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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Miniature Furniture Fur Cats

The Okawa Kagu company has released a new craftsman MADE line of high-quality furniture for cats.


They look fabulous… but the way I see it this beautiful cat furniture is a chance for human revenge!

Ticked off at your cat using YOUR sofa as his/her private scratching post - even though you BOUGHT them a private scratching post? 

Well… revenge is a dish best served couch. Scratch the  crap out of their cat furniture!!!! See how the cat likes that!!!!

Being a cat, it probably doesn’t give a crap, and will probably help you destroy it.

By felines on this (ha-ha), is that is you are interested in getting some fancy cat furniture for your cat, perhaps you should only do so if your indoor cat is declawed.

Would you want muddy paw marks on your bed? No… I say this furniture is for indoor cats only.

Personally, I’m not all that thrilled with outdoor cats. I look at my neighbor’s  Siamese forever sitting in my backyard or front yard… she won’t go to her own yard anymore because they just got a dog… so it’s my place. Pooping everywhere. Stoopid cat. I would never buy craftsman MADE cat furniture for that cat…

… and my own… he has claws (that’s how we got the five-year-old bugger two years ago).

My whole take on the cat furniture is suspiciously akin to the old Steve Martin routine on cat toys from one of my favorite comedy albums ever, A Wild And Crazy Guy:

Anyhow, don’t let me stop you from spoiling your purr pal. I have a cat. Wish I had a dog. But I have a cat I named Freddy, after the ascot-wearing dude in the Scooby-Doo cartoons. When I got him, he was named Dante (after the guy who wrote the triple poem the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri… not surprisingly as funny as Steve Martin), but despite loving the poem, I needed to give him the Scooby Doo name  because I was starting a trend, what with his predecessor named Daphne. 

Here… check out the video Okawa Kagu has put out on their new cat furniture.

Fricking stuff looks better than my own human furniture… of course… my cat ruined that.

Did you notice that the video showed a miniature cabinet and coffee table?

Yee cats!

Andrew "When he sits around the house, he sits around the house" Joseph
PS: For you non-cat people, Happy Halloween and/or Happy Anniversary. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

How Not To Empower Japanese Women

Growing up as a visible minority in Canada--though apparently in my home city of Toronto, being a visible minority is now the majority--I have always been in favor of empowering women with equal rights and opportunities.

No reason to be a hypocrite, I believe.

Which brings me to the hypocritical photo above.

At a very recent event where Tokyo governor Koike Yukio (surname first) gave a speech, she used the above image as a means to show how Japanese women should be empowered.

Yes...she shows an image of young Japanese women working in a day-care.

Holy crap.

She could have easily have shown a photo of herself... a strong woman working in Japanese politics as the frickin' governor of Tokyo.

But no... she chose to show that rather than working as the governor of a major Japanese empire builder... or as a scientist working for JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) for example, or as a doctor working to keep people healthy, she chose to say that "Here... here's what Japanese women can aspire to - looking after babies."

There's nothing wrong with looking after babies, toddlers, kids (husbands), et al... Japanese women (and women all over this planet) have been doing it for millennia. Japanese women have been looking after the household: cooking, cleaning, handling the household finances, ensuring the kids do their homework, and making sure the husband has a hot meal and a hot bath ready for him regardless of when he shows up after working stupid hours of overtime every night.

But why show a graphic of women working with kids as the means to show how Japanese women might better empower themselves in a male-dominated society?

Yes... I'm sure more daycare is required if more women are to re-enter the workforce. Hey... aren't the grandparents living with Japanese families anymore? They used to. And grandma used to help out.

Consider if you will, that in Japan, a woman can be considered an old maid if she isn't married by the age of 25.

Postulating, a married Japanese woman might have a child or two by 26. Keeping that age in mind, assume that the woman's parents would have done the same. That would make the grandparents about 52... younger than me with my 11-year-old.

I'm implying that at 52, and assuming that the grandmother never went back to work after she had kids to raise, could she not help out her daughter or daughter-in-law? Fifty isn't old, despite what I thought back when I was 11. I move slower, sure, but I still move, and I'm not about to burn down the house because my memory is faulty, or because I've fallen and I can't get up.

I'm just saying... maybe more daycare centers aren't required for every child-rearing family... but sure... a few more couldn't hurt. Grandparents have their own lives, too, after all.... so yeah... more daycare in Japan... still... I don't know how a career in babysitting empowers anyone other than a 12-year-old... which was when I began to babysit... continuing until I was nearly 26 and left Toronto to go to Japan on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

At that time, along with babysitting, I was teaching piano to eight students, coaching women's soccer, playing men's softball, going to journalism school - studying for and doing assignments, and interning at various newspapers.

Busy? Yeah. I empowered myself. Maybe Japanese women need to empower themselves. Yeah, I know that also means people have allow you to empower yourself... but I did so by a whole bunch of separate means.

Pollsters claim that some 3-million women in Japan are NOT working, even though they would like to.

According to Catalyst, a not-for-profit organization that promotes women in the workplace, women account for 9.1 percent of all senior managers at car manufacturer Nissan, which is above the 8.3% average for Japanese firms with more than 100 employees.

I wonder how that relates to businesses in Canada, for example. I'm sure it's still a sausage party.

As for Tokyo governor Koike... should we expect better from a hell-bent for power politician who has espoused racist overtones with regards to Koreans living and working in Japan for generations (see HERE)?

I guess not. It's just par for the course.

Sorry, female population of Japan. It looks like any future of empowerment must be gained by continuing to look after everyone else but yourselves.

I'm afraid that if you want true empowerment, you may have to go out an grab it for yourselves without any help from a woman who could offer it.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Is it just me, but is it a bad sign when the only two times I've heard of Tokyo's new governor, it has been because of her ignorance. I guess ignorance trumps common sense.
PPS: Photo and inspiration for this blog is taken from the Twitter account of @AmyCatalinac HERE. Amy is an assistant professor at New York University, and Japanese politics scholar. Now there's some empowerment... 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Japanese Batman Records

For you young'uns, when I say "records", I am not talking about being the best at something, rather I am talking about songs pressed onto a hunk a wax and played on a hi-fi... something folks did up until the early 1980s when records and cassette tapes went the way of the dodo with the advent of the CD player... which was supplanted again my MP3 and MP4 digital files.

For the really hip young person, we know that records are once again in vogue amongst audiophiles.

I must really be hip, because I still have about 300 record albums from the 1960s, 70s and early 80s... with original pressings of all the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin albums... I suppose because I never threw out anything I bought as a collectible.

Anyhow... what we have above and below, are two different Japanese record albums related to the American Batman television series of the 1960s starring Burt Ward (as Robin) and the late great Adam West (as Batman). You can see them in the image above in the most cool 1960s Batmobile... in my opinion the best Batmobile ever made.

I don't know who made the albums... I have no idea if they are official records... I don't even know what the fug they have written on them.

All I know is that I think the album at is a Japanese record book from the show.

The album immediately below, I am led to believe is a 1966 Batman Vinyl Record and Picture Book combination... which is more cool than it sounds.
For any of you folks out there who are more skilled than I in the art of deciphering Japanese, please be a good citizen of Gotham and drop me a line with your translations.

