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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.
Steve FabricantMar. 03, 2014 - 11:42AM JST
@samuraiblue, thanks for the correction. I think the Shindo number in Naha was 3.7
@Weirauch - quite an insulting remark, so you must have facts to back it up.
Steve FabricantMar. 03, 2014 - 09:51AM JST
Elbuda - the M scale used in Japan is not the same as the usual Richter moment scale we are more familiar with. There is no simple direct relationship, except that M6.7 is a lot less scary than 6.7 Richter. I am in Naha and it certainly woke me up, but no damage, panic, or sirens. As far as structural design is concerned, it would seem that anything built to withstand a major typhoon can survive a large earthquake, and vice versa.
Steve FabricantMar. 02, 2014 - 12:43PM JST
"The system, which developers are hoping to have ready for Christmas 2015, can be connected to an iPod or other gadget and would allow the user to navigate through software programs using facial expressions, such as a raised eyebrow, a stuck-out tongue, a wiggle of the nose or by clenching teeth."
I just can't wat to see this in use.
Posted in: Japanese researchers testing tiny ear computer
Steve FabricantFeb. 26, 2014 - 08:00PM JST
The conventional wisdom that hackers don't bother developing viruses for Apple OS/Macs has been floating around since the days when it was true that Apple commanded only a small percentage of the PC market. Now that has not been the case for years, so why do people still believe it? Having said that, I do appreciate how relatively bug-free Apple stuff is compared to the Windows.machines that I do most of my work on. No viruses, knock wood, but crashes aplenty and incessant MS updates and bug fixes. So fix them already!.
Posted in: Apple releases security fix for Macs after iOS flaw
Steve FabricantFeb. 12, 2014 - 12:56PM JST
@atrueokinawan: well said. Who can justify the private beaches, marina and golf courses, and the billions of US dollars it costs to keep the whole establishment going on forever? OK, some who actually get deployed to a combat zone are putting their xxxes on the line but most are putting them on barstools. The occupation of Okinawa is colonialism at best, and provocation of China at worst, and let's hope it doesn't come to the war that all the politicians and generals seem to be itching for.
@Mikesbo - Shintoshin is not my idea of a great redevelopment scheme either, yet plenty of Okinawans like it just fine. You are seeing corporate ownership like Main Place and the pachinkos and chain restaurants, but that's just Japan for you. If you look closer there are hundreds of locally-owned businesses, and the Okinawan people living there are enjoying a taste of big-city life, which is entirely their choice. It is clearly prospering, as would other land returned by the US military. The locals who are in opposition are getting rent, which they would also earn under different ownership. Bar owners will survive, those who outlast the permanent curfew.
Posted in: Hundreds rally against Okinawa base move as Kennedy arrives
Steve FabricantFeb. 12, 2014 - 09:28AM JST
Oh yeah - really one-sided, those noisy antibase Okinawans. Like the tens of thousands of Americans and enormous contracting firms that make comfortable easy livings here don't ever try to exert influence through their Congressional representatives and lobbyists?
Steve FabricantFeb. 05, 2014 - 07:40AM JST
@Open Minded - the flus shot in Japan is only one dose. It is theoretically possible that another vaccine for a new strain could be introduced in the same season, but that doesn't happen often.
Posted in: Health minister down with flu
Steve FabricantFeb. 04, 2014 - 08:14PM JST
Can only speak for my time in Okinawa--- when I realized that these were the loveliest people in the world and I was happy to be among them.
Posted in: Foreigners reveal when they felt they really 'got this whole Japan thing'
Steve FabricantFeb. 04, 2014 - 08:05PM JST
Flu vaccines do work, just not completely effective. On average they reduce the chance you will contract flu by about 45%. If I had to ride the subway every day I'd get one because lower chances are better than near 100%. I've had the shot for the last 25 years and never had the flu, or any "immune-compromised" symptoms. And that proves... nothing, just as NOT getting the shot and not getting flu proves nothing. OK, blast away with those Bads.
Steve FabricantJan. 30, 2014 - 09:10PM JST
Peacetrain, there was also jubilation in the US when we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Do we need to continue this line of debate?
Posted in: Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, others rally against Okinawa base plan
Steve FabricantJan. 20, 2014 - 04:42PM JST
Absolutely right, Alan. A relative was recently transferred and had to rent a small apartment for the workweek that seemed about perfect. After signing up and handing over the key money and deposit and moving in, it turned out that the neighboring apartment is occupied by a heavy smoker who was away when she had originally checked it out. Now she cannot open her windows for ventilation in warm weather because his are open too and the smoke flows directly into hers.
