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Xeno23 comments

Posted in: U.S. military says restrictions are to respect Okinawan murder victim's family See in context

I don't know if people realize this, or not, but this weekend is the Memorial Day Holiday weekend in the USA, so it's a time of celebrating veterans, past and present, those who died and survived, and the armed forces in general. Typically there are parades, fireworks, BBQs, concerts, etc. It's kind of a big deal, especially for the military. A restriction will impart a notable pall on base personnel, I suspect. This wasn't noted in the article, as far as I could tell.

FYI, Memorial Day was originally on behalf of American Civil War veterans, and remembrance of those who perished in that war.

In my opinion, it should be an opportunity for us to remember, honor, and mourn all who perished in our collective tragic history of war - as well as those who've been tragic victims of the machinery of war.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Bowing is an important outward sign of contrition by Japanese company executives caught up in a scandal. But how sincere do you think the act of bowing is, as an apology? See in context

The act itself is absolutely sincere - the real question is: is the person doing it sincere about his/her performance of the act, contrition, reason for doing it? For the most part, given Japanese culture and mindset, when a Japanese person makes the observance, it is likely quite sincere.

Noting that sincerity itself is an all too commonly hyped-up and misunderstood thing: sincerity does not equal truth or honesty or integrity, it is simply emotional commitment to, and personal investment in a position - which can be completely momentary, and passing. People can be thoroughly sincere about one thing one moment, and just as sincere about another thing the next.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Do you think that constant use of abbreviations while texting messages or sending email is having an adverse effect on your spelling, grammar and punctuation? See in context

An effect on my grammar, etc.? No. That's because I distinguish between more formalized writing, e.g., work communications and reports, and writing which doesn't require that kind of structural precision. However, I am seeing it creep into the writing of my peers, friends, and associates, even in work place settings. Is this bad? Not necessarily. If the recipients understand what's being written, that's all that really matters: effective communication means getting the message across.

What I am seeing though, is an increase in instances of auto-fill errors, which spell-checkers don't catch, because they're not misspelled. On top of that, many don't review and edit their writing; they just hit send. Most of the time, it's not a big deal, because we skim and scan and interpret from context anyway, but sometimes it produces genuine WTF moments.

Language evolves - getting worked up over it won't stop it from happening. What I can't seem to pull off well anymore is penmanship; I'm increasingly useless at actual writing - too much typing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant in Germany See in context

What I wonder about is if there wasn't the current panic over AI or robots, would this have been reported as an industrial machine accident, or even widely reported at all?

A tragedy for the poor man involved, and everyone related to the incident - it's a terrible thing and an awful way to go, but factory accidents along complicated machine lines happen all the time, and probably a significant percentage of them occur on automated lines.

Like many have said, negligence, inadequate safety for contingency situations, and possibly bad programming and human error. A sad thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What behavior by waiters in restaurants annoys you the most? See in context

In my younger years I was a waiter, in family restaurants, mid-level fine dining places, and one very high end cottage French restaurant. There are three things I saw that irked customers the most: 1. Bothering them too much, 2. Not actually listening to them, and 3. Dealing with them cursorily, e.g., speaking too fast and running down the specials so quickly they don't have a chance to process them. A distant fourth is trying to be their "friend" - in many cases it's seen as invasive, but some people like it.

Of course, as evidenced by the comments here, there are a lot of other irksome things, but from what I experienced, the above mentioned garner the most annoyance, most frequently. And a lot of problems are variations of the same.

Poor service almost goes without saying: service is the job. I've seen plenty of wait staff who simply do not understand that. It's weird to me. I've also been a bartender - at restaurants, clubs, hotel bars, on contract for events like weddings, etc. The key skill for wait staff or bartenders is reading your customers - you must do that first, before anything else.

You have to treat customers like people - individuals. Customers visit your establishment to enjoy themselves - your job is to help them do that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: More Japanese gourmands bugging out on insects See in context

Strikes me as far less surprising in Japan, or Asia in general, than say, the USA, or the UK. When I was a tyke in Tokyo, in 1964-66, I could go to any of a number of Obasan / Ojiisan shops and buy candied grasshoppers or fried silk worms - packaged, 10 yen for a dozen, or something like that. Wasn't a big deal. I expect that's harder to find now, though.

