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kchoze comments

Posted in: Tourism boom drives Japan to convert offices into hotels See in context

I live next to an office building and I'm not sure I would want it to be converted into something called a 'bunkbed hotel' for thrifty Asian tourists who would be rolling their noisy suitcases up and down the sidewalk day and night. You can call it Nimbyism but developers have to respect the local residents.

Don't mind if I do, you NIMBY.

Thanks for providing an example of opposition based on irrational fears. You're worried about noise due to foot traffic?! That's strike one, but it should be enough to discredit your opposition alone, but let's continue. Not only that, but hotels actually generate very little noise and activities, because most patrons will not be there most of the day as they will either be exploring or doing business during the day, coming back in the evening just to relax and sleep. Finally, we're talking of an hotel in the middle of AKIHABARA, which is already crawling with people all day long. People who choose to reside in Akihabara know how it is already, they shouldn't get to protest and force thousands of people to relocate their activities elsewhere.

Have a good look at the photo that goes with the story and you'll see what they are talking about. A 'room' like that would probably violate human rights legislation in other countries!

And another irrational opposition. You might not want to sleep there, but you're not forced to, no one is being forced to. I think it's good that people have the choice to sleep there if they want, to save money. Not everyone is the same, and just because you feel you would need more space, doesn't mean that everyone needs more space too.

People are different from you, learn to tolerate rather than try to force everyone into your mold.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Tourism boom drives Japan to convert offices into hotels See in context

This is where Japan's lax zoning laws really shine. Converting an old, mostly disused office into an hotel in one year? Back in Canada, it would likely take 5 years to make a zoning change proposal to the city, have the planners and urbanists pester the developer with a lot of obscure rules, require changes to the façade or digging more parking under the building, then facing NIMBYs in public consultations, just itching to shoot down the project, it could even end up with voters asking for and getting a local referendum to vote on the project, or extorting the developer to build parks or whatever in exchange for the building permit. By the time the project finally gets off the ground, the tourism boom would had turned to bust.

In Japan, one year and it is done.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Live-action 'Attack on Titan' writer talks about changes from anime, with one demanded by creator See in context

Not the first time the Japanese shifted an Anime setting to Japan in its live-action counterpart. Black Butler did the same. This can be easily understood, the Japanese movie industry is very light on non-Japanese actors, making a movie with mostly non-Japanese actors would be next to impossible.

Lucky for them that Japan doesn't have the multicultural (hyper)sensibilities that Hollywood has. If any film company based in US did the same thing, they'd be burned at the stake for "white-washing" by race activists.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: 13-year-old girl from Fukushima Pref missing since June 24 turns up at police station See in context

According to police, Mana Saito entered the police station at around 2 p.m. Monday and was taken into protective custody. Why? Is there some funny business going on at home?

Probably just means that the police took charge of her until her parents could be contacted and to ask her where she had been, just to make sure she doesn't disappear again. After a quick search, it seems to be the modus operandi when a missing or abducted kid is found, in Japan and around the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo to get two new subway lines amid redevelopment boom See in context


Exactly what Tokyo needs, more development. Clearly the dropping population in Japan is not going to lessen Tokyo's urban sprawl any time soon.

1- Yes, though Japanese population is going down, Tokyo remains extremely attractive because of the opportunities and services it offers. As a result, Tokyo is growing rapidly in population even as rural areas decline.

2- I'm sorry, but you clearly have no idea what urban sprawl means. Urban sprawl means that a city's borders keep growing, that more and more land is being absorbed by it. The borders of Tokyo are now 45+ km away from central Tokyo. The Rinkai area is about 10 km away from Tokyo Station. Developments in Rinkai are the DIRECT OPPOSITE of sprawl. It means development by increasing the density of an area already deep inside the city.

Translated this means they'll be asking the whole country to foot the bill for Tokyo's new lines, and almost certainly by adding more debt to do it. Just keep spending you "drunken sailors".

