David Varnes comments

Posted in: Gov't considers abolishing political fairness clause in broadcasting law See in context

Wait, the government wants a pro-government media outlet?

Isn't NHK enough?

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Posted in: United mistakenly flies Kansas-bound dog to Japan See in context

My last two flights were on United, and ironically on the second leg of my trip the woman across the aisle from me had a little French bulldog on her lap the whole flight. Compared to some of the other airlines I've flown over the past year, I'd give United better marks than a lot of them. The seats were wider than most, they had knee room, their electronics worked, and the food, while not five star, was at least edible.

Still, these incidents with dogs can't be acceptable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Native speakers in demand as Japanese schools step up English lessons See in context

Sadly, unless there is a pen, a pineapple, an apple, and a pen in a room, most students in Japan would be unable to hold a conversation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Ice wall partly reduces radioactive water at Fukushima plant but more measures needed See in context

Government already promised 40. Not 100.Radiation sievert levels coming down, with 1000s of engineers working 24 hours, it may be even less than 40.

A government promise in Japan on just about anything except raising taxes isn't worth the paper it's written on. The government has no idea what it's doing, and is just throwing money after money at the thing to give TEPCO funds so it's amukudari brigade can pad their nests.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump's shifting stance on guns leaves lawmakers baffled See in context

Personally, I just carry my lightsaber. Blasters are such... inelegant weapons.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: 86% of go-kart accidents in Tokyo involve foreigners: NPA See in context

The only thing I'll point out is that if the NPA does pass a regulation requiring them to be 1 meter off the ground, expect accidents to increase. Raising a vehicle's center of gravity means it is less stable on curves and turns. Expect go-karts that are jacked up to 1 meter tall to be flipping over on turns if taken at any type of speed.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Japanese Embassy in U.S. : No human meat consumption in Japan See in context

In 2012 Mao Sugiyama, 22, who is asexual, had voluntarily undergone surgery to have his genitals removed which he took home frozen and later served them to diners at ¥20,000 a head.

Yes, but did he serve them correctly with fava beans and a nice Chianti? Or was it Pocky and a beaujolais nouveau?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: White House Communications Director Hope Hicks resigning See in context

My actual hope is that Trump makes it exactly one day past 2 years. That way, when Pence takes over, he's only constitutionally allowed to run for re-election once, just in case the people somehow like him.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: Hanyu sets sights on quintuple jump See in context

First the quad axel, now quintuple jumps, and maybe a quint axel?

Yeah right, he's selling on the level of PT Barnum right now. If his ankle is only 20-30% better, he's got nothing left for the long term grind, and he knows it. He's trying to cash in now, get some sponsorship or something extra to let him do little as he 'prepares for the quad axel' or something... and then when he doesn't get it just shrug and retire.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think are some of the main differences in the way Japanese and U.S. media report the news? See in context

Australian coverage of the games is the same, only showing events where Australia is playing. Think all countries do the same.

Incorrect. While Channel 7's coverage was more nationalistic than previous Olympics, there was plenty of coverage of events such as cross country skiing, bobsleigh, luge, hockey, and other sports where Aussies or Kiwis weren't involved. In fact, I saw more coverage of them than of Kailani Craine's figure skating. While 7 did do interviews with her and replayed her short program, it was nowhere near the level of NHK's coverage of Sochi, where I saw Hirano's qualifying run for the snowboard halfpipe over a dozen times, and none of the other competitors'.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan's average adult height declining for those born in 1980 or later See in context

Best thing my wife and I did when we had a baby in Japan: We told the doctors that we weren't going to put up with their nonsense. And since his birth, my son's been routinely mistaken for a child older than he is, as he's usually taller than children a year or two older than he is.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: No medal for 5th place Japan in team figure skating See in context

Until Japan has better ice dancers and pairs skaters, they'll never get above 5th place either. The simple fact is, Chris Reed only skates for Japan because he and his sister weren't good enough to even make the Juniors team in the USA, yet could immediately vault to the top of the Japanese rankings.

It's about the same for pairs in Japan.