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Caves Of Luna

Luna, as I hope you are all aware, is the actual name of Earth’s singular moon.

Anyhow, back on October 18, 2017, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) says its Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) moon probe (It also goes by the given name of Kaguya... though Selene is also a nice name.) found a large cavern under the moon’s surface in the Marius Hills area on the near side of the moon.

By the way... in Japanese literature or folklore, there's a Princess Kaguya... she's known as the Moon Child. You can read more about that in an old blog I did HERE.  

The Kaguya probe’s most recent find shows via a lunar radar sounder, that the cave is approximately 100 meters  (~328 feet)wide and goes on for about 50 kilometers (31.07 miles).


Back in 2009, Kaguya had found a large shaft that had an opening diameter of about 50 meters (164 feet), going down about 50 meters (164 feet)… so obviously, this new cavern is much larger-er-er-er-r-r-r! 

Scientists at JAXA hope that the cavern, likely formed via ancient volcanic activity (until about 1-billion years ago) on Luna, may contain ice or even water.

As for what the cavern could mean for the future: If man goes to the moon again in manned flights, and opts to build a colony there, it could be used as a base, providing shelter from nasty cosmic radiation… or from temperature extremes.

Of course, finding water there would be a boon, as astronauts would then no-longer need to drink their own re-processed urine.

I’ll drink to that!
Andrew Joseph

Friday, October 27, 2017

74-Year-Old Ninja Burglar Evades Police For 9 Years

“I thought I would never be caught. I am defeated,” says Tanigawa Mitsuaki (surname first), a 74-year-old unemployed senior citizen whom Osaka police had dubbed the Ninja of Heisei.

Tanigawa, as seen in the image above, would wear black head-to-toe outfits and employ seemingly incredible agility to avoid capture over a near nine-year-period.

Between March of 2009 through July of 2017, Tanigawa allegedly stole some ¥29.43 million (~CDN $332,000 or ~US $258,000), performing night-time burglaries at both homes and small businesses in the Higashi-Osaka area.

He has confessed to burglarizing an electronic shop in July of 2017, stealing ¥27,000 (CDN $304.50/US $237) in cash.

When doing his burglarizing of homes, Tanigawa would enter an apartment building, for example, change into his black outfit in a found vacant room, do his stuff, and when finished, would change back into his normal street clothes, walking away scott-free... or in some instances where cameras caught him in his ninja garb, he can be seen lithely moving along building rooftops!

Until March of 2017, when a security camera caught Tanigawa lowering a black neck warmer over his face. While police still had difficulty in nabbing the senior citizen who was NOT in their system, they were eventually able to catch a break, arresting him after his most recent escapade at the aforementioned electronics store.

As for the nickname, for some reason the media and police though calling him the Ninja of Heisei was appropriate, as the Heisei era is the current Emperor’s era, beginning in 1989.

Wow… that’s a really dull way of giving someone a nickname.

How about the Black Ninja, or the Osaka Ninja?

The Ninja of Heisei might have been more appropriate if the guy had been born during the Heisei period, but simply naming him so because he began burglarizing in an era that could last years more - well… that’s  the Mother of Disappointing Nicknames.

We should all complain about Japan’s police and media inability to come up with cool nicknames… we could call it “Nickname-gate.”

Hopefully, you can see the sarcasm dripping off my words.

A secretive nondescript eye glance to Julian for alerting me to this ancient ninja burglar.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Noisy Noodle Slurping? There’s An App For That!

For those of you who have never been to Japan, or even observed Japanese folk having a “noodle soup” meal… you probably aren’t aware that the Japanese love to slurp the noodles… making a loud sound that sounds considerably childish or just plain rude to western ears.

In Japan, it’s just the way thing are.

I was of the opinion that when in Japan, do as the Japanese do… so I slurped by noodles. Noisely. Just like them.

I figured also, that if I can hear them slurp, and think it’s rude, perhaps they would feel the same if I ate noiselessly.

But why?

Some Japanese have postulated that “it doesn’t look delicious” when there is no noisy slurping. The meaning of this, is that sound must convey deliciousness to the Japanese. Can read about that HERE.

What a load of crap!

If sound conveyed deliciousness, then surely EVERY food eaten by the Japanese would be eaten noisily.

What… only noodles are delicious? Are you telling me that Cup Noodles is so delicious that it is worthy of a noisy slurp, but sushi… regardless of its softness, isn’t worth some noisy lipsmacking? Pshaw. Pshaw, I say.

That article on Chowhound says that: “First, "deliciousness" is conveyed by the sound of slurping, and further, slurping does in fact make the noodle taste better.”

I’ve poo-pooed the first reason about why the Japanese slurp, but the second?

Apparently slurping makes the noodle taste better is based on the concept of how wine connoisseurs gurgle wine, sucking air through their mouths to force air into the nasal passage, allowing the flavors to spread.

The Chowhound article says that it’s the same with slurping noodles, that the flavors of the noodles and soup are multiplied when slurping.

Uh… unless there’s real science to back that up, I’m calling BS.

1) Historically, when did the Japanese start slurping noodles, and IF it was done to make the food taste better, WHY was slurping not passed on to all other foods?

2) Did the Japanese get the slurping concept from their own drinking of wine? What wine did the Japanese ever drink until perhaps 175 years ago… or maybe it was part of the trade with the Portuguese 500 years ago… but how many people were drinking their wine the way a wine connoisseur might before drinking it? We’re talking Portuguese sailors teaching the Japanese (if it even was part of the trade)? Sailors… sure… pinkies extended, talking posh Portuguese-Japanese, gently sloshing Alicante Bouschet around his mouth as he sucks air in to get the full experience of the fermented grape… yeah… right. IF the sailor was drinking wine, it was being poured down his throat.

3) I’ve watched a few Japanese people drink a glass of wine… and at no time did they slurp it down… maybe because one does NOT need to be a wine snob in order to enjoy a glass of wine… though I have to admit that I’m pretty sure most people my age who drink wine ARE wine snobs. Me?
Host: “Andrew, would you like a glass of wine - we have a Alicante bouschet, a El Esteco Ciclos Torrontes 2017 Calchaqui Valley from Argentina, and a Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé.”
Andrew: “Hunh?”
Host: “A Red, a White and a Rose”
Andrew: “Hunh?”
Host: “Do you want a soda?”
Andrew: “Coke Zero, if you have it."
Host: "We just have Pepsi."
Andrew: “I’m leaving. Obviously know one here knows me. If they did, I wouldn’t have been invited to a party.”

Anyhow… that whole reason for slurping noodles is because it makes the food taste better is a crock of you-know-what. It might be true, but I need scientific proof… not just the fact that if wine connoisseurs say slurping helps make the wine taste better, so to must it be true that slurping makes noodles taste better. It might be true, but PROVE it!

Which makes the following Japanese invention even more stupid.

Developed by Japanese food manufacturer Nissin, the Otohiko is a ramen fork that helps silence the ramen noodle slurpers of Japan. Nissin, by the way, manufactures the Cup Noodle soups. See below.