You can easily buy bug-based nutrition and candy bars online now - also cricket flour; use like protein powder. If you ever see "Chapulines" on a Mexican restaurant menu, that's fried crickets. It's a reasonable bet that in the near future a lot more of us will be consuming bug protein.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: The gun control debate: Do you support the right of citizens to own and bear firearms? See in context

I'm surprised no one's mentioned this yet, but the 2013 gun violence report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, via the Center for Disease Control in the USA, commissioned by the Obama Administration after the Sandyhook tragedy, estimated that defensive civilian gun use in the USA, interrupting or preventing a criminal act, ranged from 300,000 to 500,000 plus instances annually, with top end estimates as high as one to three million. FBI studies offer similar figures.

Both sources note that the majority of these incidents do not result in fatality, and many do not result in significant injury, or reduced injury compared to other defensive measures. Both note that guns are an effective crime deterrent, however, the effects of civilian gun ownership and defensive use - as a factor in the increase or decrease of gun-related violence is an unresolved question.

The CDC report offers many other surprising discoveries, both supportive of, and contradictory to common arguments used by pro-gun and anti-gun advocates. The report is easily found by Internet search - as are FBI statistics. I encourage everyone making an argument for, or against, to read these sources. Remember though, this only applies to the USA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Which martial arts would you recommend to someone wanting to learn a means of self-defense? See in context

I've studied and practice Tae Kwan Do, Judo, and Aikido. Been in two violent, random street confrontations where fists, not weapons, were in play. In both cases I could not get away, but in both cases, because of my training, I did not feel in danger of great bodily harm - which is a huge plus, because you can think. This might be the single greatest advantage. It's likely any form of martial art, in which you've seriously trained, will grant this.

But here's something none of my instructors ever told me: because I was thinking while these events took place, I found I could not bring myself to inflict harm on my attackers. One was a drunk, the other was just an idiot - both were fit and strong. Judo and Aikido allowed me to outmaneuver them, and eventually the situations defused, but I knew if I clocked these guys, they would be seriously harmed - adults beating on one another leads to injury. This would be different if serious bodily harm was in the offing, of course.

Your brain is your best defensive weapon. Use it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Where should the line be drawn, if at all, between freedom of speech and libel, slander or defamation? See in context

Freedom means freedom. When it's imposed upon in any way, it's no longer freedom. There's no qualifier attached to freedom that people like what it provides. Freedom is often uncomfortable, difficult, and can have unforeseen consequences - that's not a reason to limit it.

That said, laws appropriate to bad consequences of that freedom are a completely reasonable response. Freedom of speech needn't be compromised, laws regarding what happens when it's exercised to ill effect need to be strengthened. You can say whatever you want, but you bear the responsibility of that too, and the rest of us should have the resolve to insure that responsibility is well accounted for.

Once we start picking and choosing what parts of Freedom we like, or don't like, we start down the slippery slope of anyone limiting freedom for anything for everybody. History has born this out time and again.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Do you think Twitter, YouTube and other social media should remove images of grisly murders, such as the execution of U.S. journalist James Foley or the 7-year-old boy holding a severed head in Syria, See in context

They should not feel, or be compelled to do so. If they want to, or their user base demands it, that's different. In general though, the more truth the better.

Truth is frequently not nice or pretty, and there's often an uncomfortable cost attached to it, but not acknowledging, or paying that cost is ultimately worse.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Name 3 of the best documentaries you have ever seen. See in context

"The Rape of Europa", "Trinity & Beyond", "Pandora's Promise".

If we're talking documentary series, then Ken Burns' "Prohibition", "In Search of the Trojan War" by Michael Wood, and "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" by Mark Cousins.

