Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Medical Japes

Looking through my 'to blog' bookmarks folder I saw one from the end of last month that read, "Man poses as doctor for 30 years". "How ridiculous", I thought. "Let's open this bookmark and see what really happened."

So it turns out that a man posed as a doctor for 30 years. Hasegawa Yukio started in 1980, and since 1994 he's been working at a clinic in Chiba once a week, seeing 20 to 30 patients a day, "mostly as an orphopedist" we're told, like it really matters at that point.

Hasegawa was earning about 15 million yen a year throughout the last three decades, and is now 65 years old. He was arrested last month, but I really don't see why. Surely if he made it through 30 years of medical service he must be pretty good. Let him carry on, I say! Make him an honorary doctor.

Aso Taro: Rebirth

The soundtrack of Battle Royale. The imagery of Evangelion. Spliced with the legendary figure of Aso Taro.

Holy Fukuda, it just doesn't get better than this.

If you're an Evangelion fan then I'd very strongly recommend watching the whole thing, but if you are especially impatient then the compulsory viewing is from 2.00 to 2.45. But seriously, watch the whole thing.

It's so epic.

Monday, 8 December 2008

North Korea One Wedgie Away From Telling Its Mum On Japan

Giorgio has blogged about North Korea's decision to pointedly not recognise Japan at the International Nuke-Talks (as they're officially known) held in Beijing, in the geo-political equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and singing "la la la I can't hear you". And Reuters has run the story too, so we know he's not making it up.

This act of drama-student level petulance has given us the clear-cut Quote Of The Week! The North Korean Foreign Ministry's statement said:

We will neither treat Japan as a party to the talks nor deal with it even if it impudently appears in the conference room, lost to shame

Funniest statement by a Foreign Ministry ever.

Old Photos

One of my favourite sites on the internet is a photo-blog called Old Photos of Japan. They post, predictably, old photos of Japan. Click either of these pictures to go there.

Kobe, 1890s

The photos range from the 1860s to the 1930s and cover both the cities and the countryside.

Asakusa, 1920s

It's a very laid-back blog, and the photos are absolutely fantastic. You could spend hours looking through it.

LDP In The Shit

Oh look, Aso's cabinet is sinking faster than a granite sand-castle, who could have forseen that? (Answer: almost anyone.) In the last month, his cabinet's approval rating has halved, falling from 40.5% to 20.9%, and his disapproval rate has increased by half, from 42.2% to 61.3%.

By contrast, the DPJ's support in the next election now outweighs the LDP's, 40% (a ten point increase) to 24% (an eight point drop). As for the role of Prime Minister, Ozawa's support is now at 36% (a fourteen point increase) to Aso's 29% (a twenty-one point drop). So, not only are the public losing faith in Aso, but they're actually warming to Ozawa. Incredibly. All these figures are from the Yomiuri poll, but the Asahi poll shows similar figures.

Obviously this is all very bad news for the LDP. I mean, obviously. I wrote before about how the approval rating spike with the change of leadership would wear off, but it's only taken around two months. It all seems to be down to Aso's decision to not call a general election, and his economic shenanigans, like postponing the submission of a second extra budget (a decision which got a 55.7% disapproval rating). Silly, silly Aso.

Aso's "why does everyone hate me? face"

So where to now? Well apparently some LDP politicans are thinking of rebellion. But it looks like that's not going to happen before a general election. We'll have to wait for a probable January election, and if the LDP manage to scrape through that then the party will most likely grudgingly hold together, complaining all the while. If the DPJ scrape a win, however, it might be curtains for the LDP.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

New Blog Feature!

I've put a slideshow on the sidebar which features pictures from the new Osu! Tatakae! Nippon! Flickr account. The account will host my Ueto Aya pictures, and the slideshow pictures should be clickable if you want to see any of them at their proper, civilised resolution.

I've only uploaded 241 photos thus far, but I'll be uploading more over the next few days. So if you're disappointed by the size of the photostream bear in mind there's plenty more where that lot came from. As in, thousands more.

No seriously, THOUSANDS.

Special note for one of my readers in particular: the photostream is not for leching over Aya, it is for admiring her. You know who you are.

Happy browsing!

Update: ok the first slideshow only cycles the 18 last photos uploaded. But I've embedded a second slideshow further down which will cycle the whole lot if you hit play. And that's enough faffing around with the blog layout for tonight.