First off… WTF is someone doing eating ramen noodles with a fork? Chopsticks!  If you aren’t going to eat them with chopsticks, don’t bother eating them unless you are under the age of six. If you are older than that, learn to use them. I figured it out in a couple of minutes. Me. The guy who had never gone food shopping, done laundry, cooked or sewed before arriving on Japan’s shores. You learn how, or you are lost.  

Anyhow… the Otohiko ramen fork provides a noise that sounds like electronic dance music, to drown out slurping noises so as to not annoy the people around you who don’t like your slurping.

Electronic music vs slurping? Which is more annoying? This is really an option?

The Otohiko ramen fork contains a directional microphone that recives the slurping sounds, and directs a message to an APP on your smartphone to trigger a noise-cancelling effect.

Actually… it’s not a noise-cancelling effect if it is barfing out a flash of electronic music. There’s still noise. It may, however, be a slurp-canceling effect.

There’s a crowdfunding program going on, whereby if there are 5,000 pre-ordered Otohiko ramen forks ordered at a cost of ¥14,800 (Cdn $166.63/ US$130.08) (Use for currency conversions… I do), then apparently Nissin will begin to produce them.

Wow… you know you could get a prostitute for that amount of money and still go out for a hot dog later? I’m guessing. I don’t know how much a hot dog costs anymore.

If you are so concerned that your slurping is being considered rude by your gaijin friends in Japan, tell them that this is Japan and they should be less judgmental and should try and fit in.

If you are in Germany, let’s say, and at a Japanese restaurant, and people are upset because you are slurping your ramen noodles, what the hell do you care? While not officially true, when in an ethnic restaurant, the rules of that country can more or less apply. Go ahead and slurp. When in a Japanese restaurant, do as the Japanese diners do!

Or, if you are a Japanese person or Japanese wanna-be and are slurping your spaghetti because you think it’s the same as being in Japan or a Japanese restaurant - stop. Now YOU are being rude.

It’s just common sense. Why spend $130 for a fork that makes a noise when you slurp?

It’s like clearing your throat loudly as you fart in an elevator… everyone knows you just farted… not only can they smell it… they heard it.

Okay… I don’t know if that’s a thing… it is in the men’s room. Though strangely, no one seems to care when they fart loudly while standing at the urinal… I don’t get it.

I don’t get the Otohiko either.

If you have the itch to get one because you enjoy the odd, visit the Nissin website HERE.

If I still haven’t convinced you, mayhaps this YouTube video will:

Andrew “I just used ‘mayhaps’ in a sentence” Joseph
PS: Look at me, all classy and sh!t.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

1960s Japanese Batman Action Figures

What we have here are 1960s-era Batman action figures... but made in Japan for the Japanese market.

There's a similar looking one made in Hong Kong, and I believe sold in the Mexico market - but it has "BATMAN" written within the wider bat symbol on the chest.

I can not find any other information about the Japanese figure, except that there seems to be a few different variations of them - color-wise... and all of them appear to be done by someone color blind... or, more than likely done in the wrong colors to purposely disguise the fact that they are unlicensed knock-offs.

While I am NOT a Batman collector - except for comic books - these images open up a whole new world for Batman collectors.

Don't always thing North American.

As a comic book collector, I have quite a few British price variants of "American" comics... such as for Flash Gordon (King publishers) and recently purchased a 1940s Donald Duck comic that's a Canadian variant. I even have a couple of Canadian western comic books from the 1940s that aren't in the price guide.

No biggie... about 10 years ago I purchased three Miniature Life magazine comic books for $10.50... and while the price guide noted that two of them existed, I was the one that alerted them to other (from 1912). What's it worth? Well, since no one has ever sold one, or purchased one, apparently it's worth $10.50 for all three... but since I might own the only 1912 issue... who knows? 

Heck... a set of British aviation cards I collected from 1910, I though that was it initially... until I discovered there were other similar issues: China, Australia and Canada, for example.

For you comic book collectors in the U.S., there are Canadian price variants too for Marvel and Gold Key books in the 1980s - stuff you'll never see in any price guide.

Like the above Batman collection shows... there's always more to collect if you think globally.

If anyone out there can tell me WHO manufactured these figures, and what's up with the costume color variations amongst these, and even why none looks like the true Batman of the 1960s... well, it would be appreciated., 

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Canada Creates Earthquake Resistant Concrete To Stop Walls From Collapsing

Japan has long been interested in making all its new buildings earthquake resistant, but what to do about all those building built BEFORE such defensive measure were put in place?

The University of British Columbia in western Canada has developed a new type of concrete that can be sprayed onto existing walls, allowing them to be be able to withstand earthquakes that would have previously made them collapse.

Called EDCC (Eco-friendly Ducticle Cementitious Composite), the concrete contains polymer-based fibers that provide it with a malleable, but steel-like strength that allows it to flex when under pressure, rather than crumble as traditional concrete will.

Concrete is a composite material composed of coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement that hardens over time.

Howvere, in EDCC, about 70 percent of the cement is replaced with fly ash. Fly ash (aka pulverised fuel ash) is a coal combustion product composed of fine particles that are driven out of the boiler with the flue gases.

While cement production is in itself a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the captured  fly ash is usually just dumped... except now it can be used to create something else... which is why EDCC is considered "eco-friendly".  

In laboratory tests, a wall made of concrete blocks was covered with 10 millimeters (.3970 inches) worth of EDCC. Another, non-treated wall was also in place. 

After the EDCC-covered wall had been allowed to harden, both walls were subjected to an earthquake force of a 9 Magnitude and 9,.1 Magnitude earthquake... the former being what shook the hell out of Japan's northeast cost on March 11, 2011. 
While the treated EDCC wall was still standing, the untreated wall collapsed. 

For a live test, EDCC will be applied to the walls of Vancouver's Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary School.

The UBC-hosted Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence is also making the material available for the seismic retrofitting of a school in northern India.

Did you notice the two Indian dudes working at the university? It may be no coincidence that India is getting in on the early live EDCC tests. 

Japan... what are you waiting for?

Andrew Joseph
Image and video per University of British Columbia.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mountain Bike Grips Inspired By Sushi

At first glance, you might wonder just how a set of mountain bike handle bar grips is inspired by sushi—especially after looking at the image above.

However, you have to look at how sushi is made—in a long cylindrical fashion before it is sliced to the familiar medallion shape we all love to eat.

While the sushi is still in its cylindrical shape, we should note that it is usually flat on one end = perhaps to stop it from rolling away… I have no idea.

Anyhow,  cycling ergonomics expert Sean Madsen—I’ll bet you didn’t know such a job existed—says that bicycle handlebar grips work better if they're flat on top (like the bottom of a roll of sushi before it is sliced).

Madsen also points out that if the grips are narrow at the top, and have “wings”, it is even better.

So… that’ why Madsen designed these new mountain bike grips, called sushi grips because of the manner in which a sushi cone is held.

Hunh… so it has nothing to so with a pre-sliced sushi roll? Fawk… I really should read the whole thing first… BUT, if I did, then how could I share the ’surprise’ with you.

Anyhow, the new Sushi Grip provides the rider with greater control of your bike, especially in rough, technical terrain and improves your ability to dive into corners. These grips also help reduce hand numbness, aches, and forearm fatigue.

