collegepark30349 comments

Posted in: Okayama ninja video credited with drastically improving traffic manners See in context

As a 20+ year resident of Okayama, I am stunned to learn that even 10.3% of cars stop for pedestrians. I'd say it is more like 0.3%.

As for manners drastically improving, please tell that to the high school kid that just got hit coming out my neighborhood two weeks ago. At a crosswalk. With the volunteer crossing guard waving his baton to stop cars.

Thankfully the kid it OK, but man, Okayama drivers are terrible.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Posted in: Lloyd Morrisett, who helped launch 'Sesame Street,' dies at 93 See in context

A truly wonderful human. We need more.

“Sesame Street” was designed by education professionals and child psychologists with one goal: to help low-income and minority students aged 2-5 overcome some of the deficiencies they had when entering school. 

And now it is on HBO Max streaming, where you have to pay to get it, keeping out the very children it was originally meant for. "shame" is not a strong enough word.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Public faces ¥1 bil annual maintenance bill for privatized National Stadium See in context

For everything that went wrong with the Atlanta Olympics, and a lot did go wrong, at least they got the stadium right. They built the Olympic Stadium but still kept and used Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (the Braves home stadium) through the Olympics. After the Olympics, the Olympic stadium was sold to the Braves and converted to their new home stadium - Turner Field - and the old stadium was torn down. The Braves used it for 20 years before building a new stadium in the suburbs but now the Olympic stadium / Turner field has been bought by Georgia State University and is used by their football team as well as for other events. So, almost 30 years of continuous occupancy and use and no debt to the city or state. Why they build the Tokyo Olympic Stadium without a permanent occupant in mind (Giants?) after the Games makes absolutely no sense to me. Hosting a world championship of some sort once every 4 ~ 6 years is not going to do it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Public faces ¥1 bil annual maintenance bill for privatized National Stadium See in context

For everything that went wrong with the Atlanta Olympics, and a lot did go wrong, at least they got the stadium right. They built the Olympic Stadium but still kept and used Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (the Braves home stadium) through the Olympics. After the Olympics, the Olympic stadium was sold to the Braves and converted to their new home stadium - Turner Field - and the old stadium was torn down. The Braves used it for 20 years before building a new stadium in the suburbs but now the Olympic stadium / Turner field has been bought by Georgia State University and is used by their football team as well as for other events. So, almost 30 years of continuous occupancy and use and no debt to the city or state. Why they build the Tokyo Olympic Stadium without a permanent occupant in mind (Giants?) after the Games makes absolutely no sense to me. Hosting a world championship of some sort once every 4 ~ 6 years is not going to do it.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Posted in: Do you keep photos of your relatives who have passed away, those still living, including your children, as well as memorable family events such as weddings, birthdays, etc, on your mantle or in albums at home, or are all your photos just online? See in context

I keep a photo of me with all my bothers and sisters - all five of us - on my desk. It was taken on Thanksgiving in 2012, the last time all five of us were together at Mom's before cancer took our big brother. I like to look at it every day and I couldn't do that if it were just a file on the hard drive.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan ranked last in women staff in tertiary education in 2020: OECD See in context

Let me give an example of just how bad this is. I work at a women's university in an educational center that was created 7 years ago to assist the academic departments. We started with two instructors - myself and a female colleague. We got a new center head the next year - an amakudari Showa-danshi (male born in the 1950's). The female teacher retired. 7 years later, we now have 6 instructors - 5 male and 1 female. The 4 males other than me were all hired directly by the director and are his personal friends (the positions were never advertised) and all Showa-danshi. The 1 female was hired only after protest by another female on the hiring committee (he had already planned on hiring another male). Side note, the one female instructor has more academic qualifications than almost all of the male teachers combined and she's about 25 years younger. From next year, we will get 2 more instructors - both male. And, as I said in the beginning, this is at a WOMEN'S university! How embarassing and sad.

3 ( +16 / -13 )

Posted in: At least 146 LDP lawmakers have had dealings with Unification Church See in context

I would like a clearer explanation of what these "dealings" and "ties" are.