I've enjoyed the few episodes of "Project X: Challengers" I've caught, notably the episode on Seven Eleven. There are some good Japanese documentaries, but they don't get much attention.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What is the trickiest question to answer in a job interview? See in context

There used to be a canon of tricky questions asked in the high tech / computer industry that seemed absurd and unrelated to job or performance questions, and which became quite well known, like "Why are manhole covers round?". My favorite, which I once got asked was: "If you had unlimited resources, and unlimited time, how would you move Mt. Fuji?"

The canonical "answer" to this was: don't move the actual mountain, instead, change all the maps in the world. The problem with these questions was that soon enough, one could find all the "correct" answers on the internet, and if a candidate was prepared, could parrot them out on demand - not useful.

Personally, when interviewing, I didn't employ tricky questions - I thought it a waste of time. Instead, I'd ask one or two seemingly odd questions that still had relevance, for example, when interviewing for a technical testing position I often asked something like: how would you test a robot horse?

The trickiest questions result when you get an interviewer who doesn't really know how to conduct a focused interview for the specific position under consideration. After many years as an interview observer, the vast majority of interviewers have no idea what they're doing, waste a lot of time, and end up coming away without a valuable assessment of the candidate.

Bonus funny experience: I once had a young man show up for an interview in his wedding suit. It was the only suit he had, and he figured he needed to show up in a suit. Since it was a highly technical computer oriented position in Silicon Valley, if one showed up in a suit it was generally considered bad, but in this case, it was pretty funny.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Is a man giving up his seat to a woman on a train or bus an outdated form of respect? See in context

The question is whether it's an outdated form of respect, or not. The question is not is it good manners, or should you do it, or under what circumstances. The question isn't who's doing it, and who's not.

It's not even a question of courtesy; respect does not equal courtesy, nor vice versa.

Despite what one might choose to believe or practice, it IS an outdated form of respect. History of social psychology.

That has no bearing on whether, or not it's still practiced. Nor does it say anything about continuing the practice. It makes no comment on the nature of those who do, or do not engage. It is what it is.

As a courtesy, this practice certainly isn't outdated, particularly when the beneficiary is burdened, or somehow put out. Courtesy is never out of date.

But practicing this deference as an expression of respect alone without any further qualification, done simply because she's a woman, and nothing more - that's outdated.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: 2016 presidential race off to an early start See in context

We're all gonna get soooo burned out by this race; it'll be ridiculous. The wannabe candidates will flame out early and all we'll have left is a handful of monied mouths who'll soon run out of stuff to say, unless they turn to gasp policy issues.

Maybe as we get really bored, a couple of darkhorses will show up late in the game and make things interesting, which would be a good strategy, actually. If candidates are smart, they'll play a longer hand. And the culture war hand-waving? That's gonna be a circus.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think of lasik eye surgery? See in context

Get it when you're still young enough for any correction to last for a reasonable length of time.

Quite a number of my later middle-aged friends had it done, and it was great for a while, until their eyes started to naturally change. In a couple of cases this was only a year, or two, and then they had to wear glasses again. So, was it worth it?

My own optometrist, who's highly trained, and regionally known as a top specialist, told me not to do it. I'd need glasses in a year again anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: In our plugged-in culture, with all its devices, how often each week do you switch off, tune out or enjoy some time alone without any electronic distractions? See in context

I don't get why not being "plugged-in" is somehow better than being so - seems like an outdated notion to me. I'm never far from a device that's on and connected. Even when I'm sitting quietly reading, it's with an e-reader. I'm not particularly distracted by my devices, they serve my needs, I don't serve them. I can tune out quite nicely, and still have my smart phone in my pocket.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Thousands rally in Tokyo against nuclear power See in context

In any discussion on the future of power supply technology, making arguments based on existing infrastructure to oppose future infrastructure is not rational. Most existing infrastructure is old, and nowhere near the state of the art. Remember, this is technology we're talking about, anything older than six months is probably already obsolete. Basically, if you aren't up on the latest developments, you don't know what you're talking about.

This is true for projected renewable energy technologies just as much as it is for projected nuclear technologies. A lot of very reputable studies have been conducted in the past few years which project that 100% reliance on renewable sources is feasible. But also, Generation IV nuclear reactor technologies are so much safer, reliable, efficient and easier to maintain, it makes current reactors look like dinosaurs.

