Christopher Bauer comments

Posted in: OpenAI chief seeks to calm fears on job losses See in context

No one seems interested in the environmental impact, or lack of one. How much extraction of raw materials is required for the increase in AI? What raw materials? Is an increase in energy demand foreseen and, if so, how much?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Woman, with only ¥10 on her, arrested after leaving restaurant without paying bill See in context

"Does she have any credit card?" "Or debit card." Credit cards and debit cards mean that one has money. You know that, right? Maybe you guys need to see a financial counselor before making any more purchases.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Posted in: Obama among international dignitaries expected at Abe state funeral See in context

The politics of the former prime minister are irrelvant; of course there must be state funeral. An assassination is in any nation, an offense against society. A state funeral is a morally offended civilization's stand against savagery.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: No more plastic cups — Starbucks Japan to get rid of plastic in stores with new initiatives See in context

Revolutionary! Why not go the next stop and try serving coffee in china cups with saucers. We could call it - oh, I don't know... a coffee shop?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Do you think Olympic athletes in any country should be allowed to "jump the queue" and be vaccinated before other people? See in context

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be remembered as the shabbiest, saddest ever. Why bother?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: What’s the deal with the big color-changing cup at Starbucks Japan? See in context

Wow, that's great! Reusable! Down here in Okayama, we have a further step - we have something called "coffee shops," in which someone actually comes to our table and serves us a cup of coffee in a (get this!) cup! And yes, it is reusable, since it is made of a wierd material called "porcelain" or sometimes, "china." What will they think of next?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: What are some past TV shows that could no longer be aired because they would be considered politically incorrect? See in context

Anybody remember the old "11PM Wide Show" with tutorials on how to tie up naked women?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Santa-san See in context

Has that guy living at the North Pole been authorized by the Greenland Santa Claus Association?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Posted in: Beaujolais Nouveau released See in context

When I lived in France, many years ago, Beaujolais nouveau's popularity was that it was a reasonably good tasting wine available for a very short time that was incredibly cheap. That was always the selling point - it was a particular favorite among students who could get drunk for next to nothing. Older and more sophisticated drinkers usually didn't touch it.

It was a lot of fun, though - or maybe it was just being young.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Couple arrested for extorting ¥1.1 million from man over video voyeurism See in context

Wow, a 21st century, safe-sex high tech badger game! Who says there's no such thing as progress!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Some people argue that mandating anyone to wear face masks during the pandemic is a violation of human rights. Do you agree? See in context

Masks are not worn to protect the wearers; they are worn to protect those with whom the wearers come in contact. Most cases of Covid-19 are asymptomatic, whcih means that they are unwittingly spreading the disease without exhibiting symptoms.

Ever since at least Typhoid Mary, it has been accepted that governments have the right and indeed the obligation to regulate human activities in order to protect their populations from infectious diseases.

I suppose that those claiming some sort of "right" to refuse to wear a mask also have the "right" to drop their pants in front of children - but don't try it in my neighborhood.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: It's 'Ben Hur' and 'Wizard of Oz' as some Japanese cinemas reopen See in context

Ben Hur and the Wizard of Oz? If you haven't seen them on the big screen you haven't seen them. Go for it!

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan urges Taiwan's participation in WHO assembly See in context

Membership in WHO should be of interested parties, perhaps called "participants," rather than nation-states. That would include Taiwan, Palestine as well as international health-oriented NGOs such as the Red Cross, Red Crescent and the Knights of Malta.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Posted in: Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet? See in context

Since it is very difficult to get approval for testing, how can we be sure of the accuracy of the figures?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Posted in: Viola Davis to play Michelle Obama in TV series See in context

A classy lady to play a classy lady!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Oscars museum' opening this year to feature Kirk Douglas tributes See in context

It is on Wilshire Boulevard. They couldn't find a place in Hollywood?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: ¥3 mil whisky See in context

Actually, the price in dollars would be about $27,500 - still, more than just a tidy sum and way out of this expat's budget! Way out. Way waay out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Ninja house in northeastern Japan faces risk of demolition See in context

A few pictures might have helped garner some interest in preserving this part of the national heritage.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan wants to go cashless, but elderly aren't so keen See in context

There is a curious distinction in this article between "Japan" and "elderly people." Are elderly people no longer part of Japan or are there two nations?

Of course banking interests want a "cashless" society; at each transaction a little money flows into their coffers and that adds up greatly.

