Mlodinow comments

Posted in: Tokyo's Shibuya Station now equipped with anti-flooding facility See in context

Yeah it's at the bottom of the hill but I've never seen or heard Shibuya station getting flooded, sounds like another construction contract to milk money

I can't remember if it was bad enough to stop the subways or not but a number of years ago I can remember exiting the subway up the stairs and a veritable torrent of water flowing down into the small mall under scramble crossing. Since then you'll notice that the top of some exit stairs have a raised slope from the street to the top of the stairs or a step up to the top of the stairs. One particularly bad one is the exit to the side of Shibuya 109, and I'm surprised it hasn't caused someone to fall and crack their head open yet (or maybe it has, I don't know).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan eyes 'energy forests' for woody biomass power generation See in context


Use city garbage and food waste to fuel biomass plants.

Actually, this is not suitable for biomass fired plants. Japan has a good number of waste to energy (WtE) plants which convert city waste to electricity. For biomass you need pellets which are generally made from waste wood / wood by-products, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's two largest opposition parties to merge See in context

What hasn't worked many times in the past is sure to work this time! /s

Rather than relying on popularity, which clearly none of the opposition parties have, why not trying to differentiate yourselves by policy? And by policy, I mean sensible policy which offers a clear, reasonable alternative to the LDP. Most parties seem to be either policy clones of the LDP or complete nutjobs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 188 new coronavirus cases See in context


While I agree with your sentiment, it's been explained previously that there is no direct relationship between the number of tests published each day vs the total positives for that day due to some test results taking longer to back than others. On the face of it though, if the actual positive rate is over 10% that would be a clear indication that there isn't enough testing.

I also agree that any slightly positive news will be misappropriated by the govt and lead to yet another wave of infections.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Gargling solution flies off shelves after Osaka governor touts anti-virus effect See in context

Strangerland, no way I am qualified to answer your perfectly valid question, but from my understanding we usually get the virions landing and sticking to the membranes of our upper respiratory tract first, where they take a while to gain a foothold and make intrusive attacks into the body cells. The body's defences go into some kind of action there, and I have heard suggestions that some dead'uns can be washed/swallowed into the stomach acid and passed out of the system.

Gargling, if it works, would be aiming at this middle camp ground.

Seeing as gargling is done with an open mouth you would almost surely be expelling a certain amount of a combined mouthwash/mucus mix out into the air, probably in a bathroom, probably where people other than you will use the basin, taps etc.

So on top of the issue that the virus is respiratory, even if there is a reduced viral load in your mouth, the very act of gargling seems counterproductive to reducing the spread of infection.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Former 'Terrace House' cast member arrested for marijuana possession See in context

I am against police using their substantial power to stop anyone for no reason. In the US if Shion Okamoto was stopped without probable cause the evidence would be impermissible. However, in this country...

The thing is, J police ask if they can search you. If you say yes (coerced or otherwise) there is no way you're dismissing that evidence. No telling what they'll do if you say no though, so either way you're in trouble if you're carrying anything you shouldn't be.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't considers stockpiling 'Abenomasks' after delivery plan draws criticism See in context

How about receiving even the first ¥100,000? Admittedly I applied a week or two after the form arrived but it's been over 2 months and still nothing in my bank account.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan hasn't decided to ease entry ban, foreign minister says See in context

By continuing to ban countries such as NZ which have eliminated the virus its clear that Japan is trying to wait and leverage a deal on terms extremely favourable to Japan. There is literally no reason to continue to ban visitors from such countries as it keeps nationals of those countries hostage here and also prevents what could be valuable tourism/business income.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan may re-open borders to travelers from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, NZ See in context

Guess no trips home to Australia, NZ etc for the time being...

This might actually be okay? Japan seems to want to limit travel to Japan to business travelers, so as long as you were returning to NZ/Aust for family reasons, you would be returning to Japan for work.

Of course, I have no idea how this would reconcile with the restricted travel (presumably only for 2 weeks?) upon returning to Japan though. The plan seems quite poorly thought out and unappealing to those countries Japan wants to allow travel with.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Posted in: Japan may re-open borders to travelers from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, NZ See in context

Going by NZ news, NZ currently has no intention to re-open travel with Japan, only with other countries who are near to eliminating the virus themselves, such as Australia.