Last I checked, both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway are PROFITABLE operations. Considering Tokyo probably accounts for more than 50% of the Japanese government revenues due to its size (1/3 the population of Japan) and its wealth, it is certainly entitled to some infrastructure investment from the government that it largely funds.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Amazing colored pencil drawings of Tokyo scenes look like actual photos See in context

@Maria Indeed, such beauty can be found all over Japan. You'd try doing something like that back in Canada and you'd just get ugly wide streets and cracked sidewalks filling up 50% of the painting every single time. Japanese cities are so awesome.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't to stop inefficient coal-fired power plants being built See in context

The government's goal is to hopefully kill a few less people as they keep them safe from the horrors of deadly radiation

Is that sarcastic? Coal power plants actually kill a lot more people due to pollution than nuclear power. The danger of radiation is much exaggerated, but even it weren't, the reality is that coal power plants expose people to more radiation than nuclear power plants as burning coal sends radioactive carbon isotopes in the air.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan's emissions target, relying on nuclear, seen as unrealistic See in context

Japan needs to restart their nuclear power plants quickly. The danger must not be minimized, but neither should it be exaggerated. The Fukushima plant survived the earthquake and tsunami easily, the problem was that the backup power equipment was sweeped away and/or flooded, leading to loss of cooling. Had that equipment been protected from the tsunami or replaced promptly, no disaster would have occurred.

Anyway, another thing to consider with these emission targets is that Japan is already doing very good in terms of GHG per capita, being at European levels already. That must be considered in the context that Japan is still a manufacturing powerhouse, and manufacturing generates a lot of GHG. Many countries like to brag of reducing emissions when this only reflects the collapse of their local manufacturing industries. Is it good for the environment when a factory closes in France to re-open in China or Vietnam where it will INCREASE its emissions per unit produced due to lower environmental regulations?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Nuclear attack survivors, 70 years later, fading away See in context

The idea that Japan would have just kept on fighting until extermination is laughable. The Japanese leadership ALWAYS knew that the war with the US would end in a peace settlement. What they wanted was a few military victories to scare the Allies into accepting more lenient terms for Japan. They were betting on repulsing an American attempt to storm a beach on Kyushu to provide that, after which the Allies would be more amenable to accepting a negotiated surrender less unfavorable to Japan (at least, that's what they thought).

The nuclear bombings were not required. Records from the Japanese government at the time don't indicate they played an enormous role in the decision. The Soviets preparing an invasion of Japan weighed way more heavily on the Japanese leadership, as Soviets would invade Manchuria, depriving Japan of its last resource-producing region.

Of course, the war would have ended much earlier had the Allies not decided they would only accept an unconditional surrender. The Japanese government had already sent feelers through third parties to see if they could negotiate peace, one of the only points they were adamant on was that the emperor not be prosecuted or gotten rid of, they weren't so keen on occupation either. But the Allies continued on, killings hundreds of thousands more people until they got their unconditional surrender... and ended up preserving the emperor anyway.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Posted in: 11-year-old dies after being hit by dump truck; driver arrested See in context

Japan, at about 50%, has an abnormally high rate of pedestrian and cyclist deaths as a percentage of all fatalities involving motor vehicles - and too large of a percentage of this number are children.

First of all, Japan has a very low rate of motor vehicle death, among the lowest in the world, so that has to be contextualized, 50% of 6 500 is still less than 16% out of 35 000 (data from the US).

Second, Japan has an insanely high amount of pedestrians and cyclists compared to other developed countries. According to trip surveys, anywhere between 30 and 50% of trip in Japan are made on foot or on a bike in most cities, in North America, that total is closer to 10%. Yet, the pedestrian death rate per million people is slightly lower in Japan than in the US, so, per trip, walking in Japan should be seen as 3 or 4 times safer than in North America.

Third, Japan's streets are not favorable to high speeds, the result is that when there are accidents involving motor vehicles, these tend to occur at much lower speeds, so that the likelihood of drivers or passengers dying in them is much lower.

