bipedal comments

Posted in: On climate, the elephant that's ignored See in context

Leave aside the apparently still debatable fact that our emissions hurt our planet. What I find incomprehensible is why we don't seem able to cooperate to reduce emissions seeing that the pollution we create hurts each and every one of us. We have polluted the air we breathe, the food and water that sustain us. Do we not care about our children's and grandchildren's health? Perhaps we could at least agree to cooperate for this pretty "selfish" reason.

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Posted in: U.N. meeting OKs two-part climate deal See in context

Procrasturbation at its best.

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Posted in: WikiLeaks founder turns to Switzerland for help See in context

[...]big bad cyber-warrior Assange now seeks refuge in a country with possible the strictest privacy standards in the world,[...]

No, he is seeking refuge in a country known for harbouring sex offenders (remember Polanski). Ah, the hypocrisy...

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Posted in: Japanese grappling with high cost of death See in context

Some operators had initially objected to the supermarket chain’s entry on grounds that would result in a price war and intensified competition, but emotions have calmed down with the realization that there’s enough business for everyone.

There is something morbidly disturbing about this statement.

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Posted in: Retailer Don Quijote pulls Nazi outfit after complaint See in context

Double standards and "forced democracy" all over again. How can democracy consist in forcing your views on others is beyond me. As always, some people take things out of context and thus inadvertently exaggerate their significance. A Nazi costume in Donki is not what it looks like to a person in in the US or Europe. And "guilting" people and making them apologize for things they don't really see the sense in apologizing for will not make the world a better place. If Jewish people are so concerned with Anti-semitism in Japan they should institute an educational centre here; now that would actually be productive. But I guess nowadays people are just concerned about the "veneer": as long as it looks OK on the surface, then the world is a brotherly, liberal, wonderful place... NOT.

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Posted in: See you later See in context

This is funny. Kan's making a face as if he's admiring Obama's backside :-). Nice catch.

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Posted in: Eat a carrot, hurt the economy? Sometimes See in context

“There are things happening in the rest of the world that this model didn’t account for,” said Julian Morris, executive director of International Policy Network, a London-based think tank. “The increasing demand for meat in Asia is substantial, ongoing, and might counteract any reduced demand in developed countries.”

Precisely. Plus, whichever country exports meat, can just as well export dairy products (including perhaps "artisanal" ones).

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Posted in: Japan's young generation pursues stability over promotion See in context

I would take this article with a big grain of salt. Perhaps young Japanese people are not ambitious, but I wonder if they can ever be, at least in the "Western" sense of the world. As some readers noted, in the Japanese context, work commitment, rather than work mobility (within or across companies), may be a better indicator of business vitality.

Also, it is a specious argument that high-quality research in Japan is predicated on conducting research abroad, visiting a particular class at Harvard, or obtaining a PhD from a US institution. Even though academic exchange is desirable because it may stimulate the generation of new ideas, I cannot see how it is either a prerequisite or a guarantee for high-quality research.

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Posted in: Fixing American 'dumbocracy' See in context

I wonder: seeing that tax revenue is so important for the USA, why the moronic immigration policy? For instance, how does lobbying for illegal low-skilled Mexican immigrants bring better tax revenue plus less burden on the judicial, healthcare, and educational systems, than encouraging foreign professionals educated in the top US universities to work in the US? Chinese and Indian scientists seem to be leaving the US in hordes because of president Obama's immigration lunacy (which is bizarre coming from a person with his background). In a country like the US, economic and immigration policies are necessarily intimately interconnected; it is only commonsense to adopt some classification of immigrants to distinguish skilled from unskilled labour. But then I guess big corps interests won't be served properly by virtually free disposable labour from poor and vulnerable Mexican people: Some resemblance to China in this respect.

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Posted in: Flying high See in context

On board, I always identify myself because I want to hear feedback from cabin crew and passengers, if I can.

Wouldn't it be wiser not to identify yourself, at least when talking to passengers?

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Posted in: Dutch roll See in context

@Nagoyalove: Well, I have lived in the Netherlands for quite some time and so am quite familiar with Dutch people and their ways, so I dare say it is not much of a generalisation I'm making when I say this is one more rudeness on top of all the arrogance. Unlike you, I'm putting this slogan into the right - Dutch - context. Use Google translate to go to any Dutch football forum and you can witness similar "manly" I'll-make-you-into-a-hamburger comments. Never heard a Japanese promise to make Dutch into olieballen or frites, though LOL.

