Thursday, August 23, 2007

Japan's Pop Power

In the decades after World War II, Japan famously pulled off an economic miracle, turning itself into the world's second richest country by the 1980s.

The Japanese achieved that miracle by making quality products that you can hold in your hand or ride around in: electronics and cars.

Manufacturing is still big business in Japan, but it's not the future.

In the new century, Japan is betting that economic growth will come from another sector: What's been called Japan's Gross National Cool.

In the past decade, Japan's exports of games, toys, and pop culture have soared with no slowdown in sight.

For young people in the US and much of the world, Japan is a brand that stands not for the quality machines but for the best in entertainment and storytelling.

Increasingly the world economy is based less on selling physical objects and more on selling content: media images, games, and stories to while away our free time.
read more - American Radioworks

Thursday, August 16, 2007

hottest day on record

It's official.
TOKYO (AFP) - The temperature hit a record high in Japan on Thursday, with the extreme summer heat killing at least 13 people across the nation this week, officials said.

The mercury shot up to a record 40.9 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tajimi city in the central prefecture of Gifu on Thursday afternoon, according to the weather agency.

The reading eclipsed the previous highest temperature recorded in Japan of 40.8 degrees set in northern Yamagata prefecture in 1933. via Yahoo! news
So I spend half a day in front of the computer in this slightly A/C-cooled office. Students are mostly out for the Obon holidays. Besides going outside is no fun really. Dehydration kills.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Occupation 101

See clips on official website
For decades many Americans have been deceived about the Palestinian-Israeli issue that appears to be locked in a never-ending conflict. 'Occupation 101' is a film that exposes the root-cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Addition it explains the reality of the situation through the voices of the silent majority of Israeli, Jewish, Christian, and Americans that are silenced through the mainstream media. -taken from IMDb
download torrent for the complete documetary here. You owe it to yourself to learn a bit more about the truth.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it's the illusion of knowledge.
(written on movie's poster)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Trifid Nebula in Stars and Dust

Unspeakable beauty and unimaginable bedlam can be found together in the Trifid Nebula Also known as M20, this photogenic nebula is visible with good binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M20 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. Which bright young stars light up the blue reflection nebula is still being investigated. The light from M20 we see today left perhaps 3000 years ago, although the exact distance remains unknown. Light takes about 50 years to cross M20.

Credit & Copyright: R. Jay GaBany ( NASA

a light, inexpensive RWD Toyota coming soon?

Rumor has it Toyota is bringing back a sure-win sports car formula to its current boring lineup that doesn't spot a single one.

This time a magazine article puts a little bit more weight on the rumor. With this picture published:

Of course teenagers and a couple of older guys all over the world are screaming AE86. Indeed, light, rear wheel drive, sporty, coupe, very affordable, with good balance it'll sell like hot cakes. Fingers crossed and unlike most out there I hope they will stick to an NA engine.

What? A fun RWD sporty coupe with a good balance, precise control plus an easy price tag.

So what? That means car enthusiasts who aren't exactly well-off can still have a piece of the action.

And? Some kids will eventually introduce the front end of this car to numerous mountain pass guardrails, while others tune it to near-perfection and outrun a much more expensive factory Lotus.

When? End of 2009 but don't hold your breath for it.

A comeback of the comics-famed Trueno AE86? Sort of, the idea is similar but AE86 is a type of engine which production has been halted years ago, dead along with any decent driver's cars under the Toyota's emblem. It leaves me wondering how the new car's exhaust note would measure up.

Early specs:
price: 1,500,000 yen
length: 3959 mm
width: 1650 mm
height: 1350 mm
wheelbase: 2300 mm
engine: 2NZ-FE
exhaust: 1498 cc
horsepower (ps/rpm): 120/6500
torque: (kgm/rpm): 14.8/3800
transmission: 5MT
weight: 1000 kg

source: autoblog

Monday, August 06, 2007

unpopular opinion

If the Earth's lifespan up until now is compared to a 24-hour day, the entire human existence is merely the last two seconds.

A saying goes something like this- If everyone tells you to conform to the main stream, you're already on the right track. While I don't know how often this saying is correct, I've had a few unpopular opinions of my own. Among them is that global warming, man-made or otherwise, is beneficial overall.

With humans activities damaging our home planet, it's for the greater good if they'll eventually stop, or some drastic changes will take care of it. As a species we're short-sighted and selfish. As long as a temporary well-being can be maintained, we're willing to both actively and passively destroy the environment and lives in it, including ours. So who is to say that we don't deserve the consequences?

Being a little bit of a perfectionist, I'm prone to choose a darker solution. That doesn't mean we'll have to all go extinct, but it would take a significantly smaller population. The world is crowded as is. It's not equipped to accommodate these many. Humanitarian efforts hinder our progress as a whole. Feeding starving African children seems like a noble cause. But stamping the origins would help them sustain a self-efficient society. These would include but not exclusively involve:
  • fixing corrupt governments that take charity money and deliberately keep its citizens hungry,
  • deregulation-induced free trades,
  • plans that will inform parents, who have no means to feed their children, make educated decisions,
  • schools that provide basic skills as well as in financial survival.
It's no use crying over spilled milk.

However that's not to say the problem lies only at those areas. Developed countries, like the USA that consumes a large portion of the world's resources, should curb their appetite for consumption hence productions, despite where the actual assembly lines are at. With 20/20 hindsight, one can say a economy-wide voluntary effort is at best unlikely. The guys sitting in the throne, corporate or political, simply don't have the mental capacity to do the "right" thing.

OK, I'll help you take this leap of faith. Think of yourself as a gamer. You're playing a game of Simcity. In your created city there are poverty, rise of wars between nations and ideologies, lack of natural resources, major worldwide pollutions, corresponding climate changes, well, you think of the rest.

The surface is yet to be scratched. I for one would want to see the Planet doing what it does- regulates the elements to achieve equilibriums. Yeah I know I won't be there because I'll be long dead.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mt. Haruna

For the summer holiday (I took three days off being the boss), we visited Mt Haruna (榛名山) and its mystical mountaintop lake (榛名湖). It's located in the middle of Gunma prefecture (群馬県), and a well-known place for illegal downhill races (no longer tolerated) thanks to Initial D's fame. In the anime the name is mysteriously changed to Mt. Akina (秋名山).

So I took my Mazda Roadster for a moderate downhill run (by run, I mean stroll) with lots of precaution since it'd been raining pretty hard, and my wife feeling car sick.

Here are some pictures of the beautiful lake.

Ikaho onsen (伊香保温泉) at the foothill; foggy

morning; from the submit (榛名富士), a stratovolcano

The lake view from our room's balcony. The entire hotel is inches from the lake and all the rooms face the lake. We saw a large fish (near human size) swimming by in the early morning.