Overall, I think walking in Japan is quite safe. Europe is safer, but that's largely because pedestrians are concentrated in old urban areas where cars are extremely rare or are forced to drive at very low speeds.

As to the solutions proposed here, the idea of making every pedestrian crossing a protected crossing (when the light is green for cars, it's red for pedestrians and vice versa) is not helpful in my mind, except in a few exceptional cases. Having lights do that would encourage people to jaywalk all the time. Who wants to have to wait 1-2 minute at EVERY intersection to get a light? It would also make drivers less wary of pedestrians and cyclists, so when they drive on roads without traffic lights, they will be more likely to drive carelessly as they're not used to ceding the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists. Finally, as it would make walking and biking anywhere extremely time-consuming, it would incite people to drive more, and more cars on the streets means making them more dangerous.

It seems to me that most of these accidents are due to trucks, buses or other heavy vehicles. I think people should look at the design of such vehicles to see how they can be make safer to drive.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: 8-year-old girl killed by truck while crossing street with mother, sister See in context

It is a tragedy, but it gives me hope that police in Japan don't hesitate to arrest the drivers who hit and kill pedestrians and cyclists and charge them with reckless driving causing death. That is as it should be, people who drive are responsible for what they do, they are the ones driving tons of steel down the road at great speeds and creating danger for everyone, they should be held accountable when they don't operate their machines safely.

In North America, drivers who hit and kill pedestrians often just get sent home and are never bothered again, unless they are drunk when they do it. Even when they are wildly at fault, like hitting a pedestrian crossing the street on a crossing and with the light, they at most get a summons for not respecting right of way and a small fine.

I'm not kidding, search for "Allison Liao".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: German vandals ordered jailed, caned in Singapore See in context

It's a bit too severe for my taste, but only in order of magnitude. I'm not keen on corporal punishment and think 9 months is too long, maybe one month would suffice, with a major fine.

To those who say they should have just been asked to clean up their mess, no. The point is that you cannot possibly catch every vandal, can't even catch most of them. So just asking them to clean up their mess when they're caught has next to no dissuasive impact, it would be like punishing theft by asking the thieves to give back what they stole, and then send them on their way. Who wouldn't be a thief in that case? You try to steal, if you're successful, you get to keep what you stole, if you're caught, you just give it back. There's no risk at all to thieving.

Likewise, if vandals were just told to repair what they broke, vandalism would essentially be a no-risk operation (unless the costs of repairs are sky-high). Harsh punishment is thus required to dissuade people not to do these relatively minor crimes, so that people tempted to do them think twice about it. I'm not too keen on prison time because prison is expensive to society, big fines would be better I think.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Kyoto’s amazing underground bike parking system See in context

Ironic, given that Kyoto did more to "mar the scenery" with its fortress-like behemoth of a new station than a few bicycles ever will.

Kyoto Station does clash with the image of Kyoto, however, your point is largely incorrect. Kyoto Station is nowhere near the "scenery" of traditional Kyoto and is located inside a business district with plenty of tall office buildings anyway. It is rarely visible from the traditional touristic areas and is no worse than the rest of the modern skyline of Kyoto.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Kyoto’s amazing underground bike parking system See in context

4.26 million yen seems surprisingly cheap to me.

Indeed. That's about the price of an underground car parking spot in North American cities. From the video, it seems this can hold dozens of bikes. So that's what, around 1 000$ per bike parking space?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hayao Miyazaki says Charlie Hebdo drawings of Muhammad were a mistake See in context

With all due respect, Miyazaki seems not to be aware that Charlie Hebdo was an anti-racist newspaper that lampooned most harshly the Front National, France's far-right anti-immigration party. They mocked everyone, but it's only when they mocked Islamists that they got death threats and were victims of terrorist acts.

32 ( +47 / -15 )

Posted in: New law takes aim at Japan's glut of vacant houses See in context

Tackling the issue of decrepit homes that dot many cities is a great idea. It is best to incentivize the sale of these units to allow for redevelopment rather than have new houses built on the periphery as is often seen, even in cities with declining population. Getting people back into older neighborhoods could also keep older commercial areas alive.

