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Friday, March 6, 2015

Coca-Cola And Japan's Vending Machine Obsession

Japan has this, deservedly so, reputation for extremes with regard to vending machines—you know, drop in some change to purchase your product of choice.

Living in Toronto, the vending machines we have had here revolve(d) around cigarettes, condoms or tampons, chocolates and chips (potato, et al) and beverages, including hot coffee and cold sodas, and I suppose newspapers, though that one is more on the honor system. And gumboils, of course!

I'm not even going to mention tokens or passes for city transport, except that I just did.

Pretty much standard fare, when it comes to vending machines.

But in Japan… I was able to purchase a nice bottle of Spanish red wine, ice cream, hot canned coffee, cold soda, sake; and chose not to purchase: bags of rice; pornographic magazines; comic book magazines (manga); flower bouquets; shirts, ties, shoes, new underwear, and rather in famously in the distant past, used women's underwear for those who like that sort of stuff.

There were also vending machines for batteries, disposable cameras (very handy when out and you realize you've forgotten your bulk non-digital camera) - this was in the days before digital and before the shrinking of powerful smart and cellphones.

The one thing I never saw in Japan was a vending machine offering chocolate bars or chips… the lifeblood of the vending industry in the west… I even owned and operated a small vending machine 11 years ago.

Well… almost… those pop machines are pretty damn visible in most public centers. One saved my life when I was lost in the rice fields of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken… probably saved my butt quite a few times while I was in Japan.

So… how did it all begin in Japan? Did they start the vending machine industry? Not even close. I know that vending machines have been around for well over 100 years… offering fresh, cold water in paper cups, for example… and to be honest, I'm sure there are earlier examples, but you can get that information yourself, because it doesn't relate (I am guessing) to Japan.

See? (I couldn't help myself:

According to Coca-Cola Journey: "the world’s first vending machine was invented in Ancient Egypt in 215 BCE."

"As the story goes, the vending machine sold holy water in a temple in Alexandria. Utilizing the principle of levers, the weight of a five-drachma coin would tilt a receptacle inside the machine and a tap would pour water until the receptacle returned to its original position. While the machine itself has not survived, Heron of Alexandria recorded its existence in his Pneumatika."

Apparently, the first patented vending machine was built to dispense postage stamps in 1857 by Brit, Simeon Denham.

Now… the first vending machine in Japan was a 1904 machine that dispensed stamps and postcards, and while popular for those who liked to write, vending machines were fairly restricted in what products were dispensed for many, may years.
Automatic Stamp and Postcard Vending Machine, replica. This vending machine is made in 1904. The oldest existing vending machine in Japan. Exhibit in the Communications Museum, Tokyo.

So… what spurred the orgasmic excitement of everything vendable is vended in Japan?


Oh why am I not on your payroll as an ambassador?!?! And so I come to you, with open arms….

Coca-Cola was and maybe is the quintessential product that defined America, that was easily accessible to the people of Japan after WWII.

At that time, Japan was a crushed mess, and was built up with American hands and money, before being subverted by the Japanese who gained control of their own destiny soon afterwards…

The thing is… the Japanese seem to have a lot of respect (after WWII) for their conquerors… and wanted to be like them (but not exactly), and so were rife for the pickings, if you will, for a taste of Americana like Coca-Cola's Coke.

I often wonder why I like Coke, as opposed to Pepsi? Was it just because one was available at the kiosk in the subway I passed every day after school? Or, was it the red and white colors were the same as the flag of my then NEW adopted country (Canada)?

First… according to recent data released by the Coca-Cola Journey team (see… that whole come to you with open arms thing is a line by the rock(?) group Journey. I thought it was witty), there are over 3.8 million vending machines in Japan.

Those 3.8-million vending machines in Japan are responsible for some ¥5-billion (~US $40-million) in sales annually.

Of that, there are 2.2 million that just vend soft drinks, which accounts for about ¥1.9-billion (~$16-million).

There are, in fact, approximately 980,000 Coca-Cola (brand) vending machines in Japan.

The very first Coca-Cola vending machine in Japan began operation in 1962—it was the first domestically manufactured bottle soft drink machine.