According to Madsen, when we grasp something in our hand, most of the force comes from our ring and pinky fingers, acting in opposition to the thumb. Additionally, the muscles in those two fingers are able to exert the most force when the hand is almost closed into a fist.

With that in mind, Sushi Grips are narrower at the ends – where those fingers sit – than the handlebar itself. This means that the grips extend out from the bars 65 mm per side, so users will either have to cut their bars down, or just go with a wider ride.

The wing on the outside of the grip that allows you to press more weight on the inside hand through corners. This makes the bike lean farther, tightening the turning radius without slowing down.

Because of the angled grip surface on the underside, it allows greater use of your ring and pinky fingers, resulting in more control in technical sections of the trail. By using more fingers to hold on to the bike, it means less forearm and hand fatigue, and an overall lighter touch on the bars.

The third design feature is the platform on the top of the grip. This allows pressure to be shifted away from the nerves in the wrist, which typically cause numbness. This platform supports the hand on the pads at the base of the thumb and fingers, moving pressure out of the crease of the palm. On rough terrain the impact of a round grip into the crease of the palm is the cause of sore, achy hands. Finally, this platform is much smaller than other "ergonomic" grips, providing just enough support without interfering with your control of your bike.

The Sushi Grip is smaller than the the current handlebar diameters in use today. This obstacle was overcome by designing the grip to extend past the end of the handlebar. In fact, the design extends 65mm past the end of the handlebar on each side.

With this design consideration, due care was taken to ensure the grips would be strong and withstand the most abusive riding. The material selected for the base structure is a reinforced nylon, capable of handling the works; from rock gardens to big drops and jumps. The soft sections of the grip, where texture and feel is important, will be a rubber-like compound that can handle several seasons of use.

Okay… this isn’t a blog about mountain bike grips, and anything else I write here is just going to be me stealing everything from a website.

But just in case you are one of those people whop hates to travel from one site to a possible sketchy one… or maybe you still have dial-up and it takes forever to load, here’s some advice on how to best use the Sushi Grip when riding your mountain bike…. which truthfully, I have never done. I used to ride a bike. I rode it darn near everyday while I lived my three+years in Japan… assuming I didn’t use it while sick, or on vacation.
Anyhow… for a great initial starting position, align the top platform (that your palm contacts) 2-3 degrees angled back towards you. This gets a good distribution of pressure across your palm, while allowing your fingers to curl naturally under the grip. On your first few rides, don't forget to take a multi-tool to adjust the angle slightly if needed.

Madsen is currently raising production funds for the grips, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$40 will get you a set of Sushi Grips, assuming all goes according to plan. If you'd prefer them to already be mounted on an aluminum or carbon handlebar, higher pledges will get you that.
Go check out the product over at

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Augmented Shrine

Here’s a piece of art I found on-line that I really liked.

It’s by an artist named Elijah McNeal from Texas, who calls this work “Augmented Shrine”.

Artists like McNeal and my pal Pa5cal, they like to take the organic and infuse it with inorganic.

While this infusion is mild, it certainly is augmented.

HERE’s where I found his art—the muted colors showcase a fair bit of pinks and purples, and while naught else is organic infused, they all possess that Akira/Blade Runner vibe to them - in a good way.

There seems to be more of a collection of his work over at, plenty of mech, tech and what the heck?!

Elijah - great stuff!

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Brave Racists Coming Out

On Thursday afternoon, my friend Vinnie sent me a contributed Forbes article written by Internet buddy Jake Adelstein.

We're not really buddies, but have conversed a few times via Twitter. Jake is a newspaper journalist - a gaijin who had worked the police beat for Japanese language newspapers, and then wrote a very eye-opening tale about the yakuza (Japan's version of the mob), called Tokyo Vice.

It's a very good book that anyone interested in Japan... the real gritty Japan... should buy a copy of and read once or twice. 

Anyhow, you should read Jake's latest piece in Forbes HERE.

Jake writes about a Korean prejudice that appears to be emanating from the female (her sex is unimportant, but I mention it in case you don't know Japanese names) Governor of  Tokyo Koike Yukio (surname first).

The fact that Governor Koike appears to have a prejudice against Koreans isn't in itself mind-blowing. I've found - granted this was 25 years ago - that when the Japanese talk about Korea or Koreans, they don't seem to hold them in high regard.

I discussed this with Vinnie via a couple of e-mails.

I told him how even my locals from the fair city of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken - who treated me with complete respect... even going out of their way to correct others from calling me a "gaijin/outsider", telling them to refer to me as An-do-ryu-sensei (Andrew teacher)... well, when it came to the Koreans, it was a horse of a different color.

We were discussing the Hyundai motor car company, who were building their Korean car in Japan... and I asked my locals what they thought of the cool Hyundai cars... and to a person, all turned their nose up at it.

Why... because it's Korean, and therefore not as good as a Japanese car.

That might have just been self-pride. Back in the 1990s, I can confirm that the Japanese were very proud of being Japanese... maintaining a bit of snob mentality about it.

I can tell you that no one wanted to discuss their attitude in front of other Japanese... just with me, when I was alone with them. They kept their true feelings to themselves back then.

Why to me? I don't know. Why do people tell me anything? They do, though. Maybe I just ask the right questions in the right way. It's my curse. It's also why I'm quite open about myself, here in this blog.

For example, one of the plans the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme had for us foreigners, was to internationalize the Japanese... to make them discover that people are people... that they (the Japanese) are NOT superior to everyone else.

It wasn't like everyone sucks, except the Japanese, but rather more like everything about Japan and from Japan was better than everyone else.

Except when it came to the Koreans... in that case, Koreans and Korean things were inferior.

No... not EVERYONE felt that way... that's an assumption.... I asked a lot of people... and everyone felt Korea et al were inferior, but I assume NOT EVERYONE felt that way. I'm a realist. Still... these people were my friends... and my friends seemed to have racist attitudes.

As an aside... before coming to Japan, one of my very best friends - a White dude - confided that he had never had a Brown friend before... assuming us all to be curry-eating ragheads... but not me... I was different, he assured me. Fawwwwk. He wasn't even drunk when he said that... but it was meant to imply that I was okay because I was the whitest Brown guy ever and didn't speak with an accent and loved Canada, The Tragically Hip and Rush and hockey. I still do... but really... there but for the grace of God, go I because I speak proper English without an accent. You know he never would have said that racist crap to anyone else... he never did again, mind you... still, back then, I was a chicken sh!t and didn't have the balls to tell him what I really thought.

Back to me in Japan... in my story, the Hyundai were being built in Japan by Japanese autoworkers and probably Japanese robots.

All I could get was that the Japanese didn't care much for their Korean "brethren"... and no one could or would provide details. And this came from my BOSS Mr. Hanazaki... the last person I would have expected it from. 
I think that there is a deep-set hatred of Koreans in Japan. It's like the Koreans are Japan's version of the Gypsies and Jews of pre-WWII Europe.

It goes back generations and generations... and the fact that there still seems to be an ethno-divide... and this is me guessing that the Koreans still seem to identify as Koreans... well... I wonder if that's because of how Japan treats them, or if that's the Korean contingent's choice.

Anyhow... the Tokyo Governor has been supported by radical Japanese groups that whitewash Japan's WWII war atrocities... and there were quite a few of those.

