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Posted in: UK Labour leader Keir Starmer woos undecided voters with a vow to safeguard national security See in context

Just when you think the Tories can't get any worse they surprise you. I'm sure the armed forces are chuffed at the prospect of babysitting 30,000 kids who really don't want to be there, and who will not give up their vapes, weed, hair style and music without a fight. The dumbest policy since Brexit also alienates parents - they invest in their kids so they go to uni at 18, not get shipped off for Deepcut-style brutalisation and abuse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_at_Deepcut_army_barracks). The Tories have already broken the economics of UK universities by blocking so many foreign students (who subsidise domestic ones) that several universities may shut. A number of internationally ranked courses are already being ended. Now they are taking a year of students away from them. Genius. And after ruining their futures and their free movement with Brexit, they have further alienated the next generation of voters with forced labour.

I'm beginning to think that the Tory policy unit is run by Labour activists on the sly.

Not that it matters - all the Tory voters I know have switched to Reform, as have some Tory MPs. Amusingly, they blame the Tories for not 'winning' at Brexit. That is, not getting everything out of the deal to fund a utopian Britain, leaving the 27 nations on the other side of the table on their knees, in tears, broken and skint.

The Tories have destroyed the UK. Starmer could go on holiday for the next six weeks and still win the election, standing on one leg, blindfold, with the slogan 'we aren't Tories'.

All the Tories have is the demand for photo ID to vote (reducing participation), and six weeks of wall-to-wall TV news coverage. Long before the vote happens, everyone will be absolutely sick of hearing about it. Like when they start advertising Christmas in October. By late November, you just want it to be over.

Oh, and Putin didn't cause that inflation in the UK, Brexit did, taking Sterling down 25%. Nothing does for your economy and your regime quite like a huge decline in your currency.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Foreign thieves likely behind stolen Japan bonsai amid boom abroad See in context

It's heart breaking for the owners as Bonsai can be cultivated across generations. They are trees after all, albeit tiny ones. They are grown in shallow trays with regular root pruning, snipping of growth and watering. Each branch is wired for artistic effect according to traditional styles. They are seriously high maintenance. You can grow trees in pots without doing this, either using larger pots or dwarf varieties, but bonsai is a traditional art. An ownership chip (as used for pets) could be placed in the root ball when pruning it. A simple scan at customs would then detect a stolen one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Maybe it’s high time 'majime' Japan turned 'wagamama' (Part 1) See in context

Is this a Japanese thing or an age thing? When you get into your 40s and 50s you realise how short life is, how stupid humanity is, endlessly repeating its mistakes, and how incompetent its leaders are. At which point you may decide to do whatever the hell you want, without caring what others think. Because you have realised that nothing you do (or don't do) will make much of a difference, and we are all a long time dead. The onset of this phase is often termed a mid life crisis. Perhaps 'epiphany' is a better term.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: Can we rid artificial intelligence of bias? See in context

If you base software on humanity, you will copy and paste all aspects of humanity and all political and cultural positions and bias across.

Yes, you can artificially intervene and tweak specifics, but you are just tipping the scales away from one viewpoint and towards another.

There is no point in implementing a system that is so heavily tweaked, it no longer works in a world with diverse viewpoints and bias. The more fringe the bias you impose, the less it works for the majority.

You can allow the software to track humanity, warts and all, and wait for generational change, run with the LLMs that suit the bias of your user base, or ban it all.

AI remains an overhyped bubble. For the cool stuff - humanoid robotics - AI isn't a big part of the next steps anyway. There are more pressing issues to sort out with HR, mainly engineering, and our primary use would limit such tech to a servant/slave capacity. That wouldn't require much ML/AI.

Militaries will develop their own AIs with whatever bias they want.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Scientists say they can make zero-emission cement See in context

Quote: Patent pending.