Posted in: Cigarettes more dangerous than ever: U.S. health report
Steve FabricantJan. 20, 2014 - 08:15AM JST
@openminded - cigarette smuggling is undoubtedly a problem in Europe where the borders are open now and mostly over land. This has always been true in the US as well where different states have widely divergent taxes (maybe not anymore?). But Japan seems to do a good job of controlling smuggling. Have there actually been instances of smuggled Chinese cigarettes in Japan? I agree that taxes would have to be raised gradually, probably up to the point where a large drop in teenage consumption can be seen. That would be politically feasible.
Steve FabricantJan. 19, 2014 - 10:21PM JST
The Wiki article cited by globalwatcher says absolutely nothing to the effect that the gov't does not recognize the link between smoking and luing cancer. Got any more "evidence" to prove whatever point you were attempting to make?
funny car - you are right that turning up the volume will not have much more effect. Raisng the tax on a pack will though, and has been shown to especially cut the number of young smokers, which is a huge public health payoff since older smokers are already at high risk anyway.
Steve FabricantJan. 19, 2014 - 09:42AM JST
Raising tax on tobacco products is the most effective modality of reducing the rates of cigarette smoking. Cigs in Japan are ridiculously cheap compared to other developed countries, and there is no GOOD reason for this. The government has a right to maximize tax revenues on tobacco, but it needs to be shamed into divesting ownership of JT. That would give it the flexibility to double or treble the tax and not worry about the drop in sales, while probably collecting the same amount of tax as now, if not more, from fewer addicts. By the way, the whole issue of corrupt Big Tobacco, banning smoking, and taxation was covered perfectly in a hilarious episode of "Yes, Prime Minister" a few decades back.
Steve FabricantJan. 18, 2014 - 09:29AM JST
Deaton is a respected development economist and Princeton has some top demographers. It's just too bad that the "reporter" omitted the policy context of the study, which I assume was to counter conservatives' arguments against US funding for family planning programs which claim that the urge to have more children is irresistable in poor countries.
Posted in: Is life better with kids? Not always, says study
Steve FabricantJan. 16, 2014 - 09:40AM JST
Certainly both countries are involved in Africa for economic reasons, but Japan has a pretty clean record in Africa, where they have also been implementing useful assistance projects for decades. China has been active there for less time but quickly garnered a reputation for aggressive purchases of farmland and unfair employment practices. In spite of this, Japan needs to keep showing the flag there in order to maintain a competitive edge against cheaper Chinese-made farm and construction machinery, roadbuilding and other infrastructure contracts.
Posted in: China slams 'troublemaker' Abe after Africa visit
Steve FabricantDec. 26, 2013 - 02:40PM JST
Nessie - Japan isn't a sandwich culture (yet). Some day even Starbucks will catch on and realize that soggy white bread or that abomination they call a wrap could be waaay better at no additional cost. The combini chains seem to change their snack food varieties now and then but not the hot foods.
I expect to pay more for convenience and freshness - the logistics systems for restocking are awesome, but don't come cheap. Maybe drone delivery is really a practical solution. And yes, there are too many of them - overconvenient? Competition is not what is needed in many neighbourhoods - I have a FM, a Lawsons, and a Coco within a few hundred metres (all near 3 schools coincidentally).
I agree with the rap on energy use. My nearest FM was closed for a month for renovation last year. I really expected to see some LED lighting and energy-conscious fridges when it reopened, but all we got different was a coffee-maker.
Posted in: 5 reasons Japanese convenience stores rock
Mar. 11, 2014 - 02:56PM JST
Personally, I'm pretty well disgusted with the lack of attention to child safety in cars in…
Posted in: How much attention do you think drivers in Japan pay to child safety seats or making sure their kids wear seat belts when they are in cars?
riken has repeatedly claimed that they stood behind the research data, and that the only problem…
Posted in: Scientist urges withdrawal of his own 'breakthrough' stem cell research
Mar. 11, 2014 - 02:53PM JST
They should have one of the foreign players kick the banner like Bruce Lee did in…
Posted in: 'Japanese only' banner scandal hits J-League
Mar. 11, 2014 - 02:50PM JST
Yes indeed, when you have isolated incidents like these, indict the entire nation of Japanese as…
Mar. 11, 2014 - 02:45PM JST
Racist thugs in football....who would have thought...