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Patrick McCormick comments

Posted in: Lowest number of elementary and junior high school students ever as birthrate continue to decline See in context

Acetyldehyde, that is an encouraging trend. If it gets to 2.05 or 2.1, then you've stabilized the population trend.

There's many sides to this issue. There's a group going for more babies per woman. There's another group seeking to keep the birthrate low because there's "too many people" in Japan.

In all, the country needs a consensus on what it wants through the democratic process. Elect officials to all echelons of power that will promote one or the other.

The business community, too, must make hard choices. Creating a baby-positive environment is possible; one of the ways they can learn from Europe, or even the USA. Many of my bosses have been mothers, and if they think women are any less motivated at work because of children, boy are they in for a shock.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Protesters march against Tokyo Olympic stadium See in context

Regardless of the utility and the haggling over what "fits" in such a diverse and interesting city as Tokyo, one thing is for sure:

The original stadium designs didn't just LOOK like a bicycle helmet, it WAS. Redesign that ugly monstrosity to something worthwhile of an Alpha+ world city!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: China hits back at Abe over World War I analogy See in context

At this point I don't know and don't care which side has more historical merit to who owns those rocks in the straits. Point is this is not the behavior of the number 2 and number 3 economies. This is more like two spoiled children who are fighting each other, and the repeated WWI/WWII, Imperial era, etc. references obviously trying to make their case to international bodies is like those said children crying to dear Mum asking "who's right" and "he started it!"

What should happen is the Mum should ground both of them until they make honest apologies and stop bickering. In international terms, European and American trade embargoes against both Chinese and Japanese goods would be a nice start. Real wars have started in such a childish manner, and it's about time the mature powers of the world teach both these idiot nations a lesson.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Gov't eyes 20 mil foreign tourists a year by 2020 See in context

How about asking actual non-Japanese tourists what they think instead of asking a bunch of middle manager ojii-santachi who don't speak a lick of English and never ventured outside the country rarely, if ever?

Classic Japanese mentality: "Let's see what we can do to improve our standing with foreigners!" Then they gather in a room with zero foreigners there and come up with an action plan.

Personally I think the country has so much to offer already they could easily hit that number if they advertised other destinations. Many tourists never venture outside Tokyo or Kyoto, with an occassional jog over to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. While definitely the biggest and most impressive tourist draws, those cities aren't the end all and be all of what Japan has to offer. How about tropical adventures in Okinawa and experience the unique local culture? How about hanging out with the Ainu people in Hokkaido and then jump over to Sapporo for some partying or Hakodate and see some history?

Another idea is to give training to and cheat sheets to business owners with some handy English phrases, and vice versa a free English (and other languages)<-> Japanese phrase booklet to all visitors, complete with Romaji spelling? To be sure, the efforts at making schoolkids more English conversant will fail miserably for no reason other than lack of actual comprehension of language rather than rote memorization of phrases and of course lack of chances to practice, not to mention most people who own business and cater to foreigners are adults and rarely remember their English language skills. So the logical conclusion is that phrasebooks and (by then) more advanced translation software.

Free wifi around cities, too, so foreigners can use their software on their phones would be helpful too. I'm astounded about the lack of free wifi in Japan. In America, everyone from Starbucks to little mom and pop shops give free wifi. I connected at my DMV the other day and browsed the news.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: China slams Japan defense spending plan See in context

Pot, meet kettle.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: School textbooks to be revised to reflect gov't view on history See in context

Haven't you heard of the phrase "history is written by the victors?" Japan came out "victorious" in WWII by virtue of the USA bailing them out, investing in them, teaching them modern ways, and effectively becoming their sword and shield for over 40 years.

Abe knows he has to change the culture of Japan to reinvigorate the economy. He's also correct in that many vested interests (the corporations) are loathe to change. However, these steps by his cabinet are misplaced. Rewriting history to leave out the unscrupulous bits won't help. Look at Germany. They squarely confront their sordid history and learned from it. The last thing Japan needs is a military-industrial complex.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: U.S. lawmaker urges steps to open up Japan's markets See in context

At least not so many people argue that American cars are inferior quality anymore. Hearing those people makes it sound like they haven't driven a Ford since the 90s or earlier. My dad still owns a 03 Focus and its the most reliable car he has ever owned, period. I have a Fusion and it beat out all the Japanese manufacturers' cars ... The Camry felt like the interior was made from tracing paper, was drab, and generally depressing. The point is American car manufacturers have largely learned their lesson and could compete in the market I think if the playing field were fair, kei cars included (Ford in Europe makes tiny cars).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Physicists unveil results helping explain universe See in context