Beverage cooling vending machines for Coca-Cola were manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (三菱重工業株式会社 Mitsubishi Jūkōgyō Kabushiki-kaisha) on behalf of Vendo (now Sanden Vendo America) in 1962.

By the way, Mitsubishi was responsible for a lot of the builds for the Japanese Imperial Navy during WWII, including the Zero airplane. But the war is over, and Japanese businesses need to work.

At this time, it was for bottles. but Vendo was one the first to introduce vending machines for cold cans in the late 1960s, allowing vendors like Coca-Cola to fit twice as many cans as bottles into the machine of the same size.

For Japan, in 1962, the vending machines—the V-63 and the V-144—were delivered to Tokyo Coca-Cola, with a total of 880 eventually making it across the country by the end of the year. That's them in the photo below.

The Vendo machines were initially rentals, paid for by Coca-Cola on a monthly scheme. Then as now, Coca-Cola replenishes the vending machines as required.

Basically, these Coca-Cola soft drink vending machines began the whole vending machine development and marketing in Japan, though they can not be blamed for the product choices of other entrepreneurs who stuff them with highly desirable, but less ethically savory items such as used panties.

Weird obsessions aside (I suppose I have mine, as well) (I collect. What? Collect. Hopefully my gathering of acorns will pay off one day for someone other than myself.), did you know that as of 2003, Coca-Cola has made some vending machines worldwide known as the Disaster-Relief Vending Machine. As of December 2011, there are 6,000

No, you don't need to search for a tsunami-soaked bill to insert, rather a remote-access communications network will kick in and allow these vending machines to provide free-of-charge beverages during times of emergency.

As of December 2011, there are 6,000 of these Disaster-Relief vending machines around the world, which is kind of sad, because it implies that everyone else has figured out that this is a high-risk area. 

These machines are installed mostly in school gymnasiums, hospitals and other sites that would be used for evacuation purposes.

(Remember... you can never evacuate a person... that would kill them. You can evacuate an area with people, just not evacuate people from an area.)

During the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan (the so-called Great East Japan Earthquake), a large number of soft-drinks were made available for free.

I wonder how many of you ever thought about the fact that these vending machines have to be plugged in 24/7/365 days a year... which means they, and their cooling pumps, electronics and sometimes flashing lights and plain old lighting chew up a constant amount of energy... wasteful, even?

I sure as hell didn't think that. Not ever. I'm always glad I can find a machine selling what I want when I want it.

Still, some of you adorable treehuggers are thinking this way, and so, apparently is Coca-Cola.

The Ecoru/Solar Vending Machine consumes zero grid-energy for nighttime illumination.
Vending machine energy consumption has dropped 70 per cent in the past 20 years. The Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association began to develop a number of energy-saving measures. Between 1991-2012, they successfully reduced the annual electricity consumption per canned and bottled beverage vending machines by more than 70 percent. An example is the Ecoru/Solar Vending Machine pictured above, and the Peak Shift Vending Machine below.

A “Peak Shift Vending Machine” provides substantial reductions in electricity consumption.
The Peak Shift Vending Machine actually consumes half the electricity of an electric fan... though odds are you aren't running every second of the day - even in the cold dead of winter.

Regardless, this vending machine is cool. Yes... during the day when it is warmest, a vending machine will have to work harder to maintain a cool temperature for the beverages.  But not this one.

In Japan, with peak electrical usage down in the evening and night, this bad boy utilizes excessive cooling at night time (electricity is in excess, and is thus cheaper), via super thermal insulation in the vending machine's interior.

This vending machine provides a chilled beverage for a 12-hour period without having to draw an electricity for cooling. In fact, while the electricity used is at night, the overall energy consumption is a mere 5% of 'regular' vending machines. That's your half a fan in action, but it does make me a fan. Cool.

Let's leave it here for now...

And, for the record, I am drinking a Coca-Cola can of Coke as I write this - plucked from my work vending machine at lunch. I wish they would stock it with Coke Zero, as an option, however.

What's funny is that I was in the hankering for a Coke, and then came upon the topic.

Andrew Joseph

How I Spent Thursday Evening

I'm not going to talk about work, but we all know that work is work - the necessary evil.