If you want the Global South/third world to do this, it needs to be free to use. And no complaints if China just copy it, because we need them to. Ditto with other green innovations. If they are not free to do, people will not switch to them. You can make a few quid from licensing, or you can save the planet. Pick one.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Foreign thieves likely behind stolen Japan bonsai amid boom abroad See in context

It is very difficult to get plants across borders nowadays without a lot of paperwork. Those checking the paperwork should be on the look out for stolen bonsai. Slip a distinctive metal charm in amongst the roots when root pruning. It will appear on X-ray scans.

If there is a criminal labour shortage, the oft cited Vietnamese may be hired by 100% Japanese Yaks to do their dirty work, deflecting blame.

9 ( +19 / -10 )

Posted in: More than 10,000 people have reached UK in small boats since January See in context

The traditional media scam of using A Big Number. 10,000 is tiny in terms of migration. Way more have come from HK or using other visas. Given that the UK economy is on its knees for lack of competent staff, give them jobs.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: A century ago, anti-immigrant backlash almost closed America’s doors See in context

The hypocrisy of nations built from immigration that then turn on new immigrants.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: Ten Hag defiant on his future after Man United stuns Man City in FA Cup final See in context

Erik ten Hag got his tactics spot on and the team stuck to their tasks. An engrossing match and a remarkable result, considering how poor United have been all season. City made errors and were very predictable. They need to be more flexible. A long ball or a shot from distance isn't a sin.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan is changing its yen bills soon, so beware of scam artists, government warns See in context

It's a viable scam. The Indian government demonetised some banknotes as a clumsy way of rooting out criminal stashes. It caused absolute havoc in 2016 (or around then). Banknotes are regularly demonetised. Thankfully the Japanese ones will not be, as I have a wallet of them. Including a Y2000 one. I've used Y2000 notes in Japan without any problems.

It's likely that miscreants will print their own entirely fake banknotes and offer to swop them for old real ones or offer them to tourists as the 'new' notes, for a smaller transaction fee than the currency changers.

Hopefully the new ones are not like the unpleasant polymer ones we now have in the UK.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: In Mexico, a wave of political murders eats away at democracy See in context

Mexico is a failing state and will soon be like Haiti. Either you treat the cartels like the Islamic State and erase them with military power or accept the inevitable - they run they place - and escape if you can.

I hope America has a plan to deal with this. Because once the cartels are in full control, they will expand North, from the motherland to the promised land.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: S Korean president announces record $19 bil plan to boost chip industry See in context

This may backfire. I'm pretty sure new FABs boosted by corporate welfare payments are not the primary concern of SK voters. The cynical might suggest they are feather bedding in the private sector before being voted out. Surely not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Google tweaking AI Overview after search result gaffes See in context

The AI bubble is a recipe for disaster. In a couple of years it will be regulated into a niche or quietly buried like NFTs and the Metaverse. Until then, turn it off when you can.

It might be interesting to see if concerted attempts by 4chan or other well-intentioned technology experimenters could pepper AI sources with statements such as 'The Eiffel Tower is in Blackpool' (with a photo), to see what it takes to spoof the software.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Mister Donut apologizes for selling 'Meat Pies' that didn’t contain meat See in context

quote: So they didn't capture the market of non-meat eaters/vegans which they could have with the offering and also mislead the meat lovers.

Vegans don't eat cheese.

For obvious reasons, the term 'soy meat' is not normally used. Soya mince, soya protein or soya bean is more typical. 'Plant based' and 'meat free' are also common.

Perhaps the headline, er, takeaway from this should be that nobody noticed they were eating soya instead of meat for 6 months. The environment would notice if people switched for 6 months, as the impact would be a lot less.

They are lucky it isn't the other way around. Sell meat as 'meat free' and you would be buried in court cases.

I see the fuzzing out has now switched to big beige blocks. The art of photojournalism may be considered dead. Fabulous camera technologies, but no historical record worth looking at.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Trump or Biden? Either way, U.S. seems poised to preserve heavy tariffs on imports See in context

Protectionist trade policies are toxic. They benefit nobody and cost people money. This is why I don't like politicians. They damage your lives. Might be an idea to appear on ballot papers as the 'None of the above' party.