Until those two elements start to match the high levels shown on the men's and ladies' solo events, the best Japan can hope for is 5th, or maybe 4th if a bunch of other people fall.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Posted in: Top court orders hotel operator to pay NHK broadcast fee See in context

I think the court's stance now is that while there is no punitive penalty for not paying, the court's can garnish wages, incur a civil debt, etc for the actual fees themselves. So NHK can get their money, just there is no direct penalty, per se, for not obeying.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Eagles soar past Patriots for first Super Bowl crown See in context

goldorak, Brady's 40 with a repaired ACL, at the end of a very long season. It's amazing anyone's out there not looking like geriatrics, which I guarantee you all of them will be feeling like tomorrow morning.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan protests unified Korea Olympic flag with disputed isles See in context

Oh, the utter ridiculousness. At least they hit all the right meaningless vocabulary: sovereignty, extremely regrettable, unacceptable.

About the only thing missing was 'correct interpretation of history.'

2 ( +14 / -12 )

Posted in: 2020 Tokyo Olympic costs keep rising See in context

Is anyone really surprised?

Tokyo wins with an 'economical' bid. Then, starting with the original stadium debacle, they come out with a price tag that's billions upon billions more than what they originally said.

The IOC steps in, says to cut the costs or else. Tokyo, of course, says they'll start trimming, etc... and they do. At first. Now, with 2 years to go, they think it's safe to go back to their original well padded brown envelope filled budget, they do so, just with a different distribution of how the brown envelopes are divvied out on the surface.

It's all a scam, and if I were the IOC or any major sporting event, I'd remember this... and steer clear of any budget Japan puts forth from now on. Or else require that it be put in escrow prior to the bid being completed, and once that money's gone, it's gone. If Japan has egg on their face after that, that's their problem.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Posted in: Hanyu fights Olympic fitness battle See in context

Himajin, considering that the point system that Hanyu has these records for has only existed for 14 years, there's no way to say that his accomplishments would be comparable to previous generations. Until 2004, all figure skaters competed on "6.0" system, which worked quite differently.

Really, the only way to compare across generations is to look at total number of World and Olympic titles won. For example, Gilles Grafstrom and Evegny Plushenko can both lay claim to being "the GOAT" before Hanyu, based off the fact that Grafstrom has 3 golds and 1 silver, with his 3 golds being consecutive, while Plushenko's 1 gold in single and 1 team gold is paired with 2 silvers.

And that's just the men. In the women, he would have to also pass the accomplisments of Sonia Henie, Katarina Witt, or even Michelle Kwan (who was at one point called the Queen of 6's because of the total number of 6.0's she scored under the old system).

SO yeah, I'd still say the writer had more than a little bias or maybe just more than a little hyperbole.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: There have been cases where Chinese or South Korean alcoholic drinks are served as Japanese sake at Asian cuisine restaurants. Also, some people see sake as a digestive drink with its high alcohol percentage. See in context

Oh no! People are pairing Chinese alcohol with Japanese food and mistaking it for sake?

Oh the huge manatee!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Overseas experiences will help broaden young people's perspectives and knowledge and contribute to developing a friendlier environment for visitors to Japan. See in context

The idea of opening culture by going overseas is only effective if the young people actually have true interaction with the overseas culture.

Having a "Japan bubble" of a tour group that has a meticulously planned out schedule with Japanese speaking guide, holding a little flag on a stick and doing things no differently than if they'd gone to Yokohama instead doesn't give cultural awareness and understanding. A bubble where they don't have to actually interact with any of the people overseas beyond maybe smiling and taking pictures isn't going to accomplish any goals.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Global shift as Olympics set up shop in Asia See in context

As others have said, the idea of 'hosting' the Olympics no longer has a luster for most Western countries either because A) been there, done that, got the t-shirt, or B) they see that for all the hoopla, it doesn't really do that much.

Seriously, what are the long term benefits for, say, Sarajevo? Calgary? Turin? Lillehammer? Those aren't the only Winter Olympic cities, of course, but I've been to Nagano. I've skated in M-wave, I've been to Hakuba to see the remaining sites there.

Do you know what I saw in M-wave? A thousand dollar weightlifting bar, most likely bought with Olympic money for speed skaters, sitting in a dusty corner of the arena slowly rusting. Downstairs under the arena is another weight training area where there was dust on the mirrors from lack of use. Is there a knock-on effect? Doubtful, as most of the Olympic stuff has fallen into disuse or is now so decrepit it can't be used.

The summer Olympics are probably the same. Millions and millions (if not billions) of dollars spent... for an imaginary feather in the cap of some politician and an honor that gets forgotten within a few years. Do you think the people of Rio are happy about the money their country spent for the 'honor' of the Olympics?

