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Steve FabricantOct. 19, 2014 - 05:01PM JST
A few years ago when hybrid vehicles were becoming numerous, there were questions raised about the lifespan and re-usability of their batteries. They seem to be lasting longer than most engineers expected, but I recall reading that when their capacity becomes degraded to the point that they are unsuitable for the vehicles, they could still be used to backup intermittent electricity sources such as solar. I envisioned mountains of ex-Prius batteries wired to the grid through giant inverters. I wonder what happened to that concept?? And BTW, I don't believe there is any real problem with the "quality" of the solar power that is fed into the grid since it all gets conditioned by electronics.
Posted in: Green power floods Japan grid as premium prices bite
Steve FabricantSep. 19, 2014 - 09:51AM JST
Circumcision would not be an effective public health measure in Japan because of the very low prevalence of HIV here. It also has been shown to be ineffective for transmission by gay men, which is the main reservoir of infection in Japan. As for its efficacy in other settings, by citing a particular situation in Zimbabwe kchoze obscures the fact that when it is done properly and men abstain for at least 6 weeks afterward, it is very effective in reducing heterosexual transmission. One issue is that circumcised men are more likely to engage in risky sex, and in some countries HIV has been transmitted through blood during the operation.
Posted in: Foreskin clip joints take unwary males for a ride
Steve FabricantAug. 25, 2014 - 02:44PM JST
All the kiddies and nannies were found in a condominium. Surely a misnomer!
Posted in: Interpol seeks clues to Thai 'baby factory'
Steve FabricantAug. 22, 2014 - 09:54PM JST
It is excellent baseball and a hell of a lot less boring than watching MLB. I admire the fine sportsmanship. If that's some Japanese aberration, I'm all for it.
Posted in: Fanatic fans oblivious to sleazy side of Koshien high school baseball
Steve FabricantAug. 15, 2014 - 09:15AM JST
If this is really such a dangerous part of the world, the US military should definitely not be bringing their dependents here. The whole establishment might have been suitable for the colonial era up until 1972, but since then has just been a relaxing overseas posting ("deployment" sounds too serious) costing both countries billions of dollars a year that mainly goes back to big contractors. Give some of the land back that is now used for housing, schools, and recreation and maybe there would be less objection to the new base.
Posted in: Buoys floated off Futenma replacement site in Okinawa
Steve FabricantAug. 14, 2014 - 08:48PM JST
"When everything is said and done, it's the price for the losing the war."
A truly simple and simpleminded equation. I haven't heard about any Vietnamese bases in the USA, and that only ended 40 years ago, not 69.
Steve FabricantJul. 08, 2014 - 08:25PM JST
Power went out at 9:45 am in my part of Naha and is still out at 8:30 pm. We just drove around and it appears it was just local, about 1-km radius in the area bordering Haebaru. Hope it comes back before the fridge gets too warm, but we enjoyed a candlelight dinner.
Posted in: Typhoon sweeps across Okinawa; 10 injured, 1 dead
Steve FabricantJul. 03, 2014 - 11:14AM JST
I'm waiting for the movie. Someone in Hollywood must be working on the screenplay right now.
Posted in: Nature journal retracts stem cell paper
Steve FabricantJun. 25, 2014 - 11:24PM JST
The 50% increase in the road tax is a major shafting of people who bought a Kei expecting that they could save money over the life of the car by giving up some performance and luxury. The size and performance restrictions were intended precisely so they did not compete directly with larger cars, just as motorcycles do not compete with cars for market share. So to reduce the cost savings in order to make them less competitive is really backasswards policy.
Posted in: Tiny cars leaving Japan?
Steve FabricantMay. 26, 2014 - 09:41AM JST
There was a student/teacher group in Okinawa and Tokyo last week from Lapland! Santa Claus will have some special goodies this Xmas.
Posted in: Japanese retailers target new big spenders - tourists
Steve FabricantMay. 22, 2014 - 12:45PM JST
Agree with WilliB ^^. Kinko's, a massively successful chain of photocopy shops in the US, has survived a long time, although who knows what really goes on behind the counter late at night? My online bank changes its name every few years and that's just confusing as hell.
Posted in: Kinki University to change pervy English name
Steve FabricantMay. 15, 2014 - 09:32AM JST
@Jimizo: This is not a racist remark, but Japanese who have not lived abroad have not needed to develop the reflexes and instincts that Europeans have to guard against personal crimes, and many of the criminals probably understand that and target them. I think the warnings are appropriate and I hope that they will be followed.
Posted in: Japanese World Cup visitors warned about crimes in Brazil
Steve FabricantApr. 08, 2014 - 08:40PM JST
With all due respect to Car Talk, this case has the fingerprints of Dewey, Newcomb, and Howe all over it.
