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JoeLarabell comments

Posted in: Japan Tour Guide service helps match visitors with a guide on their trip to Japan See in context

Maybe that's why there's no fee. I just looked on the JGA web site and it only says you need a license if you receive a fee for doing the guiding. But the license exam includes language fluency so I imagine that leaves out a number of capable volunteers who would otherwise make reasonable guides. This looks like an effort for some enterprising web developer to make a couple bucks matching volunteers with tourists... I wonder if there are any free sites doing the same thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Want to make anime like 'Princess Mononoke?' Soon you can get the software Ghibli uses for free See in context

There's only about 15 minutes of computer animation in Princess Mononoke and 10 minutes of that was just coloring. The rest was all hand-drawn and colored. But from what I've heard, that was the last animation that was primarily drawn by hand so if you pick a slightly later Ghibli release, it may well have used the software mentioned in the article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Robotic dance group World Order is back with a new music video filmed in Shanghai See in context

When the video ends, I noticed that one of the four follow-up videos suggested by the Youtube plugin happens to be a version of the same song shot in India... no mention of that in the article, of course. I especially like how every video they do (as far as I can tell) is available online as soon as it's released as opposed to hiding them behind a flurry of copyrights and paywalls. My favorites are their Boy Meets Girl cover and Change Your Life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Samsung unveils new smartwatch to challenge Apple Watch See in context

The minute a new product enters the market, other businesses rush to make similar products, thus quickly pushing profits down.

Ignoring, of course, that smartwatches were on the market years before Apple released theirs. Apple simply has more marketing clout and more fanboys who are willing to buy into the "this has never been done before" spin. The reason everyone is jumping in now is because Apple, by finally coming out with an entry of their own, has popularized the market for smartwatches, making it a more profitable game for everyone. Asset-based speculation is only more profitable in the short term. I doubt Apple is going to go broke because there's a competitor nipping at their heels. In fact, having multiple large companies each offering a product in the same space further legitimizes the product and, in many cases, increases the total market for that product by giving people the illusion of choice. Often, as a result, the smaller makers (like Pebble -- a predecessor to the iWatch) can become more profitable as well. In the meantime, the pressure for constant improvements to stay ahead of one's competitors benefits consumers as they are able to get more function for less money. Who cares about the speculators? They don't produce any benefit to society, anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Muslim man accidentally served bacon while being detained at immigration center See in context

It appears that the Japanese government does not require meals served to those being detained to adhere to religious standards...

And apparently RocketNews doesn't read their own stories. It sounds to me like they were trying to accommodate his request but through an inadvertent screw-up, some bacon got through. I can easily see that happening. Some dweeb going down the line sprinkling bacon on every salad missed the note attached to this guy's tray. That happens when you have minimum-wage people doing repetitive work. At least they apologized for the mishap.

The same thing happened to an Indian co-worker of mine while we were visiting Korea. Despite our host carefully explaining what "strict vegetarian" meant, they still brought him soup with a crab leg inside. Lucky (because crab is so delicious)? I suppose... but if you've spent your life following a tradition, it kinda sucks to have your self-discipline thwarted by the inattentiveness of some drone.

By the way, my coworker also stopped eating entirely after that. But it wasn't a "hunger strike" -- it was more of a ritual purification (meditation or prayer, if you will). I suspect a similar motive on the part of this Muslim guy.

I really wish there was a way to filter out RocketNews stories on JT. They're so clueless...

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Posted in: Would-be lawmakers must ensure they are well-known in the constituency. To do that, they have to spend every spare moment at parties and festivals. If you are a mother with small children, you just ca See in context

I wish there were a way to convince people to not vote for candidates who drive around blasting their name. Unfortunately, nobody would remember the names of the candidates who don't blast it around the neighborhood at 9am Sunday morning.