My mother spent many years in local politics in Atlanta (city council, county commisoner, school boards, etc.). I don't think there was a religious group, or any other goup, in her districts she did not visit or speak to at one time. This included attending services with Baptists, Methodists, Jews, Mormons, Episcopalins (even though she is Catholic), giving talks, going to barbebues.... For one, they were her constituents and part of her job was being present to interact directly with them. Two, these people vote, so it was a form of campaigning. And, I'm sure the Unification Church folks vote - probably in a block. And three, just the cynic in me, not only do these people vote, they also donate time and money to politicians and campaigns.

I'm not saying the "dealings" and "ties" are 100% above board or the the Unification folks are 100% legit, but I'm not so sure it is all underhanded either. Just politics.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Public elementary school in Aichi offers rare English-immersion program See in context

If this is anything like the program they have here at a public school in Okayama, it is not a full immersion program, but a partial immersion one. Full immersion would mean that they have nothing but English from the time they step into the school until the time they leave - annoucements, interactions with teachers and classmates, classroom materials and signs...basically like living in an English speaking country. They would, in practice, be separated from the rest of the school. A partial immersion program, like the one here in Okayama, means they only get taught certain subjects in English and often only on certain days. In the case here, they get English, math and science taught in English plus one additional English class per week. Other subjects - Japanese, music, PE, arts & crafts...etc - are taught in Japanese and taken with their regular classes. Funny thing is, friends of mine whose kids are in this program are dissapponted. They have to send their kids to juku for math and science classes. Why? Because the tests they have to take (national standardized tests and for JHS) are all in Japanese, of course, and their kids can't understand the questions as well as their peers because they are not used to reading them in Japanese.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Posted in: Petition started to stop forcing students to cheer for their high school baseball teams See in context

I played sports all through high school and some in college. Honestly, I never paid attention to nor hardly ever heard anything going on in the stands during a game. You're too focused on the game and by the time the sound makes it to the field or court it is all just white noise anyway. It really doesn't have any effect on the players.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese children learn financial education as cashless society takes hold See in context

I've always thought that a course in financial literacy shoule be a required part of high school curricula. My high school offered a "Consumer Math" course (late 80's early 90's) that I took; it was actually a very popular class with a waiting list. I'm grateful for taking it because I learned things like what forebearance, acruing interest, principal and equity mean and how various taxes work (I've met very few peopel who know what millage means in property taxes). I found out why making interest only payments is for fools and the difference between fixed and adjustable rates. I remember having problems like: Which is the better deal, a 10-year fixed rate loan at X%, or an adjustable rate that starts at lower X% than but increases by X% every two years. Good stuff. This class is the main reason I didn't get in hot water with student loans but a lot of other people, who did not have any financial literacy, did.

 according to Robert Kiyosaki "Rich Dad Poor Dad," the government wants the people to stay poor.

I absolutely agree with this. Of all the things that people want to put or take out of school, you never hear financial literacy mentioned.

And, to show my age, I also remeber playing the boardgame "Pay Day" and learning quite a bit as well. Looks like it is still available. Time for a come back?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo closes books on costly, pandemic-delayed Olympics See in context

I wonder if they did some of the same cute accounting tricks the Atlanta Olympic Committee did when they said they broke even when they closed the books. The biggest one, discovered years later by reporters at teh AJC, was only counting the face value of the bonds issued for funding the games and not counting the 20 years worth of interest to be paid on them. This alone shaved doube digit millions from the total cost and made it looks like they cost less.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Azteca Stadium, Los Angeles among 2026 World Cup venues See in context

I wonder when the dates are. Summer, I suppose. I thought they'd learned their lesson after the 1996 Olympics about hosting events in Atlanta in the summer.

Atlanta weather: Thur - 36, Fri - 37, next Tu ~ Thur 37-38-37. With humidity near 70%. And this is just June.

heat + humidity + elevation (320m) = bad idea in summer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hollywood is bombarding us again with prequels, sequels, remakes and spinoffs from past films? Do you tire of these sorts of films? See in context

I don't mind new adaptations of the same source material: Howard Hawks' and John Carpenter's "The Thing" were adaptations of the same short story "Who Goes There?" but very different thematically, same with "Yojimbo" and "A Fist Full of Dollars" both being adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest." After all, how many different adaptations of Hamlet has the Royal Shakespeare Company done? Literature and plays are open to interpretation and many of the different takes are quite interesting.