Max's Vision Of The Apocalypse #3652

Here's a thing I've found out while pointedly not doing the writing I need to do: Japanese scientists now have the capability to actually create Jurassic Park.

Ironically on the same day that Michael Crichton died, some scientists at the government-funded Riken research institute cloned a dead, frozen mouse. This means that they could potentially clone woolly mammoths, and eventually dinosaurs. Maybe.

You see the problem is that so far they can only do this by taking a cell nucleus from dead tissue and implanting it into the egg of another animal which will then give birth to it. So they'll have to find an animal that is capable of giving birth to a baby mammoth. Or Pterodactyl.

One of the scientists has said that bringing dinosaurs and extinct animals back to life isn't a good idea, but he is a pussy and has probably been fired already for his dandyfied, ball-less ways. And it looks like the Riken scientists are set on the army-of-dinosaurs goal anyway. I mean, we've got guns and aeroplanes, what have the dinosaurs got? Nothing. So what could possibly go wrong?

Ueto Aya Named Best Dressed

Last week the 37th Annual Best Dresser Awards were handed out by the Japan Men's Fashion Unity, whoever the hell they are. Ueto Aya won the entertainment category (and then some nobodies won in the sports category and special category and other categories that no one really cares about).

She wore a cream Versace dress to the ceremony, of which she said "I thought it suited my age and it gave me energy". The picture that was published with this story (above) was entirely too small, so I've uploaded here a couple of pictures that show off her award-winning dressing abilities.

[click big, by the way]

Obviously, "a couple" in terms of Aya pictures is always at least four.


Apparently, a few days ago Aso told Obuchi Yuko point blank to her face "you were included in this cabinet for electoral reasons".

Everyone knew that she was given her position as a gesture, nothing more, already. For a start, she was the youngest person appointed to a cabinet position post-war, becoming Minister of State in Charge of the Declining Birth Rate at the age of 34. She's very popular, not only because she's young and female, but because of her previous newscasting career, and because her father, Keizo, was prime minister for two years.

Also, her position is a bit of a joke. Minister in Charge of Declining Birth Rate? You'll probably be aware that Japan has a huge problem with their aging population. Their birth rate is one of the lowest out of all developed nations - 7.8 per 1000, compared to the UK's 10.6, or the US with 14.2. Plus they have the longest-living population in the world, with the male life expectancy at 79 and female at 85. And that's not the average lifespan, it's the life expectancy. If you don't live at least that long then you've failed.

So in ten years time about 30% of the population will have retired, and the pension-tension will destroy the country. That's ostensibly why Obuchi was appointed to this new cabinet position. Interestingly, she herself only has one child. Pretty weak, right? She's going to have to really start churning them out if she wants to make any difference.

My point is, it's just spiteful for Aso to tell her that to her face. Maybe he hadn't made his quota for pissing people off, or maybe he was just feeling particularly bastardous. Either way, I can't help but wonder whether such a person is really fit to be Prime Minister.

Aso's "cut-throat electoral expediency face"

Saturday, 6 December 2008


Today's video is a performance by The Human Slinky. It's kind of awesome.

The panel reactions are priceless.

Mangafying The Classics

Do you like reading manga? Do you also like reading landmark works of political and economic thought? Then you'll love the new manga version of Das Kapital!

Panel from Das Kapital

Marx's famous treatise on capitalism and commerce is now on sale in all good Japanese bookstores as a funky manga. This comes as the best-seller charts are full of anti-capitalist books, such as Mitani Hideki's smash hit bourgeois-bashing romp, Greedy Capitalism and the Self Destructiveness of Wall Street, and the republishing of Kanikosen, a bleak and violent tale of worker exploitation from 1929.

Next month: Aristotle's Poetics told through the medium of a high-school love triangle between a teenage girl, a robot cat and a super-saiyan, with Ultraman as The Principal! (unconfirmed)

Oh No, Not Again! [turns to Camera 1 with a shrug]

Aso literally can't help insulting everyone. It's looking increasingly like he's the Japanese Prince Phillip, except he was elected by a staggering majority, and his 'gaffes' aren't single-sentence slips of the tongue so much as 30-minute speeches in front of the entirety of the media.

He's only just recently apologised for his latest pearl of wisdom, a week after he rammed it down Japan's throat. On the 20th of November he was in a meeting with ministers to talk about economic policy, and whilst he was "trying to comment on the need for preventative medicine and healthy lifestyles", he started talking about the elderly and how it is their own fault they get ill because they don't exercise enough.