It seems to me in the case mentioned in the article that the main problem is that it is too expensive to unload the house, it's probably less expensive to keep paying the tax on a fully depreciated asset. Increasing the tax may make it more likely for people to bite the bullet... but maybe it would be best to encourage a new alternative. Maybe cities could be more proactive and take over these properties if the owner wishes to get rid of it. The city could then negotiate good rates for demolishing the buildings and sell the land itself, with the previous owner and the city splitting up the profits from the sale of the lot.

That way, people with undesired property could unload it easily, get some money back, the cities could also make money selling the lots and revitalize some of their older areas, and the developers would also make money. It would seem to me a win-win-win scenario.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Station art See in context

Cool! Much better than that spider at Roppongi Hills.

You want to know the funniest thing about that spider? Its name is "maman", which is French for "mommy". Because when we think of our mothers, we of course think of a huge monstrous spider towering over us, right? ...right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Condo to loom over samurai graves, spurring protest See in context

What is wrong with Japanese municipalities or even the national government that they can't establish historical preservation zones? Central Paris still looks as it does because of zoning that protects the 18th and 19th Century core of the city. The Americans were convinced to not bomb Kyoto, Nara and Kanazawa. Why are the Japanese so blase about ruining sites like these?

To answer your question: respect of private property is much stronger in Japan than in Europe or North America.

Paris is not a good example. It is a mummified corpse of a city with housing that are not built to modern standards and that is one of the most expensive on Earth because of that very zoning. The city cannot grow and evolve to answer the needs of its changing population. The zoning that protects Paris works on the same logic as the zoning that protects soulless American subdivisions: once an area is built, it must be protected ad vitam aeternam from change and kept in that form no matter what.

The Japanese approach makes more economic sense and places the interests and needs of current and future generations above previous generation, and that's not such a bad thing.

In this particular case, there may be a point to preserve access to the sun around recognized historical landmarks, but I'm wary of passing arbitrary laws or intervening arbitrarily. I think people need to think about the issue intelligently and apply a rule for all such landmarks, keeping in mind the impact this may have on housing affordability and the ability of areas to adapt to the needs of current and future generations.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Posted in: Je suis Charlie? Attack sparks debate on free speech limits See in context

For me, this debate on free speech is blaming the victim and defending medieval barbarism. Freedom of religion should be limited to three rights only: The right of heresy The right of blasphemy The right of apostasy

If you choose to believe in a religion, fine, but I'm not forced to respect YOUR beliefs and what you consider sacred. Asking me to is pushing your religion on me and an assault on my freedom of religion. If you think drawing Muhammad is blasphemy, well I don't and will have no qualm about doing so. If you don't like it... Well that's too bad for you.

Also, I don't believe one instant that religion should be off limits to criticism. If you don't like what someone is saying, then stop listening to him or reading him, or engage him in debate. But no one has a right to not be offended by anything and to ask that potentially "offensive" stuff be made illegal.

Some will say that this freedom is bad because it makes some communities angry and creates tensions... To which I would reply that avoiding anything "offensive" simply hides the tensions and allow them to fester and become more fundamental. It allows for subcultures to emerge that contradict directly a society's basic values because confronting these problematic facets is avoided for the sake of not being "offensive". A great example of that is the UK where a poll on social beliefs was unable to find ANY Muslim who would say that homosexuality is not immoral. In order to maintain social peace and protect religious beliefs from criticism, they let basic homophobia reign in certain communities and never confronted it.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Posted in: BABYMETAL voted Best Metal Album of the Year by magazine See in context

¨I like metal, but let's face it, it's not exactly the most challenging musical genre out there. So it's a bit funny to see metal purists get worked up over this.

