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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Human Sweat Detector Uses Mosquitoes

A University of Tokyo research group and their collaborators have developed an odor-detecting sensor made from a membrane protein found in mosquitoes helping create a buzz in the scientific community.

The protein is an an olfactory receptor that responds to the smell of human sweat, that the scientists have embedded within an artificial cell membrane.

Using a mobile robot mounted with the sensor, whenever it ‘smells’ human sweat, the robot will become active. See image above.

The scientists say that the ability to react to human sweat may one day play a role in helping to search for and rescue people during disaster relief operations.

Although not the first group to create an odor detecting sensor, the University of Tokyo team is the first to use a living creature’s organics.

It’s also more compact, odor sensitive, and selective in its olfactory selectiveness—it smells what it smells, and that is human sweat.

Led by Professor Takeuchi Shoji (surname first) at the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science, Researcher Misawa  Nobuo (surname first) at Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology (KAST), and their collaborators at Sumitomo Chemical, the research team embedded the olfactory receptor—a membrane protein found in the antenna of a mosquito, which responds to human sweat odor—into an artificial cell membrane mimicking nature by having a lipid bilayer, which was formed using a method built on the scientists’ earlier research.

The olfactory receptor used in the current study responds only to a substance called octenol, an odor component of human sweat, and changes the membrane’s conductivity, or the ease with which electricity passes through it. A mosquito identifies human odor by detecting this change in electrical current.

The researchers installed the sensor—the membrane embedded with the mosquito protein—into a small wireless device and mounted it on a locomotive robot; they succeeded in demonstrating that when octenol was released in the air around the robot, it responded by moving.

Next up, the research team is looking to develop practical applications for the sensor to help rescuers search for the missing in disasters and other situations when visual confirmation is difficult… like when someone is buried under rubble after a building collapse… 

“Using the olfactory receptors of insects apart from the mosquito presents possibilities for applying them to detect illegal drugs and explosives,” says Takeuchi. “The life of the sensor currently stands at about one hour; we are aiming to extend this to around half a day.”

The current findings are based on results obtained from a project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan. This research was carried out as a collaboration among the University of Tokyo, KAST, and Sumitomo Chemical. The research outcome was delivered as an oral presentation during the MicroTAS 2016 international conference held in Ireland in October of 2016.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

For The Love(doll) Of Wrestling

A few years ago when I was a WWE wrestling junkie (I was single, obviously), I used to cheer for a wrestler named Al Snow.

He used to play a psychotic guy who talked to a manikin’s head, named “Head”. He sometimes used it to tag in and then smash a competing wrestler over the back of the head to grab the win.

What does everybody love?


Now, I didn’t shout along with the television, but I did shout it out to him as I held a door open for him at a comic convention in Chicago in 1999, I think it was.

Al chuckled and said thank-you as he passed in front of me.

Anyhow… as far as inanimate objects go, that was the best… unless you count Mick Foley and his sock puppet that he used to ram down a wrestler’s  throat in a bizarre submission move.

Who knows if Mick ever washed Socko between matches…

Which brings me to the bizarre antics this past summer of a Japanese wrestler named Ibushi Kota (surname first) who performed a wrestling match against a Japanese sex doll names Yoshihiko in a 30-minute full-on tilt for the Japanese wrestling federation Dramatic Dream Team (aka DDT).

Despite the female name, Yoshihiko was dressed up to look like famed American iconic wrestler Hulk Hogan.

And this wasn’t Yoshihiko’s first professional wrestling match, having first hit the ring as far back as 2009.

In other appearances, Yoshihiko has been made up to look like The Undertaker, Kenji Mutoh and The Great Muta.

As stupid as it all sounds to have a “real” wrestler wrestle with a Japanese sex doll in a wrestling match, it takes a lot of skill to sell it the watching audience.

Everyone knows one of the opponents isn’t animate, so it becomes a challenge for, in this case, Ibushi Kota to perform wrestling moves, and to have wrestling moves applied to himself, and to entertain everyone over the length of the 30-minute match!