The real key to the issue is to NOT stop technology development for irrational reasons, so we have a choice in the future of power supply, and a capacity for meeting our needs. Yes, we should take steps to mitigate risks in our current infrastructure - that's entirely rational. And if it means shutting down aging reactors maybe that's the correct thing to do.

We also have to recognize there's a significant cost and bring-up gap when implementing a new technology, so in the mean time, something has to fill the gap, or we decide to just do without for a while. Or use an otherwise undesirable technology for a limited time. The range of solutions isn't the problem, our will to engage them, or our ignorance and irrationality in not engaging them is the problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan, U.S. differ on China in talks on 'gray zone' military threats See in context

Wait what? Given the overwhelming complaints about American hegemony and over-reaction in other areas seeing America take a more nuanced approach is bad? It's only just starting, vis military budget cutbacks, but if we're seeing the first steps toward an America that doesn't jump first and ask questions later, wouldn't this be a logical extension of that? Isn't that a good thing?

I have no illusions about America projecting its power; no naivete about the whys or wherefors - nor the hyperbole, the politics, the vested interests, the hypocrisy, etc. but isn't a less overweening America what everyone wants? Aren't American ultimatums and line-drawing things people hate?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: How come Japanese couples don't say "I love you" to each other as often as their Western counterparts? See in context

A large part of it has to be language. To say Japanese or Westerners love their partners any more, or less, is silly. People are people and love is love.

From what I know, there just isn't an equivalent word in Japanese for how Westerners use the word "love". Americans in particular like single syllable words they can load up with huge amounts of meaning, variable on inflection, that can also be casually delivered. This doesn't mean the sentiment is casual; it's just shorthand for a whole bunch of stuff.

It seems to me that suki, daisuki, or aishteiru aren't the same ready expressions as the Western "love", not because they aren't equally loaded, or don't mean love, but because casual delivery isn't comfortably accomplished. Of course, we can argue forever over whether or not, Japanese culture even allows for this kind of glib communication. For example, If it needed an expression, there would be one.

One of the primary reasons Westerners say "love you" so much is to quickly touch base; it's a ping. It's also an incremental acknowledgment and reinforcement, and that's not nothing. Even if it's second nature. But if that's not part of one's cultural imperatives, then so what?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Bridge and tunnels to be inspected every 5 years See in context

Five years, because that gives you four years, eleven months, and two weeks to do nothing. Or maybe it just takes that long for the two guys doing the work to start at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, and work their way down to the southernmost tip of Kyushu...

Safety manuals are great. I knew a coworker who labored diligently away on one for two years, and when it was finished, so much of it was obsolete, it was summarily canned. He had to start a new one.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: English education is an issue of critical importance for Japan in view of today's world situation. A simple and powerful initial step would be to raise university exam levels to the global standard. See in context

What the heck does that mean: "...today's world situation"? Is English suddenly more important today than it was yesterday? Or, I dunno, twenty years ago? Given today's world situation, wouldn't Chinese be a better focus?

The whole English education in Japan thing seems like a red herring, or a convenient hullabaloo to me. It's the same rallying or hollering points it's been for, what, thirty years, more? Has there been any substantial improvement?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan says it is puzzled by new China WWII national days See in context

Back when I was a computer engineering manager in Silicon Valley, and was collaborating with Japanese firms, whenever my counterparts said they were "puzzled" what it really meant was "we think that's wrong". No one in the Japanese government is puzzled by this. Like, they're sitting around, heads tilted, scratching their pates, and going "Hehhh?" Not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What's the difference between a good pizza and a great pizza? See in context

Any pizza after ten pm and half a dozen beers is great. Before that, with fewer beers, it's usually just good.

6 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Should Holocaust denial be a crime? See in context

Are we so afraid of an irrational minority that we have to enact laws to stifle them? Just so we'll feel safe in our grasp of a historical truth? Do we believe our knowledge can be hijacked, intellectually mugged, threatened to the point that we, ourselves, will abandon it?