So... despite spending a mere 55 minutes on the highway getting home, which in Toronto ain't bad for a mere 30-kilometer trip starting at 4PM when traffic isn't at its heaviest... I was glad to get home.

As I walk in, everyone wants to show me the basement, with my wife exclaiming "thank goodness the cat's alive."

All I know is that I don't want to see the basement, and I want to go back to work.

Anyhow... the basement is a mess... the three bookcases holding a large swathe of books (surprise!), comic books in hardcover format or oversized-formats, my Big Little Book collection, art books, and my JUST organized sports card collection, including BOXES of unopened wax packs from the 1980s and early 1990s... they are spread out all over the floor, as the bookcases have come away from the wall and spilled forward.

Tens of thousands of dollars of stuff is tsunamied over my floor.

Apparently my neighbor is having is house redone, and the guys doing the work had some heavy equipment that shook the hell out of my house, causing the bookcases to shed they wall anchors and come tumbling down.

I couldn't bear to take a photo of it while it was down... I didn't want to delay too long in case things became further damaged from ... ugh... bending.

Just a few of the larger books and sheet music now stored beside the washing machine - yeah, I used to tech piano and clarinet. At least the Cerebus portfolio was still sealed and unharmed. I wonder if that is worth anything? You can see some of the damaged book bindings down at the bottom of the pile. The box on the left that says "Cat" is not the cat everyone was concerned about.
Many of the large books I had had covers ripped away as they spilled out. One set of 1894 encyclopedias on Famous Men & Women had four covers taken out...

Of the comic books - no damage. The sportscards... I had several of my previously unopened boxes now open with individual packs spread around, but no real damage except to some future buyer, I suppose.

I spent the next two hours cleaning up, and finding room for things until I can figure out how to better anchor the cases...

The table actually help stop the shelves from taking out the trainset table not seen on the right, which would have been horrible seeing as how it is holding multiple Japan-relates LEGO dioramas I have built and shown here in this blog. The white book case was a separate section that sat upon the case on the right - you can see where it was anchored... An d yes, I am propping up the book cases with books...  See... the cat's okay.
The photo at the top: You can see a few of the binders of sportscards and a binder or two of coins sitting atop our small freezer -  probably means leftovers tomorrow night, too.

My ill luck continued, later as my hockey team lost and I had leftover tuna casserold for dinner. Yeah, I spelled it correctly.

As well, in order to pick up everything, including a lot of pottery shards from stuff from India and China (the Japanese items all survived, miraculously), I had to spend a lot of time on my hands and knees, which enflames my poor torn meniscus in my knee...

At least the cat survived, and all the other non-book things. Sigh.

And I still have to go into work on Friday.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blogging State Of The Union

Did you know that I've been writing a daily whatchamacallit for this blog since January 28, 2011 - and I mean every single day?

I know,  I should get a life, but this blog is pretty much it as far as excitement goes, so I get to perform verbal masturbation as my express form of release.

Bragging, I suppose...

I know this blog had been going on since July of 2009, but I wasn't publishing everyday.

Just prior to that January 28, 2011 date, I had actually stepped away from the blog for several weeks... but that was the push I needed.

That breather (take a deep breath) was what I needed, and when I decided to come back (I wasn't sure when I stopped that I was coming back), it was with a renewed energy.

I didn't care who read the blog or how many people read the blog, but just wrote because I enjoyed writing.

I had always said that as long as even one person wanted to read my stuff, then at the very least I would write for that one person. I still feel that way, though my ego does thank its lucky stars that there are still a few more than just one reader who will read either my rambling thoughts on relationships with and in Japan, as well as my researched encyclopedic scratchings on historical subjects, and sometimes even just my bon mots on whatever hits my fragile eggshell mind.

It's on these rare occasions when I feel the need to deliver a state-of-the-union address, just to sort of say thank-you to you, the reader.

I love the critiques of my thought processes and the urgings to complete my diary (truthfully, if I presented it any quicker, I would have been done with it sometime in 2011 or 2012, and then how bored would you all be).

I think I've become a better writer... even a different writer since I began this blog... it was really only supposed to be 90 articles as a means of showcasing the original "It's A Wonderful Rife" articles I had written between 1990-1993 - and then that was going to be it...