I can understand that Japan wants to err on the side of caution but it seems over the top to restrict this to business travelers and also to restrict where people can visit within Japan. These travelers will be only from countries where COVID-19 has been eliminated (or at least will be by the time this starts). Either travel is safe or it isn't, and if it isn't why restart it early and risk a second wave between the early-mover countries?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Posted in: Tech companies target temperature-monitoring patches for COVID-19 See in context

Given that COVID19 seems to have a very high number of asymptomatic cases, you really have to wonder if all the tech which companies are developing to fight the virus have commercial value. I hope for their sake that the patches and other things which are being developed are robust enough to be repurposed for other viruses as well.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo to reopen gyms in next phase of post-emergency road map See in context

No doubt gyms will require all users to wear a mask, which is kind of impractical for cardio workouts such as running. I have no problem to wear a mask if a store requires it etc, but if the situation is such that a mask is essential I'd rather the gym just stayed closed. They are always free to only allow use of every second treadmill etc but I imagine that mine won't.

(and yes, I can always run outside, but I much prefer treadmills due to the softer running surface and less intersections etc)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Ardern stays cool as earthquake rattles New Zealand capital See in context

The Beehive (NZ Parliament building) was built with a base isolation unit as it is home to NZ Civil Defense, which organizes the response to natural disasters and so the likes of this quake would be almost nothing there. It is designed to withstand the direct hit of even a magnitude 7.5 on the Wellington fault. The story seems a bit of a storm in a teacup given everything else which is going on right now.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Posted in: Taking aim See in context

Surprisingly expensive for a personal rifle, at 275,000 yen.

I thought you must be wrong so I checked but you're totally right. After the initial shock that such guns are surprisingly (to me) cheap, I felt it's probably par for the course than Japan would select a gun which is twice as expensive as other comparable options.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: With new 'English Online Banking' service, Sony Bank rises to say that Japan finally has a bank for foreign residents in Japan See in context


Do you have a link to the MUFG Bank English site? I currently use MUFG's online banking site, and it is totally JA, with no EN option that I can see. I use Chrome's built-in translation. But, an actual English page would be preferred to machine translation.

Apologies, I checked it again and it may only be the money transfers section of their system. When you click on transfer a language option comes up on the bottom right of the screen and you can change to one of about 6 languages there.

So maybe MUFG isn't so hot after all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: With new 'English Online Banking' service, Sony Bank rises to say that Japan finally has a bank for foreign residents in Japan See in context

Why do they need your health insurance card? No need to show health insurance card to get a hanko registered.

MUFJ also has significant portions of its online banking system in English, probably others do too.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: Man slashes supermarket employee after being refused product exchange See in context

The fact that he had a knife on him indicates he went there with the intent to injure someone if he was refused. No salad oil in prison mate!

23 ( +25 / -2 )

Posted in: New Zealand, Australia say too soon to ease restrictions despite coronavirus slowdown See in context

I mean, really. Since when is five deaths considered a crisis?

Let the negative votes roll...But you know I'm right.

Tell that to the dead people.

Also, your logic is flawed. It was a crisis, but thankfully limited to just 5 fatalities (so far) due to the lock-down. A crisis averted is still a crisis.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Anxiety prevails over state of emergency declaration See in context

I'm surprised (well, not really) that more shops aren't practicing proper social distancing. The only one that I've seen so far is Starbucks, where they have packed away 30-50% of the chairs to make sure customers sit at least 1m away from each other. Now even they will close for a few weeks, but I am quite sure that next weekend I will still see throngs of neigbourhood children and parents down at the small park on my street, playing together and happily ignoring the pleas for their own safety.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: What will life in Japan under a state of emergency look like? See in context

The barber who cut my hair and shaved my face was wearing a mask but I am not and unfortunately he sniveled several times.

By all accounts I've seen Covid-19 does not cause a runny nose. It may block your sinuses, but not cause them to run. Your barber most likely had allergies or something quite unrelated. If you are so concerned you probably shouldn't have gone out to get a haircut.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Joseph caught in middle of spat between World Rugby and JRFU See in context


I'm no big fan of SANZAR, but the reason the Sunwolves were kicked out is because the JRFU, in another amazingly stupid decision, pulled their financial backing of the club. You can't really blame the other clubs for not wanting to prop up the Sunwolves who had something like 4 wins from 3 seasons at the time of the decision.