On the whole, people with plastic cards instead of cash spend more and risk credit card debt with obscene interest payments.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Posted in: U.S. upset by ASEAN's 'effort to embarrass' Trump via partial boycott See in context

The practice in international affairs has always been that leaders meet with leaders and subordinates meet with subordinates, but even here Trump had to make it about himself. Of course, he cannot comprehend any world event more cataclysmic than an embarrassment for Donald Trump.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan's first free water refill app, MyMizu beta version, now available for download See in context

I have just read the article again and I don't get: any water tap is a "refill station." I've been refilling for years and have never found myself in a place in Japan, rural or urban, in which refilling was even slightly inconvenient.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's first free water refill app, MyMizu beta version, now available for download See in context


Don't worry; the tap water in Japan is very good and indeed tastes better than a lot of bottled water. The whole bottled water thing began in the States with an author who was plugging his own brand and later went to jail for fraud. Much of the bottled water there is less pure than tap water except, of course, in places like Flint, Michigan.

There's a lot of money being made in the bottled water industry, much of it from false or misleading claims of nonexistent health benefits and also of health dangers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Man forgets wallet with ¥2.8 million in it on Yamanote line; cleaner who found it nabbed See in context

Two interesting points here. Yes, carrying that amount of cash is not unusual here in Japan. When we bought our house, the bank that loaned us the money gave it to me in cash: I was very nervous, to say the least, until I got to the seller.

Another difference is that news in the United States regularly celebrates those who turn in lost money instead of stealing it. The assumption there seems to be that normal people are criminals and the exceptional are not.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: South Korea calls for ban of 'rising sun' flag at 2020 Olympics See in context

There are a couple of misconceptions here. The flag pictured is the Japanese naval ensign, not a "colonial" flag or "war" flag. Many navies, including South Korea's have ensigns separate from national flags. The British ensign is well-known; it is a white flag with a red cross of Saint George quartered by the Union Jack. What is odd is that Japanese fans would think to carry a navy flag at sporting events in place of the national flag.

The second misconception is that this flag would have been familiar to Koreans not serving in the Japanese Navy during the colonial period. The average Korean certainly would have had occasion to see and resent the Japanese Imperial Army flag, but not the navy's. The army flag was similar, but the sun was centered while the ensign's sun is placed towards the hoist. In short, the Koreans are complaining about the wrong flag.

Having said that, I still that the ensign's use should be restricted to its proper and honorable role on the ships that defend us. In a time when one can no longer depend on the United States, and faced with a bellicose and possibly mentally unstable regime in North Korea as well as a China threatening territorial aggrandizement against weaker nations in the Pacific, unity of purpose between Japan and the Republic of Korea is essential. Rebuilding that unity should not be diverted by pointless squabbles that demean both nations.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Posted in: Take a bite out of the world’s first piranha ramen in Japan See in context

I hope that the fish are safely dead before shipping. We've had enough problems with escapees such as the nutria. Oh yes, Mr. Goode: Minke whale tastes great.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Should Japan send Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to the Strait of Hormuz to escort tankers bringing oil to Japan? See in context

The question is really camaflage for a larger question: does Japan wish to take sides in a dispute between Saudi Arabia, backed by the US, and Iran? To put it more simply: does Japan wish its policy to be dictated by John Bolton and Donald Trump?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't to set up panel on stable imperial succession by year-end See in context

wo only vaguely related points.

The constitutional prescription against female emperors was written by the American occupation forces, as indeed was the entire constitution. It has had only one postitve aspect, that of economy. In Britain, all the members of the royal family, male and female, are supported by the taxpayers, so there is a growing bill - royals, apparently, don't come cheap. In Japan, once a female member marries, she receives a family name, becomes a Japanese citizen and loses the state subsidy, keeping state expenditure on the imperial family relatively small. Obviously, this is no justification for preventing the accession of an empress; it is, however, a problem to be faced.

One contributor brought up the question of the emperor as god - a common interest among westerners who think of a god in the Abrahamic sense. When I suggested that the emperor might not be a god, my wife was rather upset, pointing out that if the emperor is not a god then neither are her parents and neither will she be, or me, for that matter. She also suggested that an old sneaker can be a god and she was not joking.

As for me, I honor all the gods, wherever I am.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Traffic reduction falls far short of target in Tokyo highway test See in context

If the goal is to discourage drivers from driving on certain routes at certain times, the variable toll system will only work if most drivers have the option of driving at different times or on different routes. Unfortunately, this is not the case: emplyers are not going to refigure personel schedules and deliveries still must be made on time. The only way that it could work is for all businesses in the area, from giant corporations to family shops to reschedule their times and coordinate that rescheduling with all other businesses. Oh, and free buses everywhere and at every time would help, too.

Failing that, what you will have is a new transport tax, the cost of which will inevitably be passed along to consumers in Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese town celebrates first whale catch of the season See in context

Try Minke fried like chicken - a tempura batter will do - marvelous!

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Posted in: Train comes into contact with drill that pierced tunnel, no injuries See in context

Train crews are prepared for all sorts of incidents but wow, I bet the driver was surprised...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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