I like sequels if they serve a purpose other than to make money and help propel a cohesive narrative (the "Before Trilogy" comes to mind or the second X-men movie).

I am tired of basic "money grab" remakes (I have watched Peter Parker's uncle get murdered so many times I could testify at the trial), origin stories, prequels, sequels and spinoffs. Serious diminishing returns. The "dark and gritty" take is also getting on my nerves.

I really don't like the belated "legacy sequels" (the new Blade Runner was great, though) or the "shared universe" movies that try to force you into watching all of the movies to be able to understand them (talking to you, Marvel).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: What are your views on parents hitting their young children as a means of punishing or disciplining them? See in context

When I first became a father, I asked a friend of mine whose kids were already grown if he had ever hit them. His response, "Only when they scared me." I mentally filed that away at the time, but over the years I've come to understand.

Hitting a child for spilling a drink or not wanting to wear a coat or being tired and, never. But, the time my daughter ran behind a car as it was backing in to a parking space? Yeah, I tore her little fanny up because it scared the life out of me as I watched it. My son earned one as well for trying to fill a balloon with gas from the stove.

Never out of anger or for "discipline," but out of fear. My parents were old school Southern country folk, but when I look back, the times I did get a spanking was when I did something dangerous to myself or others.

Addendum: my teenage son earned a pop when he thought it'd be cute to call his mother the "b" word. Same thing happened to me as well. The exception proves the rule, I guess.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Posted in: Guns now the leading cause of death for American children See in context

I just don't have words...

I do agree with Sven Asai in that we should go after ammunition. As far as I know, "ammunition" is not in the Constitution and the term "arms" refers to weapons and not the ammunition (not 100% sure, but it would take years for the courts to settle, buying some time) My ideas:

-make ammunition (prohibitively) expensive and limit it's sales (18 to buy a gun, 30 to buy bullets, can only buy 10 at a time from a single dealer)

-an "ammunition tax" used to fund school security and emergency services (a firearms tax would be good too - there are federal alcohol and tobacco taxes)

-you can have your right to open carry and conceal carry your "arms" but the carrying of ammunition in public places shall be banned. Or, only unloaded weapons may be carried. Or, weapons and ammunition must be carried separately. Or, you can only carry one bullet. Whatever can get passed.

For guns:

-if you get a DUI or DWI, you lose your right to have guns as you have shown a gross lack of judgement

-if you are charged and convicted of child abuse, spousal abuse, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly, assault or any other violent crime - no more guns for you

-you have to take a series of practical and safety tests (physical and mental competence) and get a license before you can own a gun, you have to retake the tests every X years (and they are expensive tests)

-you have to have a psychological evaluation

-you have to prove that you have safe storage and that you are the only person who can access such storage

-create a federal firearms safety agency similar to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the National Transportation Safety Board

Lots of other things, but this would be a good start. And, leaving it up to each state is fine - just do like they did with the drinking age: if you don't meet our request, you will lose federal funding (for you non-Americans, states that did not raise the the age for purchasing alcohol to 21 would lose all of their federal highway funding. Only one state did not raise it - Texas, of course).

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: Private-initiative soup kitchens spring up to deal with child poverty See in context

I remember having food drives in elementary school a couple of times during the year. Students would bring in what they could - usually canned goods - and it was sent out to the less fortunate in the area. This was a working class area in south Atlanta, so there were quite a few people who needed help. I find it odd that it doesn't happen here - only in times of disaster. I brought it up at a PTA meeting but the majority opinion was that people receiving the donations would be too embarrassed, so we should not do it.

Tell me, what are you contributing to help the people in need?

Don't know if this will get past the moderators, but I regularly donate to Good Neighbors Japan and the local Salvation Army here in Okayama. How about you?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: What's your stance on abortion? See in context

Legal - safe - rare. This always seemed the best way to me. If both sides would put their energy into reducing unwanted pregnancies and increasing support instead of attacking each other, then I think things would be better for everyone. I can't agree with some of the right's contentions such as it should be completely illegal and those who do it should be punished. I also can't agree with some of the left's contentions such as taking minors across state lines for abortions without parental consent and making the day after pill over the counter.