Some will say that such honors inspire or raise the prestige of the host city/country. Maybe it used to, I doubt it though. You want to know what really raises the prestige? Having good housing, thriving economies, safe streets, good transportation, etc, etc. Compared to those, hosting the Olympics is small potatoes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: As Globes mark cinema's successes, audiences shy away See in context

It's very simple. When the cost for my family to go to one movie (tickets, drinks and a shared snack) is easily the price of multiple months of a streaming service... I'm going to wait the extra few months for the movie to make it onto a service.

No way am I going to pay cinema prices for movies, especially with the junk that's being put out now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. military helicopter crash-lands in Okinawa, no injuries See in context

Onaga never passes up a chance to complain about the US military. If a report came out that a US serviceman sneezed on the street and accidentally caught a local with some of the spray, he'd probably be in front of the cameras and microphones within an hour complaining about the "Outrageous conduct and germ warfare being perpetrated on the people of Okinawa."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Japanese companies running out of excuses not to raise wages See in context

It only 'eats into profits' in the short term.

Paying workers more also ensures that a company will have a greater chance of attracting the best talent, a long term investment that means long term stability.

Another potential (although not in Japan with their lifetime employment system, etc) is that paying workers more creates a more motivated, harder working worker who will do more than just skate by doing the bare minimum. It also creates greater worker loyalty and fosters a sense from the workers that the company actually gives a daikon about them, so they'll give one about the company.

Paying workers more is an investment in the long term success of the company.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: LA Angels star Ohtani trains in Japan See in context

 This is exactly why I hate watching baseball in Japan; I always hit the language button because the Japanese announcers always paint the Japanese star as the savior of the team.

This is why I stopped watching any and all TV news in Japan. If you watch J-news sports, you'd have thought that all of MLB consisted of Boston, Seattle, Texas Rangers (only when Yu Darvish pitched), Florida when they would let Ichiro play... and some other nameless, part time teams that nobody really cares about. Later, when Darvish was traded to the Angels, the MLB gained 1 more team.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Reduction of over 30,000 seats at Tokyo 2020 venues proposed See in context

Forget 'omotenashi,' with the way things are going, this is going to be 'isuhanashi' and most likely 'okanehanashi'

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Pikachu to be played by Ryan Reynolds in live-action Pokemon movie See in context

I can only hope they drop enough Easter eggs in the movie that it would make this worth at least half a watch. Deadpool, Green Lantern, and more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Kumamoto assemblywoman causes stir by bringing 7-month-old son into chamber See in context

If it had been me, the conversation would have gone like this:

"You must remove the child."


"But the rules say-"



"I said no. Either start the session, or have me removed. But my child is staying with me, you ignorant, conceited, stuffed suited fool."

22 ( +28 / -6 )

Posted in: San Francisco mayor accepts 'comfort women' statue; Osaka to end sister-city ties See in context

question, one that I think talks about the perspective on both sides of this.

So many of the people upset at this statue and others like it keep pointing to the 2015 agreement. Yet, from the information available to the public, these statues are all arranged and paid for by private groups of individuals, and not by the South Korean government.

Yet many still blame the government of South Korea.

I wonder, if this is the case, then what is the difference between that at when Shinzo Abe and other members of the government make statements or engage in actions such as visiting of Yasukuni Shrine, supposedly 'in their roles as private individuals and not in their position as members of the government of Japan.'

I'm not saying one side is better than the other, but there is a thin veneer of ridiculousness on both sides. However, if one side can say one thing formally yet do something completely opposite in their 'private personage,' then why can't the other?

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

Posted in: Survey ranks Japanese children's problem-solving skills near world-best See in context

It seems it involved interactive questions. Some example questions can be found at the link below:


Some other interesting results:

girls performed better than boys in almost all countries (e.g. Canadian girls performed better than Japanese boys) Although oddly, boys value teamwork more than girls.

Students who play video games outside of school score slightly lower in collaborative problem solving than students who do not play video games 

Other links here:


If that is the type of question that this survey measures, then I can see both why the Japanese students did well, and also why there's a lot of shade thrown on this news story.

The sample questions didn't really involve 'problem solving,' in the traditional sense, but more 'find the answer' questions. There was little to no unique processing or creative interpretation of said factual data to create an actual solution to a 'problem.'

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: He really thinks, I think, very highly of Abe as a thinker and also a man of action. See in context

three uses of the word 'think' in one statement, yet there is zero evidence of any actual thinking done.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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