Tokyo Ramen according to the NY Times

January 30th, 2010 No comments
Categories: food, Tokyo

15th Anniversary of Bad Design & Construction Catastrophe in Kobe

January 17th, 2010 1 comment

1995-01-17 05:46+09, fifteen years ago this morning, a major earthquake hit Kobe and a very large number of impressive structures designed and built by, serious, credentialed adults collapsed, killing over 6,000 people in a land obsessed with disaster preparedness. My friends who were there survived, the city has recovered well, but the impact it had on the local economy and Japan at large is still being felt today. As the old saying goes, earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.

We were living in Menlo Park, California at the time, and I had just welcomed my first official partner, a former Apple Japan employee, to my consultancy, something I should have done six years earlier when Third Culture Enterprises began. The earthquake severely damaged his father’s business and he had to return to Japan immediately, ending our partnership. A year later we moved away from Silicon Valley to a suburb of Sacramento and within a year of that my primary Japanese consulting contract was canceled. Just as the worldwide web began to boom, my career went into a tailspin.

For a spoiled first-world 白人 with all the advantages of a good education, family and health, any blame for career setbacks rests with me. Today, considering the negative impact an earthquake on the other side of the globe had on my life, the trauma of those whose lives are at the epicenter of these catastrophes is unimaginable.

Architecture matters.

Categories: Uncategorized

Google Japanese IME

January 16th, 2010 No comments

Google Japanese Input product icon

I’ve started playing with the Google Japanese input method first released last month. Even in beta it is stable and fast enough to use as my primary IME, and the dictionaries built from Google’s search index seem to work well. When I tried inputting my name, the first suggestion it offered after typing 「じょえ」 was French chef ジョエル・ロブション (Joël Robuchon), something that would never have happened out of the box with Kotoeri.


Categories: computer, Japan, software

Map of Science

November 1st, 2009 No comments
Categories: science, Uncategorized

John Hodgman on Jock vs Nerd culture

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Lot’s of lovely quotes from the delightful Mr. Hodgman in an interview with a local Kansas City news blog:

Jockdom is very noble. It’s not deliberative. It’s certainly the best way to win wars. It’s the best way to motivate teams of people to fulfill a goal — not just war, but getting things done. The most important way to motivate a factory floor. But as you know, we’re not as much of a manufacturing society as we were before. China and other big industrial nations are rewarding their nerds and technicians rather than creating a culture that makes fun of them — it would be wise for us to embrace the book-smart as much as our culture has traditionally embraced the street-smart, the jock-smart. I’m not saying nerds must have their revenge; I’m just saying the time for wedgies is at an end.

Categories: culture

Publishers Like Time Inc.

October 3rd, 2009 No comments
Categories: Uncategorized

Jane Smiley on English majors vs economists

September 8th, 2009 No comments

An English major rants about the ludicrous disparity between common sense and economic theory in Other Economists in the Room:

…if I come to your country with my enormously expensive army and I steal, or attempt to steal, your oil, in order to make it into gasoline and blow ever more pollution of all kinds into the air, then the cost of the war (in lives, money, social, and environmental damage), the moral cost of the theft of someone else’s resource, and the ultimate cost to the planet and its living beings of global warming will not, according to economics, be factored into the cost of the oil, because those things are “externals” and are considered to be free. Well, they are free, to the shareholders of Exxon, but they are not free to the planet. You would think that economists, as human beings, would look around once in a while and say, “Gosh, something ‘external’ is going on.” But they don’t seem to.

Categories: politics

CIGNA exec on why the health insurance industry is so scared of the “public option.”

July 11th, 2009 No comments

Bill Moyers Journal interview of former CIGNA public relations executive:

BILL MOYERS: Why is public insurance, a public option, so fiercely opposed by the industry?

WENDELL POTTER: The industry doesn’t want to have any competitor. In fact, over the course of the last few years, has been shrinking the number of competitors through a lot of acquisitions and mergers. So first of all, they don’t want any more competition period. They certainly don’t want it from a government plan that might be operating more efficiently than they are, that they operate. The Medicare program that we have here is a government-run program that has administrative expenses that are like three percent or so.

BILL MOYERS: Compared to the industry’s–

WENDELL POTTER: They spend about 20 cents of every premium dollar on overhead, which is administrative expense or profit. So they don’t want to compete against a more efficient competitor.

Even Howard Dean doesn’t believe a single payer system like the successful ones in Canada, Great Britain and here in Japan is politically feasible, but we should at the very least insist congress legislates a public option. Contact your congress-critter, write a letter to your local paper, etc. as a counter to the insurance industry’s massive lobbying effort.

Categories: health, politics

Less is more

July 11th, 2009 No comments

Permanent diet may equal longer life – Los Angeles Times.

It also isn’t clear whether caloric restriction would extend human lives by very much, Phelan said. He has combined results from animal studies with data on men on the Japanese island of Okinawa who ate 17% fewer calories than men in Tokyo. He calculated that reducing intake by 35% would extend the human life span by just two years.

“The trade-off just isn’t worth it,” said Phelan, who said he personally would have a hard time giving up doughnuts.

I think the issue is how many doughnuts.

One of the fringe benefits of maintaining a vigorous exercise routine like long distance cycling is that you need a lot of fuel and thus can justify eating just about anything. All that extra oxidation must be adding to the wear-and-tear though, and some days it feels as indulgent as indolence.

Categories: exercize, food, health

ATOK 2009 for Mac does English input

July 3rd, 2009 No comments

At long last, a text input method that brings a Japanese-style Input Method Editor to English:

英語もかしこく便利に入力できる|日本語入力システム ATOK 2009 for Mac.

Phonetic, clairvoyant text entry is what makes Japanese mobile phone typing so fast and popular, but there has never really been anything of equivalent sophistication for western languages.

I’m looking forward to seeing ATOK become a multi-lingual text input system–I remember back in 1990 suggesting to Apple’s Developer Technical Support group that they implement this in Kotoeri so that non-Japanese engineers could test for inline input and double-byte compatibility using their native language.

this looks so very benri!

Categories: Japan, software