What do you mean by "challenging"? Technically and musically, metal is probably one of the hardest popular genres out there to play, not only do metal bands who want some cred have to be technically proficient and able to play inspiring solos, but the songs' tempos are typically very high, so they have to be able to play technically difficult solos very quickly. Many prog and technical death bands even seem to care more about pushing the boundaries of complexity and technicality than about actually making good songs.

Metalheads have typically been quick to judge bands that they thought weren't "metal" enough. I remember a lot of backlash against nu-metal that incorporated rap, punk and hardcore influences and sometimes eschewed solos, back when I followed the metal community more in the early 2000s. Being "tru" was considered paramount.

As to Babymetal... it's weird. They have some real metal in there with the girls dancing to it, then the girls start singing and J-pop intrudes for a while. Still, from what I've seen, most metalheads have taken the band in stride.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Scarecrows outnumber people in dying Tokushima town See in context

This is actually the reality in most developed nations, even growing countries like Canada have plenty of small depopulating towns and villages. Without immigration, Japan is just feeling it more than other countries. The issue is simple: lack of economic opportunities and people's preference for access to services and entertainment available in big metro areas. The jobs available in such areas tend to have very low wages too.

The usual story is for kids to go to cities for their studies, and without hope of finding a job for their skills back home, they stay in the cities or its suburbs where they start their family, only going back occasionally to their home town to see their family, sometimes the last trip home is to bury their mother or father and settle their estate. It's not a recent phenomenon either, I seem to remember that in the 70s, Tokyo-born residents of Tokyo were a minority in Tokyo, most people actually came from the country. It's the same everywhere in the developed world.

Ultimately, I think we may have to come to terms that this decline cannot be reversed. Triage might be required, with efforts to concentrate population in sparsely inhabited areas into the largest municipality around rather than every small town trying to attract people and hurting each other's attempt to do the same.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Cultural lessons in housing and construction See in context

Personally, I don't think the Japanese approach is so bad. Yes, they destroy and rebuild periodically... but North Americans and Europeans put fortunes into upkeeping, renovating and remodeling old houses that need only one thing: a private rendezvous with a bulldozer. So in the end, I am not certain the Japanese way is more wasteful than the North American or European way. And houses do still depreciate, I calculated it with my mother recently, once you take into account inflation and all major remodeling (not even counting upkeep costs and minor maintenance), her middle-class house, in a desirable suburb, lost at least 50 000$ in value over the years.

Furthermore, I think one of the main reasons why the Japanese have this mentality is that building and zoning regulations are very lax. Respect of one's private property is higher, so when someone wants to rebuild a house, or even build an apartment bloc in lieu of an older house, doing so is much, much easier in Japan than in western countries. In North America or Europe, if you go to a city office and say you want to destroy a house and build, say, a duplex instead, first, they'll say it's illegal because zoning says only a house that is exactly the same as the one that is already there can be built. No lot splitting, no townhouse, no multifamily housing. Then, if you want to change that, they will assemble NIMBY firing squads (AKA zoning/planning committees) and take any objection from any neighbor to block your request for a change in zoning.

Even if you get through all that, they will try to drown you in red tape to discourage you. The mentality is that "once it's built, it STAYS". It was a bungalow built in the 50s, now there is a subway station next door so it ought to be an apartment/condo building with 4-5 stories to satisfy demand? Too bad! It was a bungalow, it will stay a bungalow! Neighborhoods must NEVER change!

Of course, the result of all that is that building more housing in existing neighborhoods is essentially impossible. And as a consequence, house values explode over time... except it's not the house that has value, it's the LAND, the location. If you offered someone to sell the house, but only the house, you'd pay to move it brick by brick to the countryside so you could keep the land, no one would pay even 10% of the value of the house with the land. It's most evident in Vancouver, I checked houses there on a real estate site... a 1-million dollar house, but the municipal evaluation said the building was worth 50 000$, the land was worth 950 000$.