Plus side, this is America. It's a big planet. The RotW can reciprocate on US tariffs and trade freely with each other. Cheaper stuff for everyone. Except Americans. Americans, blame the idiots running/ruining your country.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Pair of premium Yubari melons sell for ¥3 million See in context

Pay Y3m, obtain way more than Y3m in media publicity without breaking the new govt. rule the JT mentioned on here some time ago that banned the presentation of products as news items. Seems sensible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: More companies in U.S. offer on-site child care, but is it a long-term fix? See in context

Post-Brexit, child care and the care sector in general is collapsing in the UK. That will happen wherever migrant labour is locked out. Workplace care may be the only option.

And not just for kids. This may be a solution for elderly people too, in Japan and anywhere with an increasingly large population of elderly people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Sony says focus is on creativity, with games, movies, music, sensors, IP, and not gadgets See in context

Sanctions and border restrictions will remove their access to any China-facing parts of the supply chain, which will inhibit their capability to manufacture. Although they could still make a lot of cash producing high end kit.

Content and IP can be produced for very little and can bank serious cash. Harry Potter, the Star Wars franchise etc. Getting in early stage and owning the product could be lucrative. VC for content may be the next wave. The danger is that the streaming model can devalue content. Music, TV and movies could become loss leaders/free giveaways to retain subscribers. Netflix made its splash spending VC on producing content, but that can't last as a business model. As streaming matures, substantial amounts on new content will be required to maintain subscriber levels, with a fixed or even declining income. And the need to operate globally to balance the books will be impacted by increasing national restrictions and sanctions.

So Sony may have the best plan they can manage, even if we would prefer them to be producing quality tech. But there is no guarantee that this business model can work. The more globalised you are, the more profitable you are. Erasing globalisation may erase profitability.

Incidentally, where Sony was good, the value remains. 70s and 80s Sony tech refurbishes well. Retro Sony CRT and AV products have quite a mark-up over their peers. If you have Sony gear in a cupboard, in good condition, with the original box, lucky you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gaps remain between what's known about obesity and how it's being treated See in context

A small proportion of obese people have genuine medical issues that affect their weight, and psychological issues that need fixing to improve their diets. These people need third party assistance.

But the vast majority are responsible adults who should be able to eat less and exercise regularly without this very expensive fuss. So stop finding overcomplicated excuses for people who need to face up to their own laziness and sort themselves out. You really do not want to get old, obese. It magnifies all of the problems of old age, and you will suffer in consequence. So look in the mirror, be honest, and if this is you, start sorting it out. The free YouTube fitness and diet advice videos are a click away.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: British Prime Minister Sunak sets July 4 election date as his Conservatives face a likely defeat See in context

The Tories will be gone in six weeks. They broke absolutely everything with their precious Brexit. They tossed away the sweet spot that Thatcher carved for the UK in the EU. They made the UK 25-35% poorer. They destroyed the economy, our supply chains, our labour pool, public services and the social contract. It has been like losing a war and being colonised by an enemy power. The mainstream media (including the BBC) covered it up, blaming it on Putin and Covid, but if you torpedo a G7 country below the waterline, this is the ruin you get. Don't try this at home, folks. The populists are liars and con artists and will destroy your country.

There is little Labour can do as the damage is not reversible. Expect no more than managed decline for a generation, or permanently. But it will make a change, after the shortest political honeymoon of recent times, to condemn Labour for their inevitable failure.

I still get regular mail from the Tory party, as their tech tells them that I am ballpark for a Tory voter. And for Brexit, I want them to be completely erased from the political landscape at the election. So how much chance do you think they have? Amusingly, Truss and Boris will blame this on Sunak. Delusional to the end.

Inflation going down means that prices are going up less steeply. They will not go down to where they were. The economy the UK had before Brexit has gone forever. The Tories have done more damage than Putin could ever have done. There is nothing good ahead. Anyone with skills, money or ability would be well advised to emigrate.