They're hobbling around and constantly going to the doctor. I am paying taxes. Why should I pay money for those who lazily eat and drink and do nothing?

Why indeed.

Aso's "apologetic face"

What's more disturbing is the response to this. Obviously people like Hatoyama, Secretary General of the DPJ have been sniping him in newspapers with remarks like, "I can't help but wonder whether such a person is really fit to be Prime Minister". Hey, just tell it to us straight, Hatoyama! Don't sit on the fence. But get this: Kawamura, Chief Cabinet Secretary, has "played down Aso's latest remark", according to the Associated Press. Not quite. What he actually said was "There are likely to be more such remarks. That is part of his charm."

In case you didn't catch that, he said "There are likely to be more such remarks. That is part of his charm."


Friday, 5 December 2008

Stupidity Or Unfathomable Optimism?

Ibaraki prefecture are spending $268 million on an airport which no-one plans to use. Details here.

Money-Grabbing Weasels

So the Health, Labour and Welfare Minister, Masuzoe Yoichi, yesterday advised the Finance Minister, Nakagawa Shoichi, to raise the tax on tobacco to help pay for social security. An increase of 3 yen per cigarette will give them 220 billion yen off the stupid target they set in the first place that they now want to foist off on innocent smokers.

Masuzoe can go to hell. Mild Sevens and ramen-ya are the two things that are keeping Japan's stressed salaryman population sane. And you just can't increase the tax on cigarettes. That would raise the price of a 20-pack to 360 yen. That's simply uncivilised. Don't become like Britain, Japan!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Coda Risa Verdict

Coda Risa is going to jail! They don't have a large enough font on here for me to give you an unhappy face that does justice to the situation. I'll give it a go though:


...no. Just not large enough.

For those of you who haven't been following the trials, Coda Risa was arrested early in November for possession of 0.7 grams of cannabis and 0.027 grams of stimulants. It was fucking scandalous (at least in my opinion). Most of London's population quite literally shit more drugs than that per person every Sunday morning. Coda stupidly managed to implicate her boyfriend, the tennis player Miyao Joji, by saying that it was for them to use together, so they dragged him in for questioning. The first hearing was yesterday and Coda was found guilty, and sentenced to 18 months, suspended for three years.

And for those of you who don't know who Coda Risa is, she was a very famous AV star before giving up in February. Since then she's been working in a hostess bar in Roppongi.

And for those of you who don't know the terms "AV", "hostess bar" and "Roppongi"... um... better just Google them. In the privacy of your bedroom.

Funky Barcodes

D-Barcode are a Japanese company that have come up with an original way to inject some sunshine into the tired, self-destructive life of consumers. They are hired by packaging manufacturers to make small additions to the barcodes of their products that turn them into cute pictures.

The pictures don't always have anything to do with the product, they're just mini pieces of art.

Pretty fucking cute, right?

Click for big

Exoskeletal (Junction At The Railroad Delayed)

If I were a writer for a rubbish tabloid I'd be obligated to open with the line "It could be something from a Gundam episode...". Thanks to blogging I've been able to not only take a shot at tabloids in my opening line, but use a title from a Mars Volta lyric too. God bless The Internet.

Toyota's I-Foot

Anyway, I never knew this, but Toyota developed the I-Foot in 2005. It's one of a variety of robotic vehicles that have been coming out over the last few years. Unfortunately we probably won't see any of these in the West due to the lack of a significant mecha-obsession.

I-Foot controls

Its top speed is only 1mph, but it's nimble enough to climb staircases. Albeit staircases with huge stairs. Its agility and cat-like grace of movement were illustrated at the Tokyo Motor Show, where they got it to dance. Here's a clip:

By contrast, the Land Walker is terrifying. It may be clumsy, rickety and only fire tennis balls, but it's freaking massive. It genuinely looks slightly like an AT-ST:

Don't know who makes the Land Walker, but apparently it costs $315,000.

I wrote previously about a robot that you jack into your brain, and it turns out it was developed two years ago. It also turns out you don't jack it into your brain, it just reads the electric signals from your skin and anticipates what your next moves will be, making it even more terrifying than before. Here's a video explaining how it works, with some of the best Engrish subtitles ever:

That concludes this robot-roundup.