Governor Koike herself also has denied that thousands of Koreans were slaughtered by Japanese mobs in 1923. She's of the opinion that history is written by the winners... or at least can be rewritten after 75 years or so after the fact. It doesn't make it any less of a farce.

My e-mails to Vinnie adds: "It's amazing how all the "haters" come out when they see someone else be unafraid... and in this case I'm talking about Trump.

"While Abe (Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo - surname first) has never been afraid to show his colors, I must admit that he seems to have backed down a bit as Trump goes off the rails... (though) I think he's quietly egging Trump on."

I bring all this up after reading about how in the evening of Thursday, October 19, former U.S. president George W. Bush had this to say:

“Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of the free markets, from the strength of democratic alliance and from the advance of free societies,” Bush said. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”
He also warned of the dangers of a worldwide pattern of countries — including some in Europe — “turning inward.” And though Bush did not refer to Trump by name during his remarks, his warning about the current U.S. chief executive was clear.
“America is not immune from these trends,” Bush said. “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

While former president G. W. Bush made mention of America and Europe turning inward, with too much of a "me first" attitude, he probably could have included Japan into that mix.

Bush's dad, George H. Bush, when he was president barfed all over Japan prime minister Miyazawa Kiichi. The man was sick, but still felt it his duty to play diplomat - and I respect that, so you'll have to look up the videos of this incident without my help.

My point... heil myself, is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to look after your own, but it should not be done with complete disregard for others.

The "me first" attitude always seems to play on prejudice and bigotry, and in current politics, sexism - the complete disregard for anyone different from "me".

If it's okay for one leader of the free world to do it, why not its population? Why not politicians from other countries?

Let's just say that there were and are, a lot of closest racists in Canada and the U.S. and everywhere else... and they have become emboldened to speak their mind nowadays since their political leaders are doing it. Oh yeah... what a wonderful rife.

This is what we are seeing now. We saw it all back in the 1930s, and we ignored it until it was too late.

As the old adage goes: Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image from Forbes: Tokyo Governor and leader of the Party of Hope Yuriko Koike greets her supporters during an election campaign appearance in Saitama on October 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Behrouz MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, October 20, 2017

American Money Prepared In Case Of Japanese Attack

A $5 bill... with the word Hawaii written in the back?

Why couldn't it have been a $50?! Yeah, like no one else was thinking about Hawaii 5-0!

What we have here, however, is the not-yet-State of Hawaii, specially marked overprint for four denominations of currency, consisting of:

One dollar silver certificate; a five, 10 and 20-dollar Federal reserve Note, that were issued on June 25, 1942… just in case Japan captured Hawaii.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941—Hawaii, which was then a protectorate of the United States of America (much as Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are today), and each of those countries was allowed to vote in US elections, and could use American money.

By the way, here’s a list of FORMER protectorates of the United States of America:

    •    Liberia (1822–1847)
    •    Cuba (1898–1904)
    •    Panama Canal Zone (1903–1979)
    •    Haiti (1915-1935)
    •    Honduras (1903–1925)
    •    Nicaragua (1912–1933)
    •    Dominican Republic (1914–1924)
    •    Sultanate of Sulu (1903–1915)
    •    Germany (1945-1949)
    •    South Korea (1945-1948)
    •    Ryukyu Islands (1945-1972)
    •    Commonwealth of the Philippines (1934–1946): Under the provisions of the Tydings–McDuffie Act, the territory would become self-governing although its military and foreign affairs would be under the United States.
    •    Hawaii (1850s–1894/1898)
    •    Compact of Free Association
The Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau have a similar status (associated state) since their independence.

Anyhow, just in case Japan was able to take over Hawaii, American military officials were concerned that the Japanese would then get their hands on a whole lot of Us money, which could be taken from banks or even private people.

So, on January 10, 1942 Military governor Delos Carleton Emmons signed an order to recall all regular US paper money in the Hawaiian Islands… noting, however that individual people could carry up to $200, and businesses $500 (plus extra paper money for payroll).

Then, on June 25, 1942 the Hawaii overprint banknotes were issued:
  • Series 1935A $1 silver certificate;
  • Series 1934 $5 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes, and;
  • Series 1934A $5, $10, and $20 Federal Reserve Notes from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
If you look at the bills, you Americans especially should see the color difference… each possess a brown-ink color on the serial numbers and the treasury seals.

As well, an overprint of the word “HAWAII” was added: two small overprints to the sides of the obverse of the bill between the border and both the treasury seal and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seal, and huge outlined HAWAII lettering dominating the reverse. 
The plan: Should the unthinkable happen and Japan take over Hawaii, the American government could immediately declare any Hawaii-stamped banknotes declared worthless.

The people of Hawaii were told to turn-in all regular US notes by July 15, 1942 and were issued the new Hawaii-overstamp notes.

As of August 15, 1942, ONLY the Hawaii-overstamp notes were considered legal tender in Hawaii… except under special circumstances. 

To ensure the Japanese never did get their hands on the turned in regular banknotes, some $200-million worth of currency was destroyed in Hawaii, rather than attempt to have it shipped back to mainland U.S.A where it could have been waylaid by the Japanese.

At first, a crematorium was used to destroy the money, but when that proved to be too time-consuming, a furnace at the Aiea sugar mill was also used.

Hawaii continued to issue new notes until October 21, 1944. 

But, as of April 1946, the Hawaii-overstamp bank notes were recalled… but like in any recall, not everyone turned in the bills, with more than a few kept as a souvenir.

Denomination    Quantity Printed    Asterisk/Star Notes
$1                             35,052,000        $204,000
$5                               9,416,000        ?
$10                          10,424,000         ?
$20                          11,246,000         $54,500

I’ve never understood why some banknotes have an asterisk/star added to the right of a serial number. Until now. I have a few Canadian banknotes with an asterisk/star… and never knew what it was all about…

As I now understand, they are denoted as “replacement notes”, but these bills are already replacing the standard US currency in Hawaii. I believe it has a star added when a series of notes is accidentally printed with the same serial number—and no two notes should ever have the same serial number… and rather than destroy them (a waste of paper and ink), an asterisk is added.

Andrew Joseph


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rock'em Sock'em Robots: We Have A Winner

For those of you who are interested, Japan and America went to war on the evening of Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

They battled with giant robots.

I wrote about the hype HERE - and maybe you should (re)familiarize yourselves with it first, or you could simply skip MY hype and watch the hype AND the bout in its entirety in the video below.

No... no spoilers. I wouldn't do that to you. It's 26:42 long. 

Just watch and enjoy:


Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How A 19th Century Artist Is Helping Clean Up After 21st Century Nuclear Disasters

Yeah… you read the headline correctly, though I admit it is a bit of creative license on my part. Sort of.

Back in the 1830s, Katsushika Hokusai (surname first - but he is, for some reason, better known via his first name, rather than his surname) began using a blue ink on his paintings - such as The Great Wave Off Kanegawa (see above)as part of his epic “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” woodblock print series.

It’s a globally-famous painting, where you will often see artists copy those fingerlets of the waves into projects of their own, from standard art, to manga, to anime… I had always called it the Hokusai wave, long before I had even contemplated going to Japan.