All we get for 14 years of toxic damage is the brief pleasure at their erasure. Dear Tories. For Brexit, go and don't come back. Ever.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Yes, adults can develop food allergies. Here are 4 types you need to know about See in context

Allergies are complex beasts. I had severe hayfever as a child. It's now largely controlled by drugs. I was able to eat a lot of fruit when I was young, but as an adult became allergic to most of them, as well as some other things. Eating any new food product is a game of allergy roulette, as some of the exotic components in food processing can give me allergic responses. So one vegan cake or biscuit may be fine, but another isn't. Some of the responses are immediate, some don't kick in for several hours. This is why I don't eat out or in hotels. In AirBnBs I can cook my own food from the basics (bliss). Plane food can be an issue as they insist on serving a named meal with multiple components/sauces, often enhanced due to the taste buds/altitude canard. All planes should carry an emergency supply of (proper) oven chips - 'proper' as in not skinny French fries. Anyone stressed, distressed, allergic or hungry should be able to request a portion of chips (or several) to keep their spirits up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: After Singapore Airlines turbulence accident, flight crews urge buckling up See in context

It's rare for severe turbulence to hit without any warning, but it does happen. I wear my seat belt except when I'm queueing for the toilet, which is about every 30 mins (one of the many joys of being older). Turbulence is unpleasant - I suggest watching fast Kpop or heavy metal MVs and bopping along to them in your seat. It takes the edge off.

I have some suspicions that some pilots decline to avoid turbulence by altering altitude until the cabin crew complain about stuff getting spilled and passengers getting stressed. An element of professional machismo, forcing passengers to tough it out. I hope that is incorrect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Microsoft unveils 'AI-ready' PCs See in context

Clippy AI. Entirely unwelcome. I hope there is some way of disabling this. All the useful bits of it are already available in most browsers. The rest is best avoided.

Computers work best by being relatively dumb. By doing what users want them to, and doing the same thing each time. Preferably without blue-screening. If you thought predictive text was a bad thing, this scales the potential snafus up across your computing experience.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Yesterday’s health food fad may no longer be healthy See in context

If you want to know how healthy your diet is, you can have your health checked by a doctor or qualified nutritionist. If you lack anything, you can amend your diet or add a supplement.

Your BMI is a good rough guide as to whether you are underweight or overweight.

Most Westerners don't drink enough water to fully hydrate themselves. Rough guide: your pee should be corn coloured. Being dehydrated has a surprising, negative affect on your body. Luckily it is the easiest and cheapest thing to fix.

Puritanism is depressing. If your core diet is good, treats will not shorten your existence. Enjoy them, but don't live on them.

Japan needs to lose the demand for perfect fruit and veg. You can often buy 'wonky' fruit and veg at a small discount. It is just as edible. Do the right thing and cut the food waste.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Plant-based meat alternatives are trying to exit culture wars – an impossible task? See in context

Meat-based food has a much larger impact on global resources than plant-based, as you are growing crops to feed animals to process into food, rather than just eating the crops directly. So far more forest is cleared for a meat diet. Fishing is particularly destructive (in open waters) and polluting (fish farming). Battery farming is cruel.

Vegetarian/vegan meatalike food is a lower impact product that tastes similar to meat, to give meat-eaters a less damaging option. vegetarians/vegans sometimes eat it because it is convenient and recognisable food product without meat.

quote: 44% of Republicans actively believe that there is a “movement in the U.S. to ban red meat.

44% of Republicans most likely believe in an American God, that Europe is a country, that the moon landings were fake, that Elvis is alive and that the Earth is flat. Some things are too broken to be fixed.

There is no point in trying to force food products on people who don't want to eat them. And logic/science doesn't work on Trump supporters.

Government manipulation by price increases (energy costs, currency downgrades, vehicle fines, farming regulations) and other means (vet costs, export restrictions, abattoir restrictions, planning blocks, disease issues) have already been established as the way to go in such areas. They would lose too many votes by more direct actions. And they care more about votes than climate change or anything else.

