I'm in Shanghai

My first vision of Japan was a windmill. Not a Dutch style butter and grain thing attacked by Don Quiote, but one of those ultra modern white and metalic energy producers dotting the coast line of Japan near their airport. Unfortunately, although we were on the coast, we were also on final approach to Tokyo’s airport. Tokyo Narita Airport is not in Tokyo. In fact, it’s not even in the same state (or prefecture) of Tokyo, and is about 60 kms from Tokyo ($300 by cab). Tokyo Travel Hint #1–Nearly all the planes from the United States arrive in the same hour of the day, 3:00 to 4:00 PM. This means the lines at the immigration desk can get pretty hairy. I heard one veteran traveler call our line “moderate” but it was still 45 minutes from starting the line to getting my passport stamped. By that time, ours was the last bag left on the luggage claim and we headed through Customs. I was a bit nervous about Customs as Wei has two suitcases full of presents for China. No clothes–all of our stuff fit in two smaller bags, but just a ton of children’s toys, cosmetics, and some candy to spread amongst over 50 family and friends when we get to China. The last thing I wanted to do was declare all of this in Japan (eventhough it wasn’t going to end up in Japan). I managed to get an English-speaking Customs agent who asked how long I was staying and I just said “In transit to China in three days” so that greased the way and I was out. ]]>

Souped up Mars rovers head off to their death

CNN is reporting that the Mars rovers have turned off their collision avoidance systems (so they can go faster) and will be sent on “long drives into the sunset.” The NASA boys are going to just aim them in a specific direction and let them run until their batteries die out (how does a solar cell die???). Anyway, maybe they’ll run into something cool in a few weeks….]]>

French paper changes tone on US war

Iraqwar.info but it is a pretty important story so I’ll run it here as well. Le Monde has an editorial on the Spainish train bombing that is turning a lot of heads in Europe. In it speaks about the European form of terrorism that has been going on for years, of minor incidents and a few murders, which have become almost sort of routine, and now the new form of terror that affected Spain and the United States on September 11–mass terrorism. It also speaks about how Europe has not quite realized, until yesterday, the level of passion in the United States for the war against terrorism. Andrew Sullivan has some of the story translated in English.]]>