Posted in: 79 U.S. sailors sue TEPCO over radiation during Operation Tomodachi
Steve FabricantApr. 01, 2014 - 10:13AM JST
To single out the manufacture of solar PV equipment is disingenuous, since the production of all materials used in industry has unwholesome side effects. Thousands of tons of rare and exotic metals have to go into nuclear reactors and gas turbines, and they all are mined somewhere and refined by processes that may produce toxic products. It's a wash on that score.
Posted in: Climate change boosts risk of war, hunger, floods: U.N. report
Steve FabricantMar. 31, 2014 - 07:56PM JST
@ Disillusioned - I wouldn't call the report inflammatory, and even if it is, it's about time someone lit a fire under the deniers and fossil fuel interests that claim it is too expensive to do anything significant. @Bertie - isn't it ironic that China is moving to the leading spot not only in renewables, but with a big move toward "clean coal" with the world's first large-scale demonstration of carbon sequestration. Very expensive and surely to be supplanted by better technology, but at least they are actually doing something about the problems they have caused. An American energy giant is partnering with them, incidentally.
Steve FabricantMar. 31, 2014 - 07:40PM JST
Too bad that such advanced technology was not available to avoid the collision in the first place. Sad.
Posted in: Robot sub searches for bodies of 8 Chinese missing after ship collision
Steve FabricantMar. 26, 2014 - 07:42PM JST
I was just in HK and dined with a local acquaintance and my family at an Indian vegetarian restaurant. We were all disappointed with the food and I the waiter was worse than useless. I paid by credit card and did not notice the "Tip" line so automatically only paid the meal amount because my friend said that tipping is pretty optional there. (Some restaurants add 10% service, others none). The waiter leaned over me when he returned the card and asked if everyone enjoyed the food. I said, 'some of it was edible', which seemed to answer his unspoken question, I would not have tipped him even if I had seen the blank line.
Posted in: Japanese restaurants in New York introduce ban on tipping
Steve FabricantMar. 05, 2014 - 07:40AM JST
Lots of agreement AND disagreement here, but one common idea is that teachers should know how to teach a language. That means (duhh!) stop hiring untrained people, no matter how little they will work for. From what I've seen they do more harm than good. The lousy ESL system in Japanese schools isn't going to change quickly, but how about online pre-hiring interviews that also test teaching skills? Seems like a no-brainer.
Posted in: Ideally, should English teachers at schools in Japan be native speakers? Can non-native English speakers do just as well or better?
Steve FabricantMar. 03, 2014 - 03:02PM JST
Most important for hurricane/typhoon resistance, besides enough strength to resist direct wind force, is maintaining the integrity of the structure so wind does not increase the internal pressure. Flying objects are not a big issue. People here seem to prefer reinforced concrete for that integrity since even roofs can be joined integrally to walls. But it is also amazing that there are still so many flimsily-built postwar houses still standing here.
For earthquake, I don't see sliding joints or dampers used but I have not observed any very big buildings going up. It was mentioned that building codes are uniform in Japan, so adding typhoon resistance in vulnerable places like Okinawa must involve cost if not compromise. In small houses the commonly-used grade beams probably offer more protection than footings when the walls have plenty of shear strength. I don't know what Shindo they are designed for, but I do wonder at all the apartment buildings with open ground floor parking.
Posted in: M6.7 earthquake hits north of Okinawa
Steve FabricantMar. 03, 2014 - 12:13PM JST
@nahaman - OMG, you mean pandabelle might have been mistaken? And maybe she was thinking about how timber-frame structures sometimes still used in mainland Japan can resist earthquakes but are more vulnerable to typhoons than reinforced concrete?
In any case, when I see new construction in Okinawa, the concrete and rebar are not spared and new buildings (even 2-story residences) look like they will be here for a long time, come earthquake or typhoon. The tallest building in Okinawa is only 28 stories, IIRC, and most are much lower.
Nov. 01, 2014 - 10:09AM JST
Alex80: "And Apple and Samsung will lose amid intense competition from Chinese brands"
In fantasy land,…
Posted in: Sony's quarterly loss balloons on mobile woes
Nov. 01, 2014 - 10:08AM JST
The stand-out for me in this story is 7,000,000 pigs dead in US and 400,000 here…
Posted in: Sick swine, looming transport squeeze, Ebola fears poised to send prices skyward
Matthew Adam Arnold
Nov. 01, 2014 - 10:06AM JST
TBS's site had a short video of the deceased boar. The markings and fur certainly make…
Posted in: 6 people bitten by wild boar in Tokyo
Nov. 01, 2014 - 10:05AM JST
He should have got double that! He will be out and no doubt recycling his twisted…
Posted in: Man gets 7 years in prison for kidnapping, confining 9-year-old girl
"No memory" , lol. The typical Japanese forgiveness for drunken behaviour in play
Posted in: ASDF member arrested for pushing man onto train tracks