Do we genuinely worry there won't be enough rational, correct, truthful voices, or available fact and evidence to effectively counter such crazy hollerings? Is the possibility the entire world won't remember so imminent and dangerous, we have to do something like this?

If the answer isn't "no" to any and all of the above; then there's a way bigger problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: The Japanese seem to be of the view that whatever they do will not be enough to satisfy the Koreans, so why bother? See in context

I went looking for the source article, and found a few references, but couldn't find if Mr. Cossa said anything further. The question is whether this is true, or not. If I were the PM of Japan, I'd sit down with the PM of S Korea and say: Look, let's work on resolving this. What, exactly would it take?

I fully expect there'd be no immediate answer, so I'd suggest a cooperative research committee designed to understand what a strong majority of S. Koreans AND Japanese would find satisfactory. It cannot be a committee comprising politicians or other civil leaders, it has to be composed of academics: sociologists, psychologists, economists, historians, etc.

There could be an advisory panel of civil leaders attached to the effort BUT, and this is really important: the proceedings have to be contained, and an objective study of the topic cannot be hijacked. After the initial study is complete, a program vetting its conclusions with the public would be engaged, and any necessary cycles of revision carried out.

Once a definitive course of action is found to be satisfactory, and mutually agreeable to all parties, the governments MUST lock it down as the official word henceforth. Both governments would have to say: here's the deal, now shut up, and let's get on with other business. One of the critical points everyone would have to agree on is that it's going to be painful, to some extent, for everyone - so toughen up, and get real.

The same could be done with China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Motley Crue to retire, plan 72 goodbye concerts See in context

I worked with their first record label, and was on the promotions team for their first LA show at The Whiskey A Go Go in 1981. Frankly, I'm amazed they've lasted so long. Most of us thought they were a soon-to-pass gimmick band. Still have a demo pressing of Too Fast For Love.

Gotta say, not really a fan, but that was a good show. I was always more a Black Flag, Dead Kennedys kind of guy. For a very short time, there was a crossover Punk-Metal approach to the Crue in LA, but that didn't last long.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: The government should urge companies to set goals for appointing women to managerial and executive positions. See in context

Noting that this is just a statement, and otherwise means nothing, artificially imposed goals are a kind of prejudice - well intended maybe, but ultimately counter productive. What the government should do is put teeth into equal opportunity laws, so that anyone who's qualified has a shot at a given job regardless of gender, race, creed, etc.

Fulfilling goals like this always ends up in such a weight of unsatisfactory situations that it exacerbates prejudices. Merit and qualification should be the only considerations. Add stiff penalties for violation of equal opportunity, and you have your solution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Kennedy weighs in on topic of wartime history See in context

Interesting. A lot can be read into these comments, but there's very little to gainsay or criticize, and they have an uplifting spin as well as a vague admonition. Perhaps an indicator that her behind-the-scenes people and handlers aren't idiots - which would be refreshing, no? How many face forward politicos can we say that about?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. workers, employers test 'unlimited vacation' See in context

This article says nothing about one of the primary reasons companies are considering this: vacation accrual is a $ compensation that must be carried on financial ledgers - it affects OpEx and P&L. By getting rid of this, an expense is mitigated, if not hidden. I worked for one large company that went this route, and they openly admitted this was one of the drivers.

After a year in place at the aforementioned company, in all the departments I had visibility into, the effect was that people took LESS vacation time, and were more stressed out about what it meant to go on vacation. With an accrued vacation balance, an employee had a bit of a stick, since the company couldn't gainsay that compensation in any way.

Laws in my locale still require vacation allowance, but with this new format the company has an improved bargaining position, and the employee has less leverage. This wasn't lost on any of the people I knew.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 60% of Chinese execs say they cannot work with Japanese firms See in context

People can say whatever they want when it makes no difference, but I suspect the number would change if there was a significant upside to their business. Business people are business people all over the world, so if something is good for business, the tune can change in no time.

How many of these poll respondents even have an opportunity for doing business with a Japanese concern? Those who don't shouldn't be included. Unless, of course, the point is to stir up a bit of noise - in which case, done.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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