As for the "being able to laugh at themselves": well, this IS a laughable statement for your part. I've heard so many Dutch people in all spheres of life admonish people around them to "not make fun of them" even when nobody was even trying to make fun of them at all. I find the banner in the picture offensive, especially at an int'l venue.

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Posted in: Dutch roll See in context

This is quite arrogant, but I am not surprised, being painfully familiar with the Dutch and their rude manner - evidenced in their game in this match too. I think they played rudely and clusmily and did not deserve to win, but were lucky. The Dutch remain what they are...

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Posted in: Constant drone of vuvuzelas killing World Cup atmosphere See in context

They sell these horns here in the Netherlands as well, only they sound more like a sick elephant to me. Extremely obnoxious, thank god here they only blow them when the Dutch team plays. Seems like good business for the Chinese plastic industry, and the hearing-aids industry, in a month. I pity the fans who attend and the players!

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Posted in: Talking trash See in context

@borscht These data are kind of old (1993?). Note, they list Czechoslovakia.

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Posted in: On-line shopping site brings Italian food, lifestyle products to Japan See in context

Wow, their prices are high - almost 1000 yen for a ball of mozarella, come on. Plus, I don't see much variety. Why does normal food have to be expensive?

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Posted in: On time See in context

Drab picture. Those cobblestones make for a hell of a bumpy ride, I can almost hear the teeth-chattering.

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Posted in: No nodding off See in context

LOL Next release of this gadget: "slight" electric shocks that get progressively stronger if you don't wake up. Sit up!

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Posted in: How long to learn Japanese? See in context

I had the same experience as timeon; I studied Japanese for basically a year to reach university level proficiency in reading, speaking, and listening skills.

However, this was a full-time commitment, and although it was numbingly hard, I don't think it qualifies as a comparison with these poor nurses' situation. If anything, my experience underscores how bizzarely unrealistic it is to expect these nurses to become proficient so fast.

Plus, there is good scientific evidence that spacing out learning enhances memory for the material:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/40063054.

Add exposure to natural Japanese and you can have nurses proficient in Japanese in a decent time period, about a year for full-time learning I guess. Unless, as some people have pointed out, the hidden strategy is to recruit "disposable" nurses. Oh, my.

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Posted in: N Korea warns of war if it is punished for S Korean ship sinking See in context

Seems to me that North Korea is the only country that has nothing to lose by launching such an attack, and that all other countries (South Korea, the US, China) do not have enough to gain (as compared to other non-military strategies). Thus, on the motive side, NK seems like a good candidate to have launched the torpedo.

As for capabilities, I am not sure if and how "backward" NK's military power is, because apparently they have been able to get hold of some sophisticated equipment, procured courtesy of... EU states, say Austria!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/03/100311_kim_ryul_hs.shtml

Now, how can it be possible to "contain" or "isolate" NK if they freely enjoy shopping in Europe? The mind boggles.

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Posted in: LCD panel for 3D glasses See in context

I think it's amazing that we don't yet know how people so effortlessly create a 3D image of the environment form 2 displaced 2D images, despite being able to simulate it through technology such as this one using time division.

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Posted in: De-cluttering your digital life can set you free See in context

I'm guessing it is recommended to change your password every 6 months because if it gets cracked it can be added to a database of passwords and used to crack other people's accounts. If you change your password frequently and well you are better able to avoid falling a victim to second-hand password cracking. Plus your previous password is less likely to end up in the password database. So the 6 months is probably a rough estimate of the speed at which password information spreads around, sort of.

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Posted in: Drainspotting: Japanese Manhole Covers See in context

@javnation "Yes, up until the 17th Centaury. Since then it is square and ugly and utilitarian. There is no beauty in modern Japan, just as there is no soul. Visit Europe and adjust your reference."

Right, only you WILL be able to see JUST the manholes as you MUST watch where you step: an assortment of dogshit, vomit, chewing gum, and broken glass etc. is never too far.

The Japanese manhole covers are interesting jewels. I also have taken some photos of them, so apparently they do make an impression to the people who notice them.

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Posted in: Anti-smoking 'monsters' have smokers on the run See in context

@peachy871: That's a good article, thanks. I have some reservations about their methodology though: 1)Did the participants really understand the questions ("upper respiratory tract infection?!"), and 2) could they really put themselves in such a situation and imagine what their decision about smoking will be? The results generally show that the more dependent a smoker you are, the higher the tobacco price needed to deter smoking. Yet, this finding could be interpreted alternatively: perhaps people who are more dependent THINK they would still be smoking if prices were double, because they know they are strongly dependent.