The success of the RWC with the Japanese public really showed that the JRFU made the wrong decision, but try telling the oyajis that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan considers withholding tax system on casino winnings by foreigners See in context

My understanding is that only large wins in the USA get taxed (more than $1,000 or so) and that they have to be on bets at odds greater than 300 to 1 (meaning jackpots and the like). This means that players of most table games will not face withholding tax.

Unless they set fair tax-free winning margins and a reasonable tax rate I don't think they are going to take many people away from Macau and Vegas. A handful of medium sized casinos dotted around Japan hardly offers the experience either of the big two do.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Fans allowed to bring food after shortages at Rugby World Cup venues See in context

@Kameel: For alcohol it was beer or highball only. Non-alcohol, I think tea and a couple of Japanese type softdrinks like Calpis etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Fans allowed to bring food after shortages at Rugby World Cup venues See in context

I went to NZ vs Sth Africa & waited literally a full hour for food. One smart beer girl was plying her trade actually along that line it was so insanely long.

And then the next day I got an email about how now ppl can bring their own food in but there would continue to be Japanese and "international" food available. I'm genuinely puzzled as to what the international food option(s) were. The only one which could be remotely considered in that category was a plain sausage on a stick, no bun, no sides, just a sausage on a stick...otherwise it was just yakisoba, etc).

If they bothered having more than 4 staff at each food/drink window and served decent food they would make a killing. So many people I saw left the queue or didn't bother joining it because they saw how insane it was. Did they seriously not understand that people like to much on something along with their beer?

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Posted in: Lawmaker who made Russia war remarks suggests same with S Korea See in context

I always wonder why the people who are most enthusiastic for war are also the ones who are the least enthusiastic about personally being the first to step off the boat onto the beach.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hunters, police search for bear spotted multiple times in Sapporo See in context

Yeah amateur hunters (in Japan invariably 60+ year old men) shooting a wild animal on the move in residential neighborhoods is really smart. In literally any other developed nation, the city would call on zoo or wildlife/game officials to sedate and relocate the bear, with lethal means only as a last resort.

But this is Japan :(

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Gov't urges 7-Eleven to take preventive measures after 7pay fraud See in context

From other sources I understand that as many as 900 accounts were used illicitly, which to me begs the question of how the IDs and passwords were disclosed. They may have been hacked, but they may have been sold by an inside source.

Other news sources are saying the password reset system could be used to send a password reset to an email of the hackers choosing, and the hacker could then perform the reset using (in many cases) using publicly accessible information such as date of birth.

Quite unbelievable that such a high profile company can mess up something simple like a password reset.

Side gripe: Also unbelievable that many Japanese companies don't allow users to include alphanumeric symbols (#$@* etc) in passwords. Cyber-security seems to be a joke in most Japanese companies. It wouldn't have prevented this hack it seems, but I'm sure many people get hacked every day because of it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo Olympic stadium 90% complete; opening set for December See in context

It looks unbelievable! This stadium will be a lasting legacy of what will be an amazing Olympics. I can already see the Japanese 4×100 relay team soaring around to the gold medal to the roar of 100,000 wild fans in the Stadium!

Nice dream, but...

Organizers say about 45,000 of the 60,000 permanent seats have been installed

Apparently temporary seating is only possible by putting seats on the running track, which would probably annoy the Japanese 4x100 relay team. It's also one of the most boring stadiums I can think of, modern or otherwise.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Whale of a time See in context

The sheer irony in this photo. Japan recognizes that there is money to be made from whale tourism but instead throws public money into killing them. Akin to cutting off their nose to spite their face...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Airports in Japan to introduce facial recognition for foreign visitors See in context

I registered for the automatic gate (15 min process) only to find that you still need to go to fill out a departure card & visit the officer at the window! What a complete waste of time...true automatic gates will be very welcome provided they can be used by residents and not just short term visitor departures. Knowing Japan though, I'm not hopeful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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