Then I had to write the introduction to the blog... which I still think is one of the better things I ever wrote... only because it made me step outside of the familiar and look inside myself.

"I didn't want to go to Japan. To be perfectly frank, I was just trying to get laid."

That summed up my whole feelings about my upcoming trip to Japan. yeah, I wanted to get sex, but I wasn't thinking about Japan as an ends to that dry means.

Who writes a 2,652 (including this) chapter story about Japan when they had no real interest in even going there? Me... and that me is someone who arrived in Japan with next to zero knowledge of the country—thank goodness, because I didn't allow anyone or anything to color my experience.

It's why I am always intrigued by readers who are looking at blogs to get a better idea of what to expect in Japan... my advice remains the same - stop reading, and just go and experience it for yourself.

I swear, I lose more readers that way, but I mean it. I'd rather lose readers than spoil your very individualistic experience involving Japan.

Yeah... Japan is weird and wonderful, confounding and exhilarating, sexy and ugly... but I bet we could say that about whatever country WE are in right now... the problem is that we haven't had the opportunity to adequately experience it yet, what with work, school or parental requirements getting in the way.

Look at me (please)... I live in Canada... the second-largest country in the world... and I can assure you that I know very little about my adopted home because it is vast and different.

I have driven across from Toronto to Vancouver... and have been out to the Atlantic through the Maritimes... I've met lots of people, and while all different, are the same... but there is no way in hell I could ever get a handle on what it is like to be a First Nations Canadian (even though I went fishing with a Mohawk chief), or an Inuit (do not call them Eskimo) community just because I own several sculpturs, including a whale baleen one, or think I understand a westerner, from a Quebecer, to a Metis, to an Acadian, to a Newfoundlander or Nova Scotian or an Edmontonian relative to a Calgarian.

It's impossible.

It's the same thing in Japan as a foreigner/gaijin. You and I can observe, participate in, and even live within, but we'll never completely understand what it is to be Japanese without actually being Japanese... and I include foreigners born in Japan and who have lived their their entire life.

You're never fully a part of the community.

I had deceived myself numerous times while in Japan, to feel like I was part of this community or that community simply because I was treated so well by the entire city of Ohtawara in Tochigi-ken.

While I do believe that was a bit of a small community looking after one of its guests... you'll note that I didn't say that they were simply looking after one of their own.

And that's okay. I'm good with being a guest. I'm good with being a part-time cog in the community.

Do I miss Japan? Yes. It's probably why I write about it so damn much, but perhaps it's nostalgia talking.

Still, I can't think of one instance while I was in Japan that I wanted to leave it - drunken, crying stupors aside (twice with women troubles).

Oh well... thanks again for reading,

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Fossil-Free Nuclear-Free Japan? Really?

From time to time, I get spam in my e-mail, and in the comments section of my blog - usually just sex-related stuff, which is fine, but no one really looks at spam mail.

So... what was cool, was when I got what I thought was spam, and it turned out to be a press-release from someone who thought I (and the blog) would be interested in something related to Japan.

Sort of.

Using the fourth-year anniversary of the Fukushima near-total armageddon of a nuclear mishap as a starting point, five groups are looking to point the U.S. into the direction of clean energy.

Yes, it's NOT Japanese, but really, they are trying to avoid such problems that occurred at Fukushima, from happening anywhere in the U.S.

Personally, I don't have anything against nuclear power generation when it is done correctly and safely. Canada's nuclear power generating nuclear plants utilize a different form of uranium in its reactors to generate the energy - one that does not produce plutonium (I think) for possible weapons manufacture.

Canada also seems to have a pretty clean nuclear power record relative to other nations, so they must be doing something right. But that's just my opinion.

The press release I received is an effort to better educate the public alternative energy solutions. 

By the way... most browsers look for all caps as a means to establishing unwanted spam.