Anyway, personally I love Japanese cities. They feel alive and organic with their eclectic housing and lack of uniformity, they feel always in evolution and in movement. In comparison, Canadian neighborhoods that I knew look mummified, static, unmoving, stuck in the past, with change strictly stamped down.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Posted in: No. of traffic accident deaths in Tokyo soars in October See in context

@kchoze no but if your comparing which country has safer drivers then a km/fatalities is the most accurate. ive experienced many different countires driving habbits and apart from China, Japanese driver are bad. and with the increasing number of elderly on the road (who many whom shouldnt be) this higher risk group will only add to the accident rate

That is not an accurate metric. North American drivers for instance drive plenty of miles every day on grade-separated highways built to travel at high speeds with minimal risk and they are always given plenty of space to maneuver. Of course the amount of accidents per distance is going to be low.

From my own point of view, Japanese drivers are exceptionally safe overall, though I mainly saw this from a pedestrian's perspective. When I was in Japan, it was frequent to be shocked by how drivers would respect my right-of-way as a pedestrian, for example when crossing wide intersections, drivers would generally wait for me to cross before starting their turns, even when they would have had plenty of time to make their maneuver in front of me. In Canada, drivers in the same situation would judge they had the time to turn in front of me and would do so (which can cause problems when the next driver follows the first vehicle and turns also, creating a stream of cars in front of me).

I guess it goes to show, the world's worst drivers are always the drivers back home... no matter what home is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: No. of traffic accident deaths in Tokyo soars in October See in context


@Stewart the problem with that stat is its flawed, UK US and Australia all have higher driving rates per capita than Japan and they each driver drive on average a lot more than the average Japanese driver. most privately owned vehicles in Japan are driven less than 10,000km a year. vehicles in the US Australia etc are driven well over 15,000km per annum. more driving = higher risk/exposure. if you could calculate the number of accidents per km driven I would say Japan would fair a lot worse.

So if road accident deaths doubled, it would be good as long as driven kms tripled? Not buying it, the goal is to reduce the number of deaths in absolute terms, or per capita to have less people die each year in traffic accidents. The safest km is the km not traveled, so if the Japanese drive less, that is a good thing.


Highly populated area+narrow streets/roads+speeding= accident deaths. Police can't do much about the first two, but the third can be decreased by enforcement.

Yet you look at the data and areas with low density and large roads in the US, Canada and Australia have much, much more accident deaths than Japan. The narrow streets and high population density do not lead to accident deaths, they prevent them, they do so largely by making driving uncomfortable and encouraging people to walk, bike and use transit, all much safer forms of travel once you remove the likelihood of being killed by a car driver.

To all those who spoke of seatbelts, that is what is called a "windshield perspective", a bias to view the world only from the point of view of car users. It's important to know who are these victims. If most of them are pedestrians or cyclists hit by cars, "safety blitzes" to make sure car drivers and passengers wear seatbelts are completely useless. Seatbelts have no safety benefits for pedestrians and cyclists, if they are hit by cars, the fact that the car occupants buckled or not is irrelevant to them.

Depending on where accidents occur, the ways they can be reduced differ.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Mothers react to being called by their first names after years of just being 'Mama' See in context

I've personally called my parents by their first names since I learned to speak. I don't remember ever calling my mom "mommy".

My mother blames my father because when he spoke to us as kids, he would never say "go see your mother/mommy" he would say "go see [her first name]". I like it personally, it puts the focus on the person, not their role, on who they are, not what they are.

Anyway, knowing how calling someone by their first name in Japan is rare and a sign of close friendship, I understand why it may have such power.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo pulls plug on late-night Roppongi-Shibuya bus service See in context

Anyway, if it made business sense, they could do it. Other cities have 24-hour systems. If a big increase in infrastructure is needed to run maintenance parallel with operations, maybe it doesn't make business sense.

Here's the thing. In Japan, transit is largely seen as a business that ought to at least be self-funded or, better yet, be profitable. In the rest of the developed world (Europe, North America, Oceania), transit is seen as a public service and local governments see no problem with paying 30 to 70% of the total cost of providing service through taxes. So most cities that have 24-hour systems run night routes that "lose" thousands of dollars per day and don't care about it, because the point is to provide a public service to those who need it, not to make money.