I can relate to what Koda-san is saying. The two candidates closest to my neighborhood seem to pop up at every school event, every festival, and just about every other event with rare exceptions. I sometimes wonder whether they have enough time left over to debate legislation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: What do you think of the quality of medical care at hospitals in Japan? See in context

I just spent a few days in St. Luke and I thought the level of care there was excellent, the doctors I've been dealing with seem quite competent, and many (though not all) speak fluent English. The outpatient areas remind me of a resort hotel and the most I've ever had to wait for service was 30 minutes.

Local clinics are another matter. The one the family and I use most these days is pretty good. The head doctor is fairly old but he seems to keep himself up-to-date (from what I can tell). His son works out of the same clinic and I imagine he'll be taking over at some point. The clinic we used to use because it was right across from our apartment at the time was OK but the doctor there wasn't terribly sharp and seems to be the kind that just throws medicines at problems until one of them sticks.

It's a mixed bag, for sure, but there are some excellent facilities in Japan if you know where to look. Compared to the States, the co-payments for pretty much anything are unbelievably low. I visited my surgeon once, 20 minutes discussion, no prescription. It cost me 250 yen. I looked at the Obamacare plans just out of curiosity and the only plans I would qualify for have a minimum $80 co-pay just for showing up at the clinic. I'm actually glad I chose to remain in Japan for my recent surgery and I'm pleased with the service and culture at St. Luke as well as with the Japanese healthcare system in general.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Scientific calculator with spreadsheet function See in context

Wouldn't a 7" tablet and a spreadsheet app be more useful?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Train station devises new way to prevent roadside bicycle parking See in context

Fines would work if they'd come around to pick up the errant bicycles more than once a month... or even if it was at random times. As it is, I can look at the signs to see the last time they came around and, if it's within a week or two, I know I'm safe.

That said... I probably wouldn't want to be the first to park over the pictures but I might if a bunch of bikes are already there. That means it's up to the lowest ass in the neighborhood to break the ice then the congestion starts again. But it's better than doing nothing at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Microsoft working on smartwatch: Forbes See in context

Copying Apple? Apple hasn't released a watch yet. Sony and Samsung's are already available and there was even a couple of start-ups offering smart watches years ago. If anything, Apple (and Microsoft) are copying everyone else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Asada wavering on retirement; says Mori's comments didn't bother her See in context

Gee... isn't that the same "Mr. Mori" who was more-or-less forced out of office after his approval ratings fell into the low single digits? The one who finished his round of golf after hearing about the fishing boat that sunk after a US submarine collided with it? That "Mr Mori"???

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Pocari Sweat sports drink aims to be first beverage to land on moon See in context

I guess all that Tang the Apollo astronauts brought with them in the 60s doesn't count...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: How to dispose of electronics, large household items and giant stuffed gorillas See in context

I once gave a washing machine to an acquaintance who washer was on the brink of death. I found out later that he bought a pair of tin snips and cut his old washer into pieces and put it out with the non-burnable trash over the course of several weeks.

@FightingViking: Even though the sodai-gomi service still exists, they won't pick up large electronic items like TVs any more. You're expected to recycle your old appliances through the store where you bought the replacement item or make other arrangements.

Considering the hassle involved, those guys with the noisy trucks are sometimes worth the fee.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: NHK's 'Kohaku Uta Gassen' receives highest TV rating of last 10 years - 44.5% See in context


I watch Kohaku every year and I was disappointed by this year's show. What used to be a forum for Japan to present their best musical talent is slowly degrading into one of those senseless variety shows. I was actually embarrassed watching that Yuru-chara having a nervous breakdown on screen. I can understand a few short cameos by Kumamon, given his sudden popularity, but... what does that have to do with music? And there was one group (GMT something?) who couldn't even carry a tune. WTF...

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Posted in: Foreign visitors pick the 20 coolest places in Japan See in context

You don't need a reservation to visit the SkyTree observation deck and haven't for quite a while now. But you should be prepared for long lines on a good-weather weekend.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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