sans everything is a blog on politics and culture written by John Haffner, Jeet Heer, A. M. Lamey, and Ian Garrick Mason.


Based in China, John Haffner is a consultant and writer supporting efforts to enable Asia’s transition to a low carbon energy future. As a consultant, he is working on projects related to smart grid development, rural electrification, low carbon transportation fuels, and clean technology transfer. As a writer, he is assembling a forthcoming series of profiles on clean energy leaders in China, and was lead author of Japan’s Open Future: an Agenda for Global Citizenship (Anthem Press, 2009). Haffner was a 2008 World Fellow at Yale University.

Jeet Heer is writing a doctoral thesis on the cultural politics of Little Orphan Annie at York University (Toronto). He is co-editor, with Kent Worcester, of Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (University Press of Mississippi, 2004). With Chris Ware and Chris Oliveros, he is editing a series of volumes reprinting Frank King’s Gasoline Alley, three volumes of which have been published by Drawn and Quarterly under the umbrella title Walt and Skeezix. He is also the editor of Clare Brigg’s Oh Skin-nay and is writing the introductions to a multi-volume series reprinting George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. His essays have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, the Literary Review of Canada, the Boston Globe, The (London) Guardian, Slate.com, and many other publications.

A. M. Lamey is a National Magazine Award winner and a former books editor and columnist for the National Post. He has written for The New Republic, the TLS and CBC Radio’s Ideas program.

Ian Garrick Mason is the founding editor of SCOPE, a global magazine of ideas and culture; his essays and reviews have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, The Walrus, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Globe & Mail, among other publications. He is also a photographer with a strong interest in the built environment: iangarrickmason.com

22 thoughts on “About

  1. Dear Fellows,
    there is an ambitious project for getting us all to communicate our best ideas with one another.

    BigThink.com is great place to introduce your working thoughts and discuss everyone else’s.

    All the Best, Frank……your new fan from South Carolina

  2. Thanks for the heads-up re BigThink.com, Frank. I heard about it a few days ago and gave it a quick glance. Haven’t explored it much, but my initial reaction is that listening to people speak is an inefficient form of communication when compared to reading and skimming text, so I’m not sure I’ll be a regular user of this YouTube of intellectuals. Still, let me know if I misunderstand its intent and use.

    – Ian

  3. Hello
    Apology for leaving my comment here, but I couldn’t find any other contact detail. I work for a magazine in Japan, and would like to contact John Haffner. Can someone please tell me his contact details? Thank you

  4. Hello
    Apology for leaving my comment here, but I couldn’t find any other contact detail. I work for a magazine in Japan, and would like to contact John Haffner. Can someone please tell me his contact details? My e-mail is cory@japaninc.com.

    Thank you

  5. Japan’s Open Future – A Religio-Cultural Economic Case Study in the Akihiro Mizuno Family of Nagoya



    I am a fairly big Anglo-Saxon brute (very “gaijin”) married into a Nagoya family that owns a fair bit of land and core business like large infrastructure construction, highway building,etc. They were descended from the Samurai that guarded the rice fields for the local lord, I believe. Fascinating family: wealthy, sophisticated, educated, the works.

    However, even more fascinating is the story of one of the Mizuno brothers, Akihiro Mizuno (known by not a few Japanese diaspora as ‘Brother Mizuno’), my father-in-law, who tossed out his brilliant career-track (after education in the best college education and fascinating work for the government of Japan’s cultural sector, all within the normally quiet, very nominal Shintoism of the Japanese landowning upper class) by learning English through the bible with a missionary he met in the street.

    He certainly learned English, but in the process of learning the language – through careful reading of the Bible – he became one of the most thoroughly convinced and believable (I actually found one!) Christians I have ever met. He then had the crap beat out of him by his brothers, one or two of whom misused their martial art to do so, and was then disowned by his family and class en bloc.

    Undaunted, he added insult to injury, by then going to Canada (to a wonderfully tiny place called Eston Full-Gospel Bible Institute in the blink-and-you-miss-it town of Eston, Saskatewan) to become trained as a minister and, to top it off, marry a foriegn national (a skinny farmer’s daughter) after bringing her back to Japan. This is all way back deep in the sixties.

    ,The marriage idea even scandalized his missionary handlers and they ordered him to wait three years till he married, so aware were they of the counter-cultural pressure the young couple would face). He pushed ahead and married her, in a year after he returned to Japan.

    In a strange and beautiful paradox, he then proceed to heal many of the familial wounds in the dynastic struggle of the Mizuno clan, precisely because he was an outcast who never made any claim to any part of the family fortune when it was time to transfer it to the next generation.

    So, after being disowned he became the darling of the family as a peacemaker, for which he was then miraculously given land anyway, despite the conversion of key clan members (his parents included) through his ministry, including dramatic, medically unexplained healing, all of which would normally brings shame in the Japanese high society of one of Nagoya’s wealthiest families.

    He then gave his land to the church and began planting Christian churches and a publishing company all over the area to become one the best known and loved pastors in all Japan and a mentor to many others in what is essentially, still a Christian underground pushing out from under the cultural shame a foriegn or ‘other’ religion brings. Also, he healed many divisions between different denominations in Japan as well, bridging even the Catholic and Protestant divide.

    When Billy Graham’s people, after careful historic inquiry, gathered the truly effective living evangelists from all over the planet to the pivotal World Congress on Evangelism (Amsterdam 2000) he was one of just two picked from Japan.

    He continues to fly all over the world with his wife sharing his story of a radical openness that can exist in a normally closed Japan and works as one of the top interpreters and cultural ambassadors for foreign Christian speakers when they come to Japan.

    To this day, unusual, miraculous, healing things continue to happen in and around this man and this family, the Mizunos, and I am happy and delightfully intimidated to have been married into a family that truly demonstrates Japan’s open future in another strange, sometimes dificult and wonderful way. This family also that produces fabulous and beautiful daughters; samurai-princess-warriors, that heal one’s heart just to look at them, let alone marry them. Half-Japanese people are often very beautiful and when they are preachers daughters, well, it just proved to be too much for me. I had to be part of this Japanese story.

    I hope Mr. Shaffner will contact me if he wishes to include this in his research as a case study of some the radical openess that can exist in and is changing Japan to a more open society. Where is Shaffner!

  6. This is a profound web page worthy of great study. I hope I can emulate its effort to showcase significant topics with rigor. I invite you to my site; I’ve only been blogging for one month. I see you’ve mentioned George Steiner, another formidable writer. Peace,
    William Holland

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  9. I am working on a book-blog which can be seen at [one word] theoryofirony.com, then clicking on either the “sample chapter” or “blog” buttons. My Rube Goldberg contraption of a brain processes the world with an odd, well-caffeinated kind of logic. Why is there an inverse proportion between the size of the print and the importance of the message? History. Art. Science. Religion. I call this eccentric thinking the Theory of Irony and if your busy schedule permits, why not give a read, leave a comment or create a link?

    P.S. Apologies if this seems like spam, it was sent by real live history junkie.

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