Here it is:

As Fukushima Anniversary Nears, Interactive Video at Allows Visitors to Experience 3 Very Different Energy Futures, Get Involved in Groups' Pushes on Nuclear, Wind Power Initiatives.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - March 4, 2015 -- A week ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima reactor disaster, five leading organizations fighting for America's clean-energy future - Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club - are unveiling an interactive online video, "Our Epic Future: Create It With Clean Energy."
Available at, the entertaining, fact-filled video allows visitors to explore three scenarios in the "Epic Energy Labs" with very different future outcomes: one dominated by fossil fuels, another in which nuclear power is the focus, and a third relying on renewable energy.
After viewing the video, visitors can get involved in clean energy campaigns of the five groups, including urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to put in place post-Fukushima safety measures at U.S. reactors and petitioning Congress to reinstate the Production Tax Credit support for the wind energy.
The Make Nuclear History Web site explains: "There is a better way. There is a way to power our lives without fossil fuels. There is a solution to climate change without nuclear energy. There is a future where we can solve the climate crisis and power our lives from 100 percent renewable sources and energy efficiency. Now is the time to create our fossil and nuclear-free future ... A fossil and nuclear-free future powered by renewable sources is possible and the transition is happening now. The benefits of clean, affordable and renewable energy compared with the dirty, expensive legacy of fossil fuels and nuclear reactors are obvious."
"The Fukushima disaster shows us exactly why we cannot and should not try to rely on nuclear energy to solve the climate crisis," said Tim Judson, Executive Director of NIRS. "Japan's decision to invest in nuclear rather than renewables left the country totally unprepared when calamity struck. Clean, renewable energy sources are abundant, affordable, and ready to go. They can replace nuclear and fossil fuels, which are two sides of the dirty, extreme energy coin."
"We no longer need to be shackled to dirty and dangerous energy," said Robert Weissman, Executive Director of Public Citizen, "A sustainable energy economy is not only possible but necessary if we are to avoid irreversible climate disruption and safeguard our communities against radioactive contamination."
"While the nuclear industry continues to grasp at straws for relevance, it is more apparent than ever that the clean energy revolution has taken hold in communities across the country," said Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard. "The Fukushima disaster is a constant reminder that nuclear energy is a dirty and dangerous distraction from real solutions like wind and solar. We should commit to rejecting costly nuclear pipe dreams and supporting the renewable efforts that can help avert our climate crisis."
"Choosing between clean energy and dangerous fuels like coal and nuclear isn't difficult. Nuclear has proven time and time again to be too expensive, too slow to build, and far too dangerous. Meanwhile, burning fossil fuels is making our families sick and making the climate crisis worse. That's a huge part of the reason our clean energy economy is growing by leaps and bounds, creating jobs while keeping pollution out of our air, our water, and our communities." - Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
"Fukushima was a global water shed moment illustrating the potential for catastrophic nuclear accidents to occur," said Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica. "This video contributes to a growing people's movement demanding a fossil free, nuclear free future."
Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand that the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy. Sometimes, this involves speaking uncomfortable truths to power and demanding more than people think is possible. It's hard work. But the pressures facing our planet and its people are too important for us to compromise.
Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
2014 marked the 36th anniversary of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. We were founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues.
Public Citizen serves as the people's voice in the nation's capital. Since our founding in 1971, we have delved into an array of areas, but our work on each issue shares an overarching goal: To ensure that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.
The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.
 MEDIA CONTACTS: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3254 or; Tim Judson, for Nuclear Information and Research Service, (301) 270-6477 or; Benjamin Schreiber, for Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0752 or; Allison Fisher, for Public Citizen, (202) 454-5176 or; Perry Wheeler, for Greenpeace, (202) 319-2461 or, and Trey Pollard, for the Sierra Club, (202) 495-3058 or

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image taken from:, showing a Tyrannosaurus Rex statue (?) at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Facility in Florida, USA. The image looks like it was done/taken by Gary Braasch. 

Coca-Cola Japan

Being a fan of Coca-Cola and all things Japan, I wondered just how is the business run…

I don't mean the backdoor shenanigans (and who doesn't enjoy that?), but rather, what is the basic structure of the company?

I'm not even begin to pretend I know this stuff, so I actually took it from the Japanese Coca-Cola website.

The Coca-Cola system in Japan comprises Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd., which supplies concentrates, plans and develops new products, and conducts advertising and marketing activities; bottling companies(bottlers), which manufacture and sell products, and other affiliated companies.