It would be interesting to see how this study's simulation compares to real-life smoking rates among similar people, that is, can their results predict what actually happens.

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Posted in: Anti-smoking 'monsters' have smokers on the run See in context

@ manfromamerica "Who says all nonsmokers want to ban smoking? I don't smoke either." Ahem, since you don't seem to mind smokers, you most likely have been smoking for quite some time, be it in a vicarious second-hand way.

Unbelievable to what lengths some people can go to rationalize their deepest fears. Not all social issues are about the government dictating you what to do, you know.

Governments, albeit ridden with shortcomings, are what keeps communities together at a very large scale; without some kind of govern-ment (i.e., manage-ment) anarchy quickly ensues.

If you have agreed to be a part of society and reap all the benefits from civilized living, I do not see how you can be so paranoid about THE government. People who really fear someone else imposing rules, trends, laws etc. on them become hermits.

Now, I wouldn't mind hermit-smokers somewhere out in the wild at all. But then they would have to grow their own tobacco there...

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Posted in: Anytime is fruit time See in context

@ goddog: I absolutely agree with you. There can't be a comparison with European fruit and vegetables, which look like they are intended for animal fodder: piled up, torn in pieces, mauled, tasteless.

Domestic growers here seem to be growing... air! In Amsterdam we currently get fresh mint leaves from Columbia, bell peppers from Morocco & Israel, green beans from Kenya and Egypt, and the list goes on and on, the most unbelievable locations. All produce is labeled "First class", but you have to be really gullible to trust this.

Plus, price-wise, a lot of fruits and veggies are more expensive here than in Tokyo (at least when out of season: around 8-9 months of the year), which is extremely weird seeing that the Netherlands is a major producer.

In Japan at least you know you're paying for the best, and of course, you get deals on "ugly" or overripe produce - a phenomenon unheard of here.

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Posted in: Anti-smoking 'monsters' have smokers on the run See in context

As widely acknowledged, smoking is a habit; people engage in it quite automatically, that is, without a lot of deliberation. An urge appears, you take out your pack and light up.

Obviously, smoking bears a lot of similarities to other addiction-like behaviour which can affect your health, such as eating tasty but unhealthy junk food. The general mechanism is the same: you see the cookies, salivate, and reach for them. Yum!

Considering this "automaticity" of addictions, one of the major benefits of anti-smoking laws is that such laws make the decision to smoke more conscious. You will literally have to go out of your way to the smoking area and smoke there, you will need to plan when to smoke so as not to disrupt your work schedule etc.

This in itself is quite a progress in helping people to quit. Making smoking more cumbersome in various ways is just like hiding those cookies at the back of your cupboard so that it's not easy for you to reach for them and gobble them up.

Laws, bans, and ordinances for restricted smoking not only change the concrete social norms about when and where it is acceptable to smoke, but, more importantly, such legislation changes the general perception of HOW acceptable it is to smoke at all.

A small study I did a couple of years ago in Tokyo showed that having only 1 friend, relative, romantic partner etc. in your social circle who smokes makes you about 7 times (!) more likely to be a smoker than a non-smoker. In other words, among people who have 1 or more close others who smoke, 7 out of 10 were smokers. Among people who did not have even 1 close other who smokes, 1 out of 10 was a smoker.

What your close others do DOES influence what you (choose to) do enormously. Beyond personal nagging by your friend or partner, what society can for smokers is to create a climate that encourages you as a smoker to quit. And this is where anti-smoking laws come into play, as I see it.

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Posted in: Anti-smoking 'monsters' have smokers on the run See in context

Regarding the ban: Very welcome news indeed.

At least in Japan if you confront a smoker in a non-smoking place you have some leverage. Can't say the same for the Netherlands where I happen to live now. At my university there are throngs of people, young and old alike, smoking just in front of the "No smoking within 7 metres of the building" signs. People are smoking at metro stations, bus and tram stops, where not. Even parks are not safe: once, I made room for this elderly couple to join me on a bench, but as soon as they sat down they started blowing their smoke in my face. When I asked them to please not smoke, because I was a non-smoker, their reply was "No can do, this is Europe, and it's European to smoke."

Despite all the smokers in Tokyo and the lack of anti-smoking laws, I was much less smoked at in Tokyo than here, mind you! Get those smoking bans fast, Japan.

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