I also can't agree with the what has been published of the ruling so far. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure of property and person. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and deliver the baby, making it illegal not to do so, seems, to me, to be an unreasonable seizure of her person by the government.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Nissan ending production of Datsun brand vehicles See in context

My first car in 1991 was a fourth or fifth-hand 1982 Datsun B210. Had 200,000 miles on it before it gave up the ghost on me in college. Very simple engine and car that was great for learn basic maintenance (have to have a look for my Chilton Manual). Drove it from Atlanta to New Orleans, Daytona, Myrtle Beach, etc. without a hitch. Brother had a Datsun pickup that made it close to 300K before it fell apart. Simple, cheap, but reliable as hell.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: William Hurt, star of 'Broadcast News,' 'Body Heat,' dies at 71 See in context

If you have a chance, try to catch "Smoke" - a gem of a movie. There is wonderful scene where Harvey Keitel's character is showing William Hurt's character his photo collection and Hurt find his dead wife in of them - truly affecting piece of acting (Forrest Whitaker's speech about his lost arm is great too).

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan aims to block sex offenders from jobs in schools, child care See in context

This is so odd. When I first started teaching in the public school system out of uni in 1997 in Georgia, I had to have a complete police background check, state wide, before they let me even see the contract to sign. Anything other than minor traffic violations and I wouldn't get the job. How can there not be a conditon like this with a national police system like Japan has?

While many parents have welcomed the initiative, some experts are concerned that such a system may hinder the rehabilitation of those who have served their sentences.

This is even odder. Completion of a sentence does not equal rehabilitated. Recidivism is high for sex offenders.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: Many people can recall a school teacher who had a major influence on their lives. Was there such a teacher in your life and how did he or she influence you? See in context

My high school French teacher because she was honest and real and treated me like a young adult who was learning instead of a teenager who didn't know anything. Still in touch with her 30 years later.

My AP English teacher for all of the wrong reasons like YeahRight and Monty pointed out. As they say, nobody is completely useless, they can always serve as a bad example.

Ego Sum, great story.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: U.S. sprinter Richardson slams Valieva ruling See in context

I would say apples and oranges, but I don't think that is a strong enough analogy for this. Richardson was suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the US Olympic committee. In other words, the US governing bodies were following the World Anti-Doping Agency rules even at the expense of their own Olympic team (she won the US qualifications and would have been the gold medal favorite). Pretty admirable of the US governing bodies to hold to the rules, I'd say. It never even got to the IOC. Valieva tested positive and was cleared by Court of Arbitration for Sport (with maybe some, cough, cough, input from Putin and Russia) and the International Skating Union appears to be going along with it. The IOC, in a rare, rare moment of common sense, is actually against the ruling. Different governing and ruling bodies, different decisions. So, no, Richardson has no grounds to argue.

Also, Richardson did not "test positive for marijuana." Her test results showed a high level of THC, which can come from smoking marijuana but can also come from ingesting (pills, oils...). THC is a banned substance. Period. THC is a stimulant that can be used for pain management, reduce anxiety and boost energy. If she had high CBD levels (the depressant, "stoner" part of marijuana), then she might be able to argue, but with THC there are too many red flags.

The thing that worries me here is that this ruling basically give a carte blanche for all competitors 16 and under to cheat, or even worse, their coaches, trainers, etc. to exploit them even more.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: How widespread do you think doping is in pro sports? Are there any sports that you think are clean? See in context

Unfortunately, too widespread. I can remember guys trying to get an edge even when I was in high school - wrestlers taking a handful of NoDoz before a match, cross-country runners using asthma inhalers to breathe better... For pros, too much money is on the line. Doping, however, should not just refer to PEDs. There is also "technology doping" that is getting pretty bad and is making a lot of sports unfair or haves vs. have-nots. The swimsuits about a decade ago is the best example. In the past summer Olympics I read articles about how runners now have metal plates in their shoes that act as springs, wrestling singlets are made out of material that is harder to grip (doesn't absorb sweat from the opponet's hands), swimmers sleeping in oxygen deprivation tanks to increase is really getting out of hand. Sports that are clean PED wise might not be clean technology wise.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Tom Brady retires after 22 seasons, 7 Super Bowl titles See in context

Really enjoyed watching him play and it'll be weird not seeing or hearing his name in the weekly highlights. By all accounts a great teammate (win = "we did a great job" - loss = "I could have done better") and a hard, hard worker (first guy at practice, last guy to leave, never out of shape, memorized the play book - characteristics all the true greats in team sports share).