In the Coca-Cola system, Coca-Cola Japan and other members of the system promote their business-related initiatives based on strong partnerships. We seek further business growth by optimizing our overall operations, including more efficient production, a thorough consumer oriented approach, faster response to market preferences, enhanced customer services, and rigorous quality control.

What is interesting, to me, is the graphic immediately atop this... showing the eight Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Japan and what area of Japan each is able to supply.

And... if you are a Coca-Cola connoisseur as I am, you are aware that Coke's produced in different countries and even different regions can have slightly differing tastes.

I am aware that the recipe is always exactly the same when a particular product is being made, for example, the standard, but iconic Coke beverage.

I think it's the quality of water being used that provides a different taste in Coke produced in say, Las Vegas relative to Chicago and Toronto.

Three distinct tastes.

My tongue is very adept.

That whole Pepsi-Coca-Cola challenge back in the 1970s or whatever was a complete joke to me. Do you know who can't tell the difference between the two? Someone who isn't a regular drinker of either brand. It was ridiculous.

So... since water is appropriated from at least eight different sources for the production of Coca-Cola products in Japan, one could assume that there will be slight taste variances in the same product in differing locations.

The only time I know for sure that Coca-Cola changed its recipe (well, okay back at the turn of the last century when it took cocaine out as an ingredient...

According to "Coca-Cola was named back in 1885 for its two "medicinal" ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. Just how much cocaine was originally in the formulation is hard to determine, but the drink undeniably contained some cocaine in its early days."

Have a coke and a smile, indeed. 

But in my lifetime, Coca-Cola made a huge blunder when it publicly announced it was going to alter its formula back in the 1980s, with the introduction of New Coke, which would replace "classic" Coke.

The plan failed, and without any pomp, Coca-Cola brought back the classic Coke beverage recipe... except to anyone who was a fan of the pre-New-Coke classic Coke.... this was still a changed recipe.

It was no longer as gassy.

With the pre-change, when you drank it you could belch and nearly bun out the hairs from your nose... but not after new Coke bit the dust... it was weaker in belchability, and slightly different in taste...

It still irks me, but not to the point of complaining, just to the point of memory recall.

I also think that the flavor of all drinks was changed when it went from being filled in an aluminum can versus a tin can. You can taste the difference from a plastic bottle to an aluminum can nowadays, or a draft beer versus a canned beer versus a bottled beer. It's subtle, but it's there.

Anyhow... when I traveled from Toronto, Canada to Japan... that first Coke I had in Tokyo was completely different from what I was used... the same with a Coke in Thailand, Malaysia, Saipan, Korea and Cambodia... 

I'm not exactly sure what the 'Real Thing' is, but it is all basically the same.

Or it might be all in my head... like my tongue.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Japanese Joke - Sort Of

This is barely a Japanese-related joke, but what the hell, this was how it was sent to me, so this is how I'll present it:
Two good ol' boys in Alabama were sitting around talking one afternoon over a cold beer after getting off work at the local Nissan plant.

After a while the first guy says to the second: "If I was to sneak over to your house Saturday & make love to your wife while you was off huntin' and she got pregnant and had a baby, would that make us kin?"

The 2nd guy crooked his head sideways for a minute, scratched his head and squinted his eyes thinking real hard about the question. Finally, he says: "Well, I don't know about kin, but it would make us even!"
So... I decided to check the accuracy of the joke—never a good thing, but it is accurate that it would make them even. 

However, there is NO Nissan automotive plant in Alabama. There's one in Tennessee, and one in nearby Mississippi, but not in Alabama. 

Since the joke makes reference to a Japanese automobile manufacturer, let's just see what IS in Alabama: 

Honda is.

At Honda Manufacturing of Alabama LLC, located in Lincoln, Alabama, it produces the Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, and Acura MDX for North American sales. 

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet - uh... except this blog, of course.

Andrew Joseph

Pillow Talk For Otaku

Over at the always entertaining Rocket News 24, there's a story there about a pillow—manga-related—that talks and moans depending on how you touch it.

It even gets angry if you grab her too roughly.