That explains also why it's not rare in Japan for bus schedules to have huge gaps where no service is to be expected for 2 or 3 hours. In North America or Europe, the transit operator would still run 90% empty buses at least once per hour on such routes. These buses would lose a lot of money, but they would run them nonetheless to provide mobility to all citizens.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Foreskin clip joints take unwary males for a ride See in context

Didn't know you could shower off AIDS.

Male circumcision for HIV prevention: current research and programmatic issues HA Weiss, KE Dickson, K Agot, CA Hankins - Aids, 2010 - journals.lww.com

Even those who believe that circumcision helps prevent HIV are forced to concede that there is absolutely no evidence that circumcision has any protective effect against HIV in the developed world. All studies on the issue, from the US Navy to medical clinics, reveal no correlation between HIV status and circumcision status.

Even in Africa, the epidemiological studies on HIV status and circumcision revealed that in half of African countries, circumcised men are MORE likely to be HIV positive than uncircumcised men, in the other half of countries, it's the other way around. There just isn't any epidemiological proof of evidence of circumcision being effective against HIV. The only evidence are an handful of clinical studies which have been criticized for flawed methodology (losing contact with more people than were infected by HIV, people reporting no sexual activity being tested as HIV positive, offering sex ed to circumcised men and not to the control group, etc...).

In Zimbabwe, after a big circumcision drive, people realized that the rate of HIV infection in circumcised men was higher than in uncircumcised men. HIV is also rising in the Middle-East, where almost all men are circumcised.

As far as I am concerned, the idea that circumcision helps against HIV is bad science and completely unproven, but some people push it for cultural reasons only.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: In some countries, there is a ban on adults and children wearing religious clothing and symbols such as burqas, veils, head scarves, skullcaps, turbans and crucifixes in public places like schools, re See in context

I support such bans but only in certain contexts like school and public service. My take on it is that freedom of religion as a concept should be the protection of individuals from religious dictates. The basis of true freedom of religion is the right to blasphemy, the right to heresy and the right to apostasy.

Banning religious symbols from given public areas send a strong message that:

1- Religion is a choice, never an obligation. Religious obligations have no basis in law, not only are they not upheld by the law, but the law will consciously ignore them and punish anyone trying to force people to respect religious practices.

2- Any religious practice is a choice for individuals. As individuals are free to choose their religion and are not, and can not, be obligated to do anything for their religion, it means the law needs not bend to accommodate religious practices. If you can choose to wear a religious symbol, you can also choose not to wear it, and you must assume the consequences of choosing to wear it.

3- Religion is primarily a private matter, not a public matter to impose on others.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Osaka police admit hiding 81,000 crimes to clean up image See in context

That reminds me of the Wire, with the mayor demanding the top cops to lower crime rates to use for their campaigns and the top cops pressuring cops down the hierarchy to fudge the stats. When the trouble hits though, the top cops have no problem throwing lower-ranking policemen to take the blame for what they themselves requested.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: 400-year-old garden in Okayama to be replaced with condominium complex See in context

Maybe we should all live in capsule hotels next to conbinis and train stations.

The point isn't that people should live this way or that way, the point is that if someone wants to live in a one-room apartment next to combinis and train stations, they should be able to. People shouldn't be going around forbidding these developments through zoning because in their view "that's not how people ought to live, you need to have a big lawn and a house, if you can't afford it, get out of our city".

If people want to live in ways that are economically inefficient but that they find more pleasing, no one wants to stop them... it's just that their decision should not be subsidized nor imposed by law.

When you let people make their own choices, you get things you might not like, just like the current example. But at the same time, the garden didn't seem to be worth much for the owners, the ones who sold it or who bought it, and even the community didn't seem to mobilize to have it re-open when the old owners closed it down to the public. It seems people started caring about it only when its destruction was announced.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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