The one thing I read today that truly stunned me: he is both the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl + SB MVP and the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl + SB MVP, with 5 more between. Talk about sustained greatness.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Despite reports, Tom Brady hasn't made up mind about retiring See in context

If this is true, it is a bummer of a day for football fans. You can't say, "I like football, but I don't like Tom Brady."

Not only is it the end of a career, it marks the end of an era. With Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, and possibly Rodgers retiring soon, an era of quarterbacking is over and a new one is taking hold. Gone are the days of guys like this standing at the line and reading the defense and then dissecting it in a matter of seconds while staying in the pocket, making plays with their minds over their bodies. Mental agility and processing over physical performance. Now, guys like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson use their physical ability to cause defenses to breakdown - moving a lot more and getting defenders out of place, or buying time until the receivers get something to develop. They are just as much a threat to take off running as they are to toss it 25 yards across their bodies while running to the sideline. While I hate to see the previous era go, the new one is pretty exciting too.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Brady, Bucs out as Rams advance; Chiefs down Bills See in context

Agreed, Godan. All four games decided on walk-offs. Great stuff.

Kinda hoping for a 49er-Bengals Super Bowl, with the Bengals winning this time to erase my double dose of childhood trauma (Anthony Munoz fan) and wipe my brother's smirk off his face (Ronnie Lot fan).

NFL has got to change the overtime format, though.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: What are some cities you enjoy visiting but you would never want to live in any of them? See in context

As much as I love going back to my hometown of Atlanta for visits, I would never want to live there again, or the entire state of Georgia again, really. Sad, I know, but the place is just an absolute mess.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: Remakes are a staple in Hollywood. Which of your all-time favorite movies would you absolutely not like to see remade? See in context

The keep threatening to remake The Wild Bunch and I'd hate to see that. It would just become a big, dumb action film instead of a haunting elegy about men no longer being in their time. Also, Road House and Big Trouble in Little China. You can't get lightning in a bottle twice.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: In your experience, how hard or easy is it to get a driver's license in Japan? What were the written and driving tests like? See in context

I converted from a US license in Okayama. The most annoying part was all the paperwork. I remember having to get a copy of my driving record from the US - including the date I took my initial driving test at 16 - and then having to get it translated at a local JAF branch. The funniest part was when they asked what kind of car I took the driving test in. I answered, "My mother's." But they actually wanted to make and model, so I made one up on the spot (did make it a Japanese car, though. 1990 Nissan Sentra, I think).

The English translation of the written test was so bad that I actually asked for the Japanese version. Since it was a conversion, the test was only 10 Ture-False questions and very easy to pass (You must stop at a red light. T or F). After this, I had to wait two weeks to take the driving test.

I passed the driving test on the first go and am honestly surprised that most people don't. At the time I took it, I could buy a map of the driving course at the license center to study and test takers were allowed to walk the course the morning of the test. For some reason, I was the only one doing it and I knew all the little traps before even getting in the car. Also, you can practice driving in a private car on regular roads after you pass the written test. You just have to have a licensed Japanese driver in the car with you and you have to put a sign on the front and back of the car (handwritten is OK). If forgot the exact wording and size of the sign, but if you ask I am sure they will tell you. I asked at the 岡山西警察署 and they were quite helpful.

And as Peter Neil pointed out above, the unwritten rules. A few others - I wore a suit and tie, shaved, and made a big show of turning off my phone and putting it in my bag before I started the engine. Of the three people that passed the day I did, all of us were wearing business attire. The people in shorts, t-shirts, ball caps...all failed (not saying it is right or wrong, just saying "an ounce of appearance is worth a pound of performance"). If you look like a safe diver, they will assume you are. Also, if you can't do everything yourself in Japanese, you probably won't pass. People that came with a "helper," usually a foreign dude with his Japanese girlfriend, failed. The cops there are most likely thinking, "Is this person going to be a problem for me if I have to pull them over or respond to an accident?" I remember one lady was dressed like a hostess and said it was her sixth time taking the test. When she failed, she slammed her hands on the counter and stormed off, probably ensuring she will fail the next time as well.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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