Known as the Ita-Supo and developed by Uchimura Koichi (surname first) who was a researcher over at Kyushu Institute of Technology, it quite naturally (for all the pervs out there) features some sexy female manga-like character.

It is supposed to be a pillow that supports "people's otaku life". Otaku (おたく/オタク) is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom.

You can read the full story HERE.

Despite having an Otaku life, and being a bit of a per myself, all I can say is to quote the iconic William Shatner on a Saturday Night Live sketch regarding the obsessive nature of Star Trek fans: "People… get a life."

Surely not every manga or anime nerd is a social outcast! Not in this, the 21st century when anime and manga and comic books and animated flicks and even live-action movies featured such characters are the Hollywood force, driving excessively popular franchises such as Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and more!

Nerds and geeks need not consider themselves losers!

Purchasing such a pillow, the Ita-Supo, is just plain sad and you are all setting back the geek-shall-inheirit-the-Earth plan for world domination back decades.

As a kid, I was criticized for purchasing comic books and watching animated cartoons as a teenager, and young adult.

And while I was indeed a virgin longer than I had ever wanted to be, I had always liked REAL women. Real women.

On the off-chance that you should get a date and bring her home, what the hell would she think when she sees your otaku porn-moaning pillow? That's right… loser.

Seriously, I've been lonely… have not had a woman glance in my general direction even if I was on fire (I think that's happened a few times), but dammit… buying this pillow and otaku pillows and products like this - this is not the way to get past the loneliness.

The way to get past such loneliness is to change the way you are or the way you are perceived.

That means getting out into the real world and exposing yourself (not that way) for all the world to see your good points and foibles.

Stroking a pillow to make it moan in pleasure might seem like fun, and it probably is for the first 47 minutes, but after that, then what?

You can have sex with your pillow, and then you have to clean it before it gets all crusty and disgusting.

If you have the money for that, save up a few more bucks and get yourself an escort, if you must. Get some real human to human contact!

Look… this is different from the whole Living Doll or blow-up doll sex toys, at least in my mind, though I wouldn't bother with them personally… this is a two-dimensional image with a recording that feeds a tiny ego.

You are better than that. Allow your ego to be better than a pillow-hugging buggerer (from flipping the pillow over, I assume).

You are a nerd and don't know how you'll ever get a real woman, then change the way you look, act or are perceived.

Go to a gym, read some books (real books) on how to be something better than an otaku.

The whole anime and manga thing should just be an enjoyable HOBBY, not a frisking lifestyle. A hobby.

I like cartoons and manga, and admit fully to being influenced by the black fishnet stockings worn by DC comic book heroes Black Canary and Zatana—I'd rather see a woman dressed in black medium-hole fishnets than completely naked just because it's sexy.

I also am quite aware that if a woman—a real woman—dresses up in black fishnets for me, the odds are pretty damn good I'm going to see her naked anyway.

I was shy, wore glasses and was a Dungeons and Dragons-playing nerd who loved Star Trek and lived in my parent's basement with my then 20,000 piece comic book collection (I have nearly double that now).

Maybe I'm luckier than you… I liked sports, and was also decent enough at them to not look completely out of place… but I also made up my mind to screw my shyness, to go to a gym, get contact lenses, grow my hair… read everything I could get my hands on about topics OTHER than manga and anime, while still maintaining my love of both…

Regular readers of this blog know I got more than my fair share of virginity-breaking escapades while in Japan, and (after hitting the gym when I got home) continued long after that.

Above all else, one needs to be able to talk… just not only about okaku-related things.

You might not believe it, but a good, working knowledge of Shakespeare, Alice In Wonderland and Marillion (Brit neo-progressive rock band) allowed me to meet and even kiss one of the sexiest creatures on the planet. And yeah, Marillion is relatively obscure, but we were both at the same concert 20 years before we met. 

And yet, I still maintain a knowledge of hockey and baseball history and stats, and know more about comic book history and exactly who is stronger—Superman versus The Hulk.

So you never know.

Guys, and I'll assume it's 99.9% guys, pillow talk aside, don't bother with crap like the Ita-Supo.

You're better than that.

Besides, who wants to be scolded by a pillow?

Andrew Joseph