Muslims can get killed for adultery, but can enter into a “short-term marriage contract” and thus fuck a hooker in a holy way. See also: all the ways that businesses in strict Islamic-law countries try to get around the seems-pretty-fucking-straightforward-to-me prohibition against charging interest. Or how Orthodox Jews can’t work on the Sabbath but they can hire a Gentile to throw light switches for them. Or how they have a rule against taking a baby outside on the Sabbath but if they string a long wire around their entire neighborhood, that somehow counts as “one big house” so they can bring their baby outside to visit friends. Unless some non-Jewish person in the neighborhood cuts the wire that runs through her backyard, in which case I guess all the babies go to hell? I love the idea that an all-powerful, all-knowing deity can be caught in a loophole of a law He created. “Shit! Not only did I see that loophole in My law, I’m somehow powerless to punish the mortals for clearly violating the spirit of My commands!” So fucking weird how religious people love to fuck around the God they so admire.
2) A book which compares vengeance across all different cultures. How is the Italian vendetta different from the Albanian blood-feud, and how are both different from good old Appalachian family fuedin’? Of course each country would be ranked on a giant line at the end.
fucking 3) How come I can’t find even a single book about the 1,000,000 procedural loopholes that congresspeople can use to sink or sabotage leglislation? Why are there so many books criticizing wall street, big corporations, and presidents, but nothing that takes on congress? I’m talking about things like earmarks, pork, poison pills, cloture votes, killing-in-committee, calling emergency votes after the other party has all left for vactation,eleventh-hour revisions, revisions made AFTER the bill has been passed into law (special comittes have to take the house version and the senate version of a bill and sort of smudge them together to create a functioning compromise bill, and sometimes they use this opportunity to insert a loophole that renders the whole bill nonfunctional or even makes it work in the opposite way!) and all the other juvenile tricks.
 I mean there are, what? like 100 books that make fun of Bush, and 200 books that all make fun of Obama, and all the million fucking pundit books with the same mad-libs-style titles “(bad past-tense verb)! How (group we don’t like) is screwing American taxpayers and how (group writer is pandering to) can take our country back!” . . .and yet there is seriously not ONE book on Amazon about . .. oh I don’t know. . . CONGRESS.
 A search for “congressional earmarks” turns up a handful of $250 Phd-level textbooks, but other than that, nothing.
I guess there’s a book by Lawrence Lessig called REPUBLIC LOST that deals with the way money corrupts congress, but even that book doesn’t begin to touch the specific methods and scams that the legislators use to implement the plans of their corporate overlords.
It just seems this is a shitty time for books in America. Like 90% of the people who buy books just want to be told “You’re in the good group, and the bad group are fucking everything up and fuck them.” These 90% of readers don’t really care about the specific processes and details of how shit gets fucked up.  In fact too many details and nuances might just muddy the pure black-and-white picture in their heads.
And another 9% are like the people who DO understand the details of things, economics, tax laws, high finance. . . . but they are professionals in these fields that have zero interest in explaining things to us mere mortals in language we understand.
 And then you have the 1%, oddballs like me, that DO want to know the details, the nuts-and-bolts, the specifics, of how corruption goes down behind the scenes, but we want it in plain English. And there are almost no books like that.
Or Japanese books would be nice.
4) A book collecting all the urban legends re; the abandoned Tokyo subway tunnels. Apparently there are more miles of secret or abandoned tunnels than miles of Parisian catacombs. The only urban legend I ever heard is about how the Imperial Family hid all their WWII stolen Asian treasures in the tunnels so they wouldn’t have to return the treasures. But you know there are tons of other legends/conspiracies.
5) A book collecting all the weirdest – not just most wasteful or expensive but just plain WTF – make-work jobs and goofy public works projects in postwar Japan. Most small towns have shitty economies because a) the federal government steals their municipal tax revenue, and b) the kids/jobs all moved to the big cities decades ago. So the small towns become part of a “patronage network” – where they give all their votes to a certain party or central politician, and in exchange he or she funnels federal money into bullshit jobs that don’t need to be done, just to give the town some sembalance of an economy. Usually these make-work bullshit jobs are like construction or “street patrols” that go on “campaigns” to reduce outdoor smoking or illegal bicycle parking or etc, but basically it’s a form of social welfare. And I just know that the construction or street patrols are merely the tip of the iceberg. There's got to be some fucking weird jobs out there.
Drug studies I’d like to fund if I was rich:
1)     Have experimental volunteers partake of all the drugs and rank their experiences based on how nostalgic for the past the drug makes them get. I bet alcohol would be by far the winner at “provoking feelings of nostalgia”. But it would be interesting to see who comes in second.
2)     Drugs and nonstop voice-in-your-head syndrome. (AKA type A personality). Study people who drink/do drugs (both addicts and “recreational users”) Include both Type A (inner monologue 24/7)  and Type B people (mellow fucks with no or slight inner monologues). Do type A people have a higher risk of addiction?   I wonder what percent of  addiction in Type A Personality people  is just  the result of people just trying to shut the voice in their head up.

3 Comments so far

  1. Riley February 28th, 2013 10:29 am

    I would love to read #1. 
    One example I can think of is when orthodox Jewish women (who are supposed to keep their heads covered from god), shave their heads and wear a wig.  So it only LOOKS like they are blasphemous.

  2. admin March 2nd, 2013 1:23 am

    @riley: perfect!

  3. Jay March 10th, 2013 9:41 am

    Great list.  One I would like to read (and maybe it's out there, I haven't searched exhaustively) is about the history and philosophy of police vs. society.  i.e., is it inherently an adversarial relationship, or are there situations where it's positive, and what makes it go right or wrong, considering views from both sides.  It's easy to hate police when you see them assaulting protesters or being brutal to suspects, but there are reasons these things keep happening, and it's not so simple as that they are bad people.

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