That’s what Rick “The Nature Boy” Flair would say if he saw this match! That guy was the expert at taking a beating and then doing a face plant into the center of the square ring.

Anyhow… I saw this over at RocketNews 24 (Here)

Sadly the video link no longer works…

I’m stealing a photo from the RocketNews 24 story… you can click on thru the link above to see more.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Looking Back At Ohtawara

Last week, my friend Matthew traveled back to Japan on business in Tokyo and then traveled the 163.9 kilometers north to Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawara) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) to visit his ailing father-in-law.

Matthew (and his family) have been back to Ohtawara-shi a number of times since he and I were AETs (assistant English teachers) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme between 1990-1993.

While Matthew stayed in Ohtawara few years longer than myself to get married and begin his family.

I trudged home a broken and dejected man after my girlfriend elected to forgo love in order to obey her father who wanted to further his own carer ambitions by not having me anywhere involved in his daughter’s life.

I can only hope he’s dead now.

Not bitter much, I know.

That’s what you get when you read this blog—my true reaction and feelings on a topic.

The photo above was taken by Matthew… it is a view looking north.

The large white building is Zuiko Haitsi (Zuiko Heights)… my old apartment building (apartment #307… why that hasn’t been made into a worshiping shrine I’ll never know!)… once the tallest building in the city (the photo shows the rear of the building)… was a symbol of “eliteness”… it was a three-bedroom, L-D-K, two-balcony place that was made for Japanese families with a lot of money.

Obviously there were other very nice places around the city… oh my goodness…. some of the houses were spectacular… 300-year-old farming mansions that look as new as the day they underpaid peasant carpenters to build it. Awesome. Matthew’s place was pretty darn nice, too… not as large as my apartment, but very nice, nonetheless.

I think that white blocky tower that is part of my apartment complex held the elevator. 

Just in front of the apartment complex is a yellow-painted Catholic Church. Despite being Catholic, I only entered its doors twice—to pass over some mail I had received by mistake (it was written in English, so the postman naturally assumed it was for me)… and once to go and say hello to the priest… who had, as a young man, traveled in to Hiroshima a day after the dropping of the world’s first atomic bomb on a populace, to lend comfort and aid to the distraught citizenry.

The homes in the area surround a much wider 4-lane roadway—only one-lane apiece back then. Some of the older homes were pretty decrepit looking… and after having been swept away recently, Matthew informs me that there’s a park put in its place. Real greenery that doesn’t involve rice.

The city name of Ohtawara translates in English to “Big-Rice Field-Field”… as there were/are apparently a lot of rice fields in the area.

It’s true… you could throw a rock in any direction and hit a rice field or a 7-11. Okay… maybe you needed two throws, but that then would NOT be an exaggeration.

Matthew climbed to the top of an apartment building constructed after he and I left to snap the photo.

Did you know that in three years of living at Zuiko Haitsu, not once did it occur to me to take a photograph from behind my building to capture the mountains.

Hmmm… I wonder if that’s because I felt the front was better? Still… mountains! Mountains with wispy clouds being blown by cold winds…

The mountains in the back some 10 kilometers away from my apartment building are the Nasu mountain range… a bunch of active volcanoes that do emit small plumes of steam… but only when I’m climbing it apparently.

My girlfriend/fiancĂ© lived just south of the mountains… which brings us back to d’oh.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Andrew Joseph

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Don’t Give A Dam - Or Do I?

I am a collector by nature… perhaps if I was messier and less organized I could be considered a borderline hoarder.

But I’m not. I think.

I collect comic books, have a plethora of Japanese ukiyo-e, millions of LEGO bricks because I like to build, my Hot Wheels cars from the 1960s, I collect sports cards (or did) of hockey, baseball, basketball, and various television or TV shows like Planet Of The Apes, Superman, Mork & Mindy, and Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, not to mention one on martial arts, and automobiles and hot-rods.

I have for the past 10 years been collecting when I can various tobacco cards… but really only those made in 1911 and earlier and again only those that involve aviation.