The Standard Model is just one part of the larger scale of particle physics. Even though we've discovered the Higgs particle, we are only beginning to understand how they cluster and form the Higgs Field, which is akin to a snow field in Siberia with rolling hills, and various particles skim over it (light, radio, etc other massless or nearly massless particles), some sink into it (various mesons and big particles). Think of it like this: we now know how the snow field looks, now we're figuring out how things move through it. Just like how we learned how to fly 100 years ago, we're now just barely figuring out how to go faster than Mach 5 sustainably in the atmosphere and we're still learning how things move in the atmosphere, even though we have great macro-level approximations. Just like with how air particles move and bump across wings, figuring out how the Higgs field interacts with the rest of particle physics will take decades of research. Applications will likely be figuring out the next stage of material physics and creating new materials to power transistors, computers, and probably allow us to figure out propulsion techniques, and maybe explain why "weird things" as Einstein called them (quantum physics) works, and perhaps link the gravitational force with the rest of physics (the missing link between Newtonian physics, relativity ... F=ma and E=mc^2 ... and the quantum level).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Why you shouldn’t learn Japanese See in context

There's a few things about this article that rubs the wrong way to me: 1) That there really is no means of expanding your horizons in Japan by learning Japanese. False in a few circumstances. If you're a history buff (like me) or have family who are Japanese (like me) then all the more reason to learn the language. I can't count how many times I've gone to a museum or location and the English only covered half, if that, the content the Japanese covered. The Edo-Tokyo museum has a great exhibit in the early history of Edo, but try to see all the history in English only. It's pathetic. Learning the language will open new windows to understanding it. And as far as the family is concerned, they have little time to learn English, so it is a hobby of mine that leads to understanding with family.

2) The premise that you shouldn't learn Japanese if you're only a tourist could be extrapolated to say if you are a tourist anywhere you never have to learn the language. Not quite. Yes there's signage, and helpful things IN TOKYO but venture outside of that bubble and things go downhill very quickly. I couldn't imagine being able to go to Shirakawa-go and not know a word of Japanese. Again, learning the language opens up new windows that if you want more than pre-canned phrases and easy-to-digest facts.

3) And all those years of English language instruction haven't really given the native Japanese the ability to communicate whatsoever.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: With no cash for Windows upgrades, local gov't to disconnect some PCs from Net and tape up ethernet ports See in context

The reason why Microsoft keeps upgrading its software is because the rest of the digital world has moved on and consumers want change, vociferous and grumpy conservative "don't fix it if it is not broken" types say. MS learned early they must continue to innovate and change their design lest they be left behind.

I find it amusing that Japan, the pioneer in efficient manufacturing and lean processes were caught totally off-guard when the digital revolution came about. I think the boom of the 70s and 80s could have been extended had they competed with software. Instead, they got stodgy, and only upgraded when absolutely necessary. High-cost, high-overhead, multiple redundant processes and frankly 70s-era workplaces have made Japan, Inc. the laughingstock of the industrialized world, some big names notwithstanding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gunmen open fire at New Orleans Mother’s Day parade; 19 wounded See in context

Sounds like either drunken stupidity or gang related. Either is possible in N'arleans. I won't comment on the gun matter: the reality is, American gun culture is long and deep and wouldn't go away even if all guns and ammo were made illegal and wouldn't stop this from happening again.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Can Tokyo be transformed into a 24-hour city? See in context

I, too, would worry that pushing for a 24-hour mass transit system would force more unpaid overtime. I remember walking through Shinagawa station at 11:00PM and seeing it packed with salarymen going home from work. A salaryman friend of mine who had gotten out "early" at 9PM remarked it's always like this and he finds it "disgusting" that people are forced to work so late. I'm sure a good portion of those who are going home at those times are doing so because it's the last trains home. In all reality this would only benefit the tourists and the company owners who could in essence force their workers to stay 24 hours or more. I've only had to work that hard a few times in my life when a new product was in testing and schedule was tight. It shouldn't be that way all the time. I have to ask "why?" when someone says Tokyo should become a 24 hour city. NYC and American freewheeling culture are what make it possible. Japan doesn't have that, nor should it push for that just to rise up a few notches on some tourism board's list of "alpha" cities or some rubbish like that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: What do you think of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call to companies to raise their employees' wages this spring in order to help stimulate the economy? See in context

I have a bold idea - actually allow employees to use their vacation time, and stop the ridiculous tradition of working overtime even with nothing to do.

By giving the employees more free time, they will be searching for ways to spend their time, and with prices the way they are, they'll want to spend more of it. Time is money.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan scrambles jets against Chinese military planes See in context

What Japan should do is buzz some Chinese ships with F-15s on full afterburn going supersonic at low altitude. THAT should get the "DON'T F- WITH US" point across quite nicely.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: LDP's Abe pledges to revitalize Japan, strengthen military See in context

Personally, being a non-Japanese resident but still connected by way of relatives ... I cannot see how folks will think Abe would be any different from Noda. This is old fashioned politicking to your opponents' weakness and blunders. Though the electorate in any given nation isn't very bright ... so I don't expect them to vote intelligently. At any rate, I am curious to know how any politician is able to "inspire" normal Japanese to spend more to get the country out of stagnation.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Man turns himself in for murder of wife one week after they married See in context

He shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. And his disregard for human life has proven itself too much. He should spend the rest of his life in bars because obviously he thinks human life below the struggles of it. "In good times and in bad..." is the vow I took when I got married. I would never dream of killing my wife because a) I love my wife and life in general and b) it's just not right. I met an unemployed, married, homeless couple with a kid once. Yes life was hard. Dang hard. But they loved each other, and were as responsible as could be. The guy eventually worked for a charity for an honest wage and the wife became a tutor in English (she was Venezuelan). Love should pull you through, and it's obvious someone willing to steep to such lows is unable to grasp basic concept as sanctity of life and thus should not be allowed to operate in society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: How Asia sees Obama's pivot to the Pacific See in context