And while the sheer ferociousness of the wave is all-encompassing, one could and should also point to Hokusai’s use of color, as an important means of delivery the image’s impact.

While affectionately called Hokusai Blue by his fans, the color is actually known as Prussian Blue…

Prussia? What’s a Prussia? Well… founded in 1525, and dissolved in 1947, Wikipedia says that “Prussia was a prominent historical German state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and centered on the region of Prussia.”

Okay… does it help if I say that its capital was Berlin, and that Prussia is nowadays in parts of Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Denmark, Belgium and the Czech Republic. In other words, it was a pretty big deal.

Hokusai’s blue aka Prussian Blue, aka Berlin blue, Parisian and/or Paris blue.

It has a chemical formula of  chemical formula Fe
. or… it can be written as Fe
· xH

I know… more about color than most people would ever think they would need on a Wednesday.

And why would I bother to tell you about a chemical formula? It’s true… I failed Grade 12 chemistry… apparently you are supposed to study… but never did anyone teach me HOW to study or even what studying was… but that’s a whine for another day.

So what the heck does the paint color with too many damn names have to do with helping to clean up after 21st century nuclear disasters?

Wellllll… if we take the Hokusai Blue pigment, and combine it with cellulose nanofiber (a raw material of paper), one can create a sponge that is highly successful in absorbing radioactive cesium.
Hokusai Blue Cesium Absorption Sponges

So, while useless in cleaning up after such disasters as a forest fire, mudslide, earthquake, volcano or tsunami, the next time there’s a radioactive spill of cesium, Japan’s got a sponge for you.

Developed by a University of Tokyo research team, they have succeeded in synthesizing compound nanoparticles, comprising organic and inorganic substances. This new class of organic/inorganic composite nanoparticles is able to selectively adsorb, or collect on the surface, radioactive cesium.

I was just going to present their research paper here, but I do feel I owe you a shot at turning it into something less scientific.

Now… because the combines Hokusai Blue pigment/ nanofiber was an absorber, they developed sponges from these nano particles… which actually was highly effective in decontaminating water and soil that was exposed to radiation during the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in 2011.

Apparently removing the radioactive elements cesium-134 and -137 (and others) from contaminated seawater or soil is quite difficult.

Fortunately, the Prussian blue (ferric hexacyanoferrate) pigment has a jungle gym-like colloidal structure, and the size of its single cubic opening, is a near-perfect match to the size of cesium ions.

That means it, by itself, is part of a medicine for any human being exposed to radiation, with the express purpose of absorbing cesium radiation.

But, since Prussian blue is highly attracted to water—removing it from the natural environment is extremely difficult.

If you were to take one of Hokusai’s prints where the Hokusai /Prussian Blue pigment is in play, and expose it to water, the color will not fade.

As such, the research team—led by professor Sakata Ichiro  (everyone is surname first)and project professor Fugetsu Bunshi at the University of Tokyo’s Nanotechnology Innovation Research Unit at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute, and project researcher Adavan Kiliyankil Vipin at the Graduate School of Engineering—were able to develop an insoluble nanoparticle obtained from combining cellulose and Hokusai/Prussian blue—when they formed a chemical bond between the pigment and the paper (IE cellulose).

The combined nanoparticle was created by preparing cellulose nanofibers using a process called TEMPO oxidization and securing ferric ions (III) onto them.

They then introduced a bit of hexacyanoferrate (part of the pigment), which adhered to the Prussian blue nanoparticles with a diameter ranging from 5–10 nanometers.

These nanoparticles were very resistant to water and were capable of adsorbing 139 mg of radioactive cesium ion per gram.

Field studies on soil decontamination in Fukushima have been underway since 2016.

A highly effective approach has been to sow and allow plant seeds to germinate inside the sponge made from the nanoparticles, then getting the plants' roots to take up cesium ions from the soil to the sponge.

Water can significantly shorten decontamination times compared to soil, which usually requires extracting cesium from it with a solvent.

Says Vipin: ”The amount of research on cesium decontamination increased after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, but a lot of the studies were limited to being academic and insufficient for practical application in Fukushima. Our research offers practical applications and has high potential for decontamination on an industrial scale not only in Fukushima but also in other cesium-contaminated areas."

Adds Fugetsu: "I was pondering about how Prussian blue immediately gets dissolved in water when I happened upon a Hokusai woodblock print, and how the indigo color remained firmly set in the paper, without bleeding, even after all these years.

"That revelation provided a clue for a solution," he concludes.

And that, my friends, is how Hokusai’s wave… a drawing of water utilizing Hokusai/Prussian Blue pigment, led to a revolutionary way to decontaminate radioactive soil.

Hokusai’s artwork, nearly 200-years-old, continues to inspire.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Giant Robot Battle - Let’s Get Ready To Rummmm (copyright) lllllll!

It’s been two years in the making, but it’s finally on: MegaBot vs Kuratas, U.S.A. vs. Japan.

Back on July 9, 2015, I wrote about the initial events surrounding the patriotic robot battle…. and two-years later, after lots of hype within the fighting robot community—which means most people don’t hear anything about it—both company’s have completed building their war machines and are reading to take on each other.

Scheduled to take place on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the giant robot battle will go on, with live streaming of the event planned.

In 2015 when America’s MegaBot laid down the challenge to Japan’s Suidobashi and its Kuratas robots, they only accepted the challenge if it involved hand-to-hand combat, fearing the America robots company would be “typically American” and just slap some guns on its robot, which would only prove that American robots are attune to the U.S. of America’s 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution. Robots are people, too… right?

"Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It's Super American ... If we're going to win this, I want to punch them to scrap and knock them down to do it," said Kuratas robot designer Kurata Kogoro  (surname first) Kurata, back in 2015.

Despite the desire for metallic hand-to-hand combat, both robots are expected to possess the ability to shoot/fire projectiles at each other.

MegaBot Specifications:
  • Height: 15 feet (4.57 meters);
  • Weight: 12,000 pounds (5,443.1 kilograms);
  • Movement: Caterpillar treads (2);
  • Cabin: Enclosed steel, but currently in a mesh format;
  • Humans: one pilot and one gunner;
  • Armament: high-powered cannons firing 1.3 kilogram paintballs or paint cans at 120 miles per hour (193.1 kilometers per hour;
  • Control: I'm guessing levers, buttons and pedals - akin to a car.
The paint can projectile could probably dent a car panel… but I wonder how much damage that would do to its robotic opponent. Of course, maybe the plan isn’t to damage it with the high-speed paint can, rather to damage it with the paint can contents… which I assume is paint, but who knows… paint getting into the gears or robotic relays… 

Kuratas Specifications:
  • Height: 13-feet (3.96 meters) - Japanese are shorter than the Americans, after all;
  • Weight: 9,000 pounds (4,082.3 kilograms);
  • Movement: One wheel each on four wide legs that raise robot up and down. It's quick;
  • Cabin: Enclosed roll cage with plexiglass covering providing better pilot protection;
  • Humans: One;
  • Armament: Two Gatling BB cannons, firing 6,000 BB pellets per minute; one water cannon (weak) that fires water-propelled missiles;
  • Control: Augmented reality display in cockpit; automated target acquisition; weapon tracking interface to ensure it continues to hit its target. Locked on is locked on.  
The event will be live-streamed on Twitch and starts at 7pm Pacific on Tuesday, October 17 in North America.