While in Japan, along with the ukiyo-e, I also collected the inaugural set of its J-League soccer cards and the first three years of its baseball cards from 1991-1993… which is why I have an Ichiro Suzuki true rookie card. His second year card, also.

I also have coins and stamps, two things I also collected in Canada.

But… would I collect a 500-card series about dams?

If I was in Japan? Probably.

I think I just like the challenge of completing things. Whether it’s getting 100% in a video game (it’s why I prefer adventure games as opposed to standard shoot’em ups like Halo or Call of Duty), finishing every story I begin, I like the challenge of beating the game.

Heck, if Pokemon had been a real thing where I had to go out and catch pocket monsters… I would have to catch’em all.

So… a 500-card series on Japanese dams? I might consider it. But I might also cheat to do it.
In Japan, visitors can travel the entire country and visit dams and then go and see the dam’s management office and receive a single collectible card. Damn.

Each of the 500 cards features a color photo of the damn and surrounding area, with the reverse containing dam specifications… and if you wanna catch’em all… you have to visit each and every single damn location.

If it was up to me, I would set it up so that dam visitors could get extras of the same card (not everyone is a collector), and then trade them with others across the country who may not easily visit a faraway dam location.

It is available as one per person, but like I said… you and your wife only need one… so trade the other.

The cards look like they are the size of a standard baseball card—slightly larger than a meishi (business card), and along with the photo and specs have letters on them, such as G = gravity dam, or F = flood control denoting the dam style and the purpose of the dam at that location.

For example, in the damn card above of the Otaki Dam in Osaka-prefecture, the card’s reverse has the F and G notations, and reads: “The dam’s design featuring a row of arches capping its upper part was selected through a survey for locals, the nation’s first attempt of this kind.”

I’ll be honest and admit I have no idea if the card is 50-50 Japanese and English, or if it’s only Japanese.

These Dam cards have been available since 2011—initially at 111 dam locations, but have, since August of 2016 been upped to 500 locations.

Now... because these cards are being distributed by the government… both municipally and provincially, it is recommended you call ahead to ensure availability… sometimes they are out of cards… sometimes changes are being made to cards… blah-blah-blah.

There are 18 dams in Tochigi-ken, for example… but perhaps not every place has a card.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Godzilla: The Soul Of Japan

From Kaptain Kristian comes this informative look at Godzilla, King of the Monsters… a movie kaiju (monster) that was for many kids the lead in to their first look at Japan.

Granted it’s not a perfect look, because aside from the near nuclear meltdown of a couple of nuclear reactors at a power plant in Fukushima-ken, and a couple of its cities getting blasted to atoms by bombs during WWI… oh, and a ship and its crew being the first ever live people exposed to the radiation from nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s, Japan has never been exposed to the type of radiation that could ever spawn a monster like Godzilla.

Hmm… wait. That’s a helluva lot of exposure to deadly radiation.

The first Godzilla movie shows the sad result of what nuclear weaponry can do to Japan.
Anyhow, the video below takes a look at the evolution of Godzilla in the movies, and not real life… even though life does seem to have a way of imitating art.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks to Matthew for the heads up.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Domino’s Japan Uses Reindeer Delivery

File under WTF Japan, Domino’s Japan is using reindeer to deliver pizza during this upcoming winter season in Hokkaido.

Okay... it has horns, and probably some sort of nostril lighting system, but does it have a license plate?

Now... in case you aren’t aware, Hokkaido during the winter season is snowy… lots of snow… I mean it looks like the kind of place where you might want to have a snowmobile when you ride across the town to visit Santa’s workshop. That kindda snowy.

Below is an official Domino’s Japan videos showing the Domino team trying to train the reindeer to act like a pack mule, with the fat heat-sealing-in pizza boxes slapped on either side of the poor unnamed reindeer.

So… since that didn’t seem to work… I think the reindeer has too much jiggle in his walk causing the pizza box to fall off.

Uh, so I guess this means no TIP?

The Domino’s Japan crew then decided to attach a sleigh to him and have him cart the pizzas.