As a vegan I don't care what you all eat. Just be honest enough to accept responsibility for any extra impact you are causing - emissions, animal suffering, pollution and deforestation.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: SoftBank Corp to help call center workers by 'softening' angry customer calls with AI See in context

Be nice to customer service staff. It's not their fault, they don't earn a sack of cash and they have to follow a script. And consider yourself lucky to get through to a human being. Companies are shifting to AI bots and web only support.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: Kyoto study finds nearly 500 translation errors for foreign tourists; new guidelines released See in context

The errors are often charming and make for a good holiday photo. They are doing their best and the effort is appreciated. Japan in general and the railways in particular are good at this. They probably have more English translations than France.

On rural trains you can listen for stations in announcements, count the stations or monitor your progress on Google Maps. Ad hoc announcements are inevitably Japanese only - your packed metro halts, the lights go off and an explanation is broadcast by the driver or guard in Japanese. Either 'We will pause here for two minutes. The lights will come on shortly' or 'Tokyo has been hit by a tsunami and we will all be under water in moments'.

There is less pressure if a language uses the Roman alphabet, but when you go beyond that, tourists have no chance. I'm surprised there isn't more Romaji, but the language manuals are often quite puritanical, some considering it to be an abomination that must never be learned or uttered.

Rural toilets understandably have Kanji-only signs. Two sweet elderly ladies passing (who spoke no English) realised my predicament, confirmed which one was for blokes, and went off giggling. Having catalogued endless copies of the 'Onna Daigaku' I was pretty sure, but it's not a mistake one wants to make.

Japan's biggest signage issue is being too democratic. All signs are not equal. In large railway stations and department stores, the Exit signs need to be bigger and a bit more obvious.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan economy suffers worse-than-expected contraction of 0.5% See in context

Japan's numbers are starting to look ominously like those of the UK. A sharp decline in currency leading to high retail inflation. The lack of union power has softened the consequences of that, low interest rates have limited the spread of the economic damage up the food chain into the middle classes, and the 'default' LDP voting reflex might maintain some political stability. But the rest is grim - not enough staff and not enough cash. Japan is on the edge of the spiral of structural decline that the UK has plunged into. This might be the last chance for Japan to sort itself out. But if the US requires it to duplicate American sanctions, tariffs and restrictions, the decline may be inevitable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: History says tariffs rarely work, but Biden’s 100% tariffs on Chinese EVs could defy the trend See in context

The tariffs will work as badly as they always have.

Only politicians fuss over national security concerns. For everyone else, low priced EVs and panels make them an option. Higher priced ones erase them. Sales of Teslas have already hit the skids. There is no political mileage in reviving a reds-under-the-bed communist witch hunt. It's just embarrassing. We will need global supply chains more, not less, as climate change bites. Whomever has the most supply chains will survive with the least damage. The isolated will see suffer economic damage, food and staff shortages (as with Brexit).

People have less cash now and America is well behind the curve on the green transition. These tariffs will slow it to a snail's pace and end it for most. The same goes for Europe. G7 economies have been built on lower cost goods from abroad. It is not feasible to end that without comprehensive economic damage on the scale seen in the UK with Brexit. Don't expect to win an election after destroying your economy and beggaring your citizens. If you do, what is about to happen to the Tories will happen to you. As they say in America, 'it's the economy, stupid'.

If they aren't serious about the green transition - and they don't seem to be - just give it up. Trump will probably pull out of the Paris deal anyway.

quote: Officials have raised concerns about the resilience of an EV supply chain dependent on other countries.

Supply chains are largely dependent on other countries and will remain so, directly and indirectly. Food and raw materials. The only country serious about self-sufficiency is North Korea, and look what Juche did to their economy and living standards.

If you are worried about geopolitics, find a way to get on with and trade with people you disagree with. It's what adults do.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Posted in: Law change lets Japanese police crack down on rule-breaking cyclists See in context

I think it would be wise to retire the bike. This is a licence to bill cyclists.

And yes, painting a cycle lane on a pavement in a country that can occasionally be a tad busy, is a recipe for disaster.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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