Please not that start time is 11AM in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.  

Andrew Joseph

Monday, October 16, 2017

Japanese Egg Roll

I’m sure we’ve all heard about a Chinese egg roll… well, how about a Japanese egg roll, as seen above.

To be honest, I’m not sure how the heck it’s made, except I assume it’s a whole bunch of separated hard-boiled egg yolks squished together with plastic wrap and elongated into the cylindrical shape, and then placed within an egg white version created the same.

The now stuffed egg monstrosity is again rolled tight with plastic wrap… perhaps rolled with a small bamboo sushi making roller, and voila! A Japanese egg roll.

Or… because I can’t read the Japanese on the label, it might just be something else all together… anyone out there confident in their Japanese language skills - please learn me. :)

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hello Kitty Gets Toasted

Sometimes I see the world, and every thing seems cool.

Other times, I look and wonder WTF, Japan?

Above is a two-slice Hello Kitty Toaster that will toast your bread leaving a non-toasted imprinted face of Kitty White, aka Hello Kitty (ハロー・キティ).

You only think I’m smart enough to make this stuff up! Uh… anyone… hello? No?

Selling for US$40.85 on Amazon, or $40.99 at Walmart… or… heck, go take a look for yourself (type in Hello Kitty Toaster in Google), the toaster supposedly has wide slots for fat bread or bagels, and has an exterior that is cool to the touch, which I admit is pretty cool.

There’s also a removable crumb tray (a what? does my toaster have one? Does that man I don’t have to hold it upside down and shake it?), adjustable browning levels.

It’s not a toy! It’s a real effing toaster!

Buy one! Buy two, send me one! I’m poor… I can only afford a roster without a crumb tray.

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Japanese Joke - Japanese Sex

A Japanese couple is having an argument about how to perform highly erotic sex:

Shouting Husband: “Sukitaki, Mojitaka desu!”
Shouting Wife: "Iie! Kowanini no Janku-wa desu!”

The husband replies angrily: Toka-aru! Anjo rodii roumi yakuo desu yo!”

The wife is on her knees now, literally begging: “Mimi nakanu jinga desu. Tinkoiji!”

The husband continues his angry shouting: “Kono-na miaou kina Tinkoiji!”

Get it?!

Can you believe you just sat there reading this Japanese joke… hoping you aren’t missing something in the translation… but wait… there is no translation! It's non-nonsensical!

Should I be concerned about all you horn-dogs out there? It’s like you’ll read anything as long as it’s about sex.

Andrew "like a gaijin in a kimono, the words are pretty much made up to look like real Japanese" Joseph
PS: That's me on the left, and Melissa on the right. We were never a Japanese couple or even a couple.... probably because I was a messy drinker, as evidenced by what I hope is beadlets of beer, and not sweat... though that would have been a reason, too. That and she had more sense than most. Strangely enough, after this photo taken very early in my arrival in Japan in 1990, Melisa never seemed to be alone in a room with me ever. LOL!

Friday, October 13, 2017

No Bull, Philippines Burned Its “Currency” At End Of WWII

During WWII, after Japan occupied the Philippines, the Japanese began to issue its own special money - peso’s.

Usually when one issues a paper bill, it is because it is of a large enough denomination and value.
In this case, the money was worth very little.

Kind of what post WWI Germany’s money was like, where it was actually cheaper to wipe one’s butt with the paper money, than to spend money to purchase toilet paper. Really. 

The Philippine population would use wheelbarrows to haul around the low-value money just  to be able to pay for basic groceries. They referred to the Japan-Philippine Peso as “Mickey Mouse.”

Why would they use the term “Mickey Mouse” as a slang word meaning small-time, amateurish or trivial?

Mickey Mouse as a Walt Disney creation, was hardly trivial, small-time or amateurish. Mickey Mouse - even in the WWII-era, was well known by all Allied forces… kids loved him and his cartoons and comic strips and comic books! What’s wrong with being “Mickey Mouse”?

I have NEVER understood how the term came to mean something so “demeaning”.

Anyhow… ‘Mickey Mouse’ or simply an embarrassment of non-riches, when The Philippines were liberated in 1944, and it tried to get back to a state of normalcy, they had to get rid of all that ‘dirty, dirty money’.

Just as in the photo above, money was gathered into large piles on the streets—in this case via a bulldozer driven by an American GI (general infantry) in the country’s capital of Manila—and burned.

Below, is an example of a 10 peso bill I own.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fukushima Residents Grab ¥500-Million Payout Over Nuclear Disaster

A court in Japan has ordered the government and the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to pay ¥500-million in damages to residents affected by the March 2011 triple meltdown.

I know… many of you are going - Holy fug! ¥500-million… yen… how much is that in real money?

You can look here to find a proper monetary equivalent between the yen and your country… but for my purposes (and I know many of you are lazy, or just don't like linking away from here), it’s CDN $5.564 million or, US $4.448 million.

Wow, Andrew! Each person gets that much money? It’s almost worth getting hit by an earthquake, tsunami and being part of a nuclear dumping ground.

Uh… waitaminute… each person doesn't get that much.

In this case, it’s for one particular class-action suit… one involving 3,800 plaintiffs.

So… let’s see… ¥500,000,000 ÷ 3,800 = ¥131,578.95

That sounds like a lot… how much is ¥131,578.95 in other currencies?

Let’s see:
CDN $1,464.88
US $1,170.54

There ya go! That’s… uh… not a lot of money. I won’t tell you that I once spent more than that at a strip club—but I did. In my defense, I was younger and more stupider than I am now. You know how I know that? I know what I wrote and how I wrote it. And, I know how it looks from many points of view… I’m not here to look good.

This, believe it or not, is the largest of the 30 class-action lawsuits filed by a total of 12,000 Fukushima residents—who have made these lawsuits happen because they feel that their lives were adversely affected by the events of the nuclear disaster—a disaster that they say TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany)—the owner of the dai-ichi power than that is at the crux of the matter—and the Federal government of Japan, should have known that its fail-safes and other preventive measures simply weren’t enough to prevent a triple meltdown at the reactor making it the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 year years previous.

Side trip... was Chernobyl the worst nuclear disaster ever?

If you are the type of person who maps of 1950s USSR, and compares the small villages on the maps on a year-by-year basis, you will notice a now-you-see’um-now-you-don’t thing going on.

Villages there one year, gone the next…with no evidence to suggest otherwise, except that it is long suspected that the Soviet Union often suffered nuclear kerfuffles causing the abject wiping out of whole towns and villages in the turbulent 1950s.

Of course, it might not have been nuclear reactors, and simply nuclear weaponry gone awry. Anyhow, HERE’s an example of one such USSR nuclear meltdown… maybe THIS one, too.

Anyhow… none of this is the point.

The point is, that all of these Fukushima people looking to cash in on a class-action lawsuit against TEPCO for its negligence in preventing the (near) nuclear disaster, basically received US $1,170.54 each… which if you were to divide by the six-and-a-half years it now is after the fact, equates to a not-so staggering US$180.08 for each year's worth of being "put-out". Each. 