Strangely enough, the reindeer seemed more comfortable doing that.

Sadly, this was just a publicity stunt - and a good one at that!

Reindeer will not be delivering your pizza to your Hokkaido residence.

Andrew Joseph
PS: A Joke:
An American couple are traveling in Russia circa 1990, taking in the Moscow sights.
Rob looks up at the dark clouds and says to his wife Darlene: “Hmm… I think it’s going to snow.”
A comment that makes their tour guide Rudolph pipe up: “Nyet. Not snow. Rain.”
Rob: “No, I’m pretty sure it’s going to snow!”
Rudolph: “Nyet! Rain!”
Rob's wife, wanting to avoid an international incident tries to calm down her husband.
Darlene: “Now, now… I’m sure Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Okay, I’ve been holding that one since before communism collapsed in the USSR.. probably should have told it then.
I would assume that the American couple are actually spies.   
Still, the joke works better if you say the lines out loud in the appropriate accent, you capitalist pig, er, tovarish.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wrestling With A Bra

Japanese pro wrestling has finally crossed the line.

Sure we know that it’s sports-entertainment… scripted wrestling matches with pre-determined moves, throws and match winners… even scripted spontaneous television interviews.

But after seeing the photo above, I say enough is enough! Japanese pro wrestling has gone too far!

Helping to reattach the woman’s bra?!

What madness is this?!

Helping preserve the sanctity of the woman’s moral goodness? A woman who calls herself “The Walking Pheromone”?

Bakayaro!!!! (That’s Japanese for “stupid idiot”.)

Meet 36-year-old Japanese wrestler Ishikara Taichi who goes by the very original stage name of Taichi… seen in the photos scattered through here wrestling with a bra.

As a man who has wrestled with his own fair share of brassieres—and I’m talking about those that have adorned the lovely female body… struggling with snaps that won’t unsnap, hooks that won’t unhook and women who won’t let me anywhere near them, let me state that I am shocked by Taichi’s behavior… actually ensuring that Japanese media personality and model Abe Miho (surname first) doesn’t lose face when she suffered a wardrobe malfunction.

First of all… she’s gorgeous… I don’t believe she will lose face.

I know… she might become embarrassed…. I mean, she didn’t ask for her sexy bra to come unhinged… it was simply in the script.

The way it goes, is that back on June 19, 2016 at a wrestling event in Japan, Taichi noticed that the 28-year-old Abe’s bra had come loose and was about to drop its contents, namely Abe’s boobs… not to be confused with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s boobs, aka his international policy. 

Fearing that Abe (the sexy one… not the politician, sigh) would become a media darling for all the wrong reasons. Taichi sprang into action and began to reattach Abe’s bra, ticking off millions of fans, but earning the respect of Abe and women everywhere for his gallantry… and for his well-oiled muscles, while secretly spurning Abe (again… the sexy one… not the politician) for agreeing to this scripted wrestling farce.
Granted I don't have much personal experience with putting a bra ON a woman, but aside from the titillating position assumed by both participants, I'm sure there is an easier, less cluttered way of performing the good deed. Does anyone know just what the heck that leopard skin is supposed to be?
Let’s face it… is Taichi really being gallant in coming to the rescue of Abe’s (why are you even thinking about the politician?) boobs when it is all part of a rehearsed script?

That’s why I’m really upset.

At the same time, I don’t know if I am impressed or disappointed in Taichi for knowing how to “attach” a bra.

I am also a tad shocked at Abe (I would have dressed her in a leather bra to match the black leather mini skirt) because I have never met a woman who did not know how to put on her own bra.

I am impressed with Taichi, because I know that he knows that, too… and that he only had to stand in front of her and drape his cape or whatever the fug that is around her, while she twisted the rear of the bra to the front for better access to lockability and then twisted it around again making sure her sweater puppets were adequately covered.

Now that’s acting.

I don’t know if he can wrestle, but Taichi sure knows how to set himself to grapple with a bra.

Some…where… what’s that I smell? It’s purty…
Andrew Joseph