Asia in general operates a bit differently than Europe does when it comes to allegiances. Whereas in Europe, the threat of a "godless, state is supreme, socialist" state like the Soviet Union led to more one-sided allegiances, Asia is much more a "balance-oriented" approach. None of the nations have experienced brutalism the same way as Poland, the Czech/Slovak, etc. areas experienced under Soviet rule. As such, none of the states are willing to join a one-sided US-centered allegiance. Instead they're more interested in a "balance" of power between the US and China. They don't want to anger either side too much for fear of retribution from powerful militaries and trade blocs. A very different dynamic, and one China has been practicing for thousands of years. The US will have to get smart fast about this new dynamic lest it find itself isolated in Asia to a few historical allies (Korea and Japan).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Ichiro finds comfort in new role with Yankees See in context

I hope he can FINALLY get a ring. The dude deserves at least one.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese firms look at other countries as alternatives to China See in context

China's leaders should take note. You can score points short term by being foreigner-bashing. US presidential hopefuls and politicos do it every four years, two if you're in Congress. But you shouldn't expect such idiotic frenzy-whipping over long periods of time will do any good. China's been on the receiving end for the better of "globalization" for the better part of a decade and a half... but companies can just as easily move elsewhere. You can only steal intellectual property, throw up unreasonable trade barriers, have highly slanted business fields, and obviously bash foreigners for so long before your "partners" will get tired of you.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: ANA reports 40,000 reservations canceled on its China routes See in context

Well I have to give the east asians credit where credit is due... election year politics over there are much more interesting than that in the States.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Message for Japan See in context

Give it a year. This'll be old news. This is all posturing and the Chinese version of politicians and/or the army / security forces to get more power during the next regime change. This sort of thing happens all the time. Here in the States, every election year you hear politicians bashing China for insert issue du jour (outsourcing, currency "manipulation", etc etc etc). No one side really wants war (bad for business = bad for $) and is just using the population for the politicians' desires.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: NHK last week had a story on the growing addiction to social media by teenagers, focusing on some boys and girls aged 15-17 who spend more than 7 hours a day online, ignoring school and their parents' See in context

If my kids ever start spending too much time in front of the TV, video games, social networking, or whatever is around in 10-15 years instead of doing their homework, I'll do what my parents did:

Disconnect the dang things, tell them to finish their homework, show it as proof when done, and then look at the next chapters to get a leg up.

I don't think that's unreasonable. It's not as if I'm a "tiger" parent by forcing them to do 12 hours of schooling + extracurriculars + other mentally challenging things.

12 ( +12 / -1 )

Posted in: Nationalism stokes island disputes around Asia See in context

And arms sales to many of these nations who are now being faced with a more assertive China are going up. The US has a very difficult position of not wanting to isolate any of its allies and commercial interests nor isolate its biggest trading partner and owner of the most reserves of its cash (besides the Fed). What should happen in a logical world is maintaining the exclusive economic zone of sovereign nations under internationally agreed-to boundaries and for islands that are in international waters to have a joint economic development company set up and profits of any resource extraction split among the participants on an investment share basis while not allowing more than say 33% go to any one party.

Of course this is logical. And of course that means it'll never work. Let the gunboat diplomacy begin! 1800s and early 1900s all over again ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Danish variety store Tiger in Osaka can’t keep up with shoppers See in context

“But it looks like such a small, unassuming country…” haha! I can't believe there are still Western-centric fools who think that Japan is a "small country," despite it having 120 million people, or 25 times the population of Denmark, 40 million more than Germany, twice the population of France, twice the population of Great Britain, etc.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: New hirees quitting in droves See in context

I wonder how much longer it will be before there's facial tissues in interviewers' and academic advisors' offices in Japan. That's already endemic here in the States. Children grow up believing it is OK to be 10th place and get rewarded for even nominal effort. And when such nominal effort doesn't cut it, they can't understand why and break down. Then the overprotective parents come into the office to DEMAND to know why THEIR LITTLE POONUM could be rejected. sigh Grow a spine. Gotta pay your dues. I've spent 10 years at my company and I'm finally in a position to dictate research direction and ideas. And you know what? I'm damn glad my company didn't let me climb higher, faster, because I wouldn't have been able to handle it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Roman jewelry found in ancient tomb near Kyoto See in context

I find it funny that history classes have taught us that ancient empires were insular - that somehow the Romans believed the end of the world at their borders and whatnot. Rubbish. Don't forget that trade existed for millennia. If direct trade didn't occur most likely it exchanged hands numerous times. The British learned porcelain making from the Chinese indirectly, by way of the Muslims, who controlled trade through the middle ages in much of the Mediterranean. So it would not be surprising if this found its way into the hands of a wealthy merchant or nobility after exchanging it for silk, or perhaps other wares.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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