Now… that’s not to say that the people in the suit will actually receive that total amount of US$1,170.54… don’t forget the lawyers get their share, too… and Buddha help me, I don’t even want to assume what sort of cut that might be.

Now, I suppose the people involved in the class-action lawsuit realized ahead of time that $1,170.54 is better than nothing, so there is that.

The good out of all this, sarcastically speaking, is that we now know the value of a human life… the loss of dignity et al, is US$1,170.54. Less lawyer’s fees of course. Don't spend it all in one place.

I wonder if you have to pay taxes on this windfall? You do in the U.S., and I believe the U.K., but you do NOT in Canada. Guess which one does NOT suck?

I'm not 100% sure (less lawyer's fees), but I believe in Japan, that class action settlement windfalls  come under its "occasional income" bracket, and are thus taxable.  

So really... do not spend it all in one place.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Newspaper accounts were actually unclear if the ¥500,000,000 pay-out was per person or for the entire group of 3.800 plaintiffs per THIS suit.
If had been per person, it would have been a payout (less lawyer fees) of US$4,448,052... which is what the REAL headline would have been. It wasn't, because it wasn't. 
PPS: Come to Canada... no taxes on windfalls received from class action lawsuits re: improper safety measures around nuclear reactors... and no need to worry about nuclear reactors going stupid, owing to our use of a safer type of uranium.    

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

World Mental Health Day, Week, Month, Year

It figures.

My computer at work decided to blow a gasket or whatever the computer equivalent is, and stopped performing, instead believing it was 1978 in Studio 54, flashing a strobe of light on the screen, nearly sending me into an epileptic seizure.

Anyhow... Tuesday, October 10, 2017 was World Mental Health Day...

While I appear symptom free, and am, I know far too many people who suffer from some form of mental health, ranging from within my immediate family, my wife's family, my extended family, friends, and even co-workers who were brave enough to tell me about their own struggles.

While I can confirm that I did indeed date one woman with obvious mental health issues while I was in Japan, I suspect there were more. There would have had to been. I just didn't know what the signs were at that time. Hindsight points to there being more than one. 

I have a much better opinion on what signs to see nowadays, but I'm sure many people are quite adept at hiding their symptoms from the general public until such time as they can't.

Their is still a social stigma involved for people who suffer from a mental health issue. And that from people who do not suffer from a mental health issue.

Everyone just assumes you can just shake it off... or let your smile be your umbrella when depression reigns.

It's not that simple, and shame to all the people who believe it is.

It's also not as simple as "just take a pill" for it.

That's caveman thinking, I'm sorry to say.

People seem to believe that mental health illness is one of those "invisible" illnesses... but physical pain can accompany such illnesses as depression or anxiety, via sweating, heart palpitations, headaches, stomach cramps or problems with skin, hair and fingernails. There could also be behavior changes.

For those of you who have trouble getting out of bed... waking up but staying in bed, it could depression. It could also just be you being tired, but when it happens repeatedly, and only on work days, well...

At work, I've noticed people who walk around with their eyes focused on the carpet, never looking up as people pass by. I've wanted to say hello, but feared disturbing them, as they obviously wanted to be left alone.

Is that depression? Maybe. Maybe it's a social anxiety disorder. Maybe it's just shyness. Maybe it's just a disconnect with the world as they ponder some other issue that's none of my business.

I walk around 99% of the time with a smile on my face. It is one of those endearing traits that probably make some want to punch me in the face as much as it makes others want to engage in a real conversation.

I am so much more than a "hey, how are you"... I'll give you my whole life story if you aren't careful.

But mostly, I ask the questions that give one the chance to provide a real answer and, failing that, will probe with a more poignant one. In other words, I try to bring people out of their shell.

But can you do that with depression or other forms of mental illness? I'm not sure. I know I failed miserably in my attempts in the past—mostly because I had no idea what I was looking at, and had no clue how to respond to it.

That's most of us, I'm afraid.

Let me change things up here regarding mental health. It's not just the victim's problem.

I do feel strongly about this... doctors and their patients who suffer from mental illness all seem to think that the sufferer has it bad... and they do... but let me tell ya, it ain't effin' easy knowing someone who is afflicted with mental health issues.

I have been treated like crap... and while the "victim" might eventually resolve their mental health issues, everyone around them is left to pick up the pieces... often because the sufferer has no recollection of saying or doing what they did.

I've had stuff done to me, said about me, lies spread to others... stuff that is just horrible...  

How do you apologize for something and mean it, when you have no recollection of having said or done it?

Even if they do apologize, it can feel hollow because without knowing what happened—even if told—the apology never seems "heartfelt".

Granted, that's up to the individual to forgive and forget. I don't forget. That crap eats at me every day... when things are said that have no meaning to the ex-sufferer, but if they had a proper memory, they would never say it again for fear of upsetting their friend.

But they say it... oblivious to whatever may have happened before. it doesn't affect them because it's an innocuous comment... but to you... it's another painful reminder.

Did you know that when a person who is bipolar takes the right medication to control their manic-depression, while it is a great thing for the person suffering, it's not necessarily as great for those closest... as they question if the new and improved person is the same person they liked before.

Hells, what if you met someone who was all fun and games, but unbeknownst to you in a manic high? With the medication that controls these unsettling mood swings, and the happy high never rears its head again, are they the same person? No.

Is that good or is that bad? I suppose it depends on who you are asking.

While World Mental Health Day is important... to recognize that there are people suffering from mental health issues... that it can affect anyone at anytime...

While we should all do our best to identify those around us who may be suffering from a mental health issue, I do believe we should also take care of those who have had to put up with the issues of someone with a mental health issue.

I'm just saying that there is always more than one victim when it comes to mental health issues, and always more than one person who could use a kind word. I would just like the mental health professionals to be aware of that.

You can help people get their mental health issues under control, but if there are outside social issues, won't those also have an affect on the sufferer's overall mental health?

Make sure you talk to all parties who could be involved in a mental health situation. Maybe more than one person could use some advice or help, too. 

Andrew Joseph
PS: My work computer had the blog I was originally going to present here... all written and edited... just not uploaded yet. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


It's Thanksgiving here in Canada... my family already celebrated it on Sunday, so I'm well into eating leftover turkey meat on Monday as I write this...

So allow me to be as brief as possible (for me), and tell you about the newest invention to come out of Japan since 2012... okay... it came out in 2012, and I only just heard about it today a few minutes ago when some crazy History Channel program made a 10-second mention of it...

It's the SpeechJammer, a gun-like device that is pointed at a talkative person... disable their speech process and hopefully they will shut the eff up.

It's a real thing.

While the Japanese inventors misspell the word "speech" with "speach" within their YouTube video (just once, mind you), I was intrigued by the device... I just don't know how practical it is in real life.

I wonder, however, if some government agency hasn't purchased the SpeechJammer for themselves or hired the inventors to come and work for them for some spy-related nefarious purposes.

I don't believe it can be used on Twitter commenters, which may explain why some people prefer to tweet from their oval office washroom at 6AM, than make real speeches in public.

For the full details on the SpeechJammer, click HERE.

Kan... uh... tur... uh.. key?
Andrew Joseph