Click here for a comparison of current radiation levels and pre-quake levels in Shinjuku, see here for water.
Click here for regular up-to-the-hour updated information: http://22.214.171.124/report/report_table.do
Next, updated daily and hourly from the Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Unit in Tsukuba (Tsukuba is between Tokyo and the accident site at Fukushima. It is about 75 kilometers north of Tokyo, and 150 kilometers south of Fukushima). Is an updated hourly summary of radiation measured in microSv/hour. You can view the daily and hourly radiation level updates here: http://www.aist.go.jp/taisaku/ja/measurement/index.html
Here is an chart from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology’s National Metrology Institute of Japan webpage. It shows what typical radiation levels (measured in microSv) are in our daily lives:
At the bottom left, you see the mark of 190. That’s the amount of radiation you get on a one-way flight from Tokyo to New York. Above that, you see the number 2400. That is the amount of radiation that a person gets annually from nature. At the top left is the number 10000. That is annual radiation amount a person who lives in Karapari City in Brazil gets. At the top right, you see 6900, that’s the amount of radiation you get from a CT scan. Bottom right? That’s 50, the amount a person receives from one X-ray.
As you can see, there is absolutely no radiation risk in Tsukuba and Tsukuba is much closer to the accident site than is Tokyo. One gets a much bigger dose of radiation flying from Narita to New York. In fact, at 0.05 microSv per hour, you would have to be standing outside in the elements everyday for nearly 40 days straight to equal the amount of radiation you’d receive on just that single one-way flight from Tokyo to New York.
Kar Inspection, Kei Cars and Kamikaze! A Totally “Only in Japan” Relationship
The title of this article might give most foreigners pause. The original title was Car Inspection, Light Cars, and Japanese World War Two Airplane Manufacturers. It took me a while to figure out a “funnier” name to what this article should be titled and this was the best I could do. There is a definite relation between car (kar) inspections, Light cars (called “Kei” in Japanese) and World War II airplane manufacturers (Kamikaze). Read on.
After being here now for over 27 years and having a car for most of that time (I figure that is a bit of a rarity for a foreigner in Japan) I have gone through the car inspection ritual frustration so many times that I thought I’d better put it down on paper. I am going through that frustration now. It’s called “sha ken” (車検). It literally means “car inspection.” And the nanny state makes us go through this every few years.
Yes. Car Inspection. Every year I have to do this, I scratch my head and wonder why in the world do we have to put up with this nonsense? In fact, I’ve forgotten, but I gather that, when it comes around, I have complained about it so much and so often, that my Japanese wife has now completely taken over that duty and just tells me what to do and where to be. It’s better that way. I don’t have to think. Because if I do have to think about this “sha ken” nonsense, it will drive me crazy.
What happens is that as the owner of a car in Japan, you have to pay over a thousand dollars every couple of years to get approval from the authorities that your car is road worthy. This is a long and exhaustive deal so I’ll let Wikipedia explain it:
REASON FOR EXISTENCE
The inspection system is in place to ensure that vehicles on Japanese roads are properly maintained and are safe to be on the road. Another reason is to determine if a vehicle has been illegally modified. Illegally modified vehicles and vehicles deemed unsafe by police will have a red sticker with the following: fuseikaizousha (不正改造車) (Illegal Vehicle) in yellow and the date the vehicle was declared not fit to be on the street.
REGISTRATION AND COST
Before a test can be administered on a vehicle the owner of the vehicle must call up a shaken center and make an appointment by phone after which the owner must fill out paper work at the center. The cost for the shaken is broken up as follows:
- ¥1,400 for paperwork and processing,
- ¥25,200 for the testing,
- ¥29,780 for 24 months of validity and
- ¥8,090 for the “Recycling Department” with fees being added depending on the vehicle and its intended use (business, personal, commercial, etc.).
These variables can result in a cost from ¥100,000 to ¥150,000 or more. In comparison to the costs of the shaken a full diagnostic inspection of the very same Japanese models in the U.S. may cost less than US$100 (¥9,400).
If the vehicle is in good condition with no mechanical problems, the shaken only costs about ¥60,000 and includes 2 years of compulsory auto insurance. The high cost quoted above only occur when the car requires repair, or when extra fees are paid to third party companies to take the car in for the inspection.
If you want to roll your eyes some more, click here to see the rest of that Wikipedia page.
I will say, though, that since there is the “sha ken” system in Japan, you never see the rolling piles of junk and clunkers on the streets that you see in the USA. Take a drive on any day of the week in the USA, especially in Los Angeles, and you can see hunks of junk clanging down the street with things like their doors hanging on by duct tape or mufflers bouncing off the pavement being precariously close to completely falling off id it were for the clothes hanger bent into a stabilizing device.
Nope. You never see stuff like that in Japan. You never see cars on the road that look like they are going to fall apart any second. Having a car in Japan is expensive. Having the patience to have a car in Japan and put up with all the rigormaroll the government makes you go through teaches you patience. Driving and putting up with the narrow streets in Japan is a religious experience.
To be a good driver in Japan and to navigate these narrow alleyways is to understand a good portion of zen.
Classic Honda Light Car
This morning the “sha ken” folks came and took my car away. They left me with a loaner. It is one of those tiny cars that are only popular in Japan called “Kei jidousha” (軽自動車). Keijidousha means “light car.” Light cars are tiny little cars that, from what I understand, are not only popular in Japan but they are so small they are not popular for export overseas at all. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Light Cars:
Kei cars, K-cars, or keijidōsha (軽自動車), lit. “light automobile”) (pronounced [keːdʑidoːɕa]), are a Japanese category of small vehicles, including passenger cars, vans, and pickup trucks. They are designed to exploit local tax and insurance regulations, and in most rural areas are exempted from the requirement to certify that adequate parking is available for the vehicle. This especially advantaged class of cars was developed to promote popular motorization in the post war era. While successful at home, the genre is generally too specialized and too small to be profitable in export markets.
Until today, I had never driven one of these tiny Light Cars. Wow! Compared to my regular economy class Toyota, this car is half sized, but, suddenly the Tokyo streets seemed twice as wide. It was quite easy to drive around the city in this little bugger and to navigate even the tight hairpins turns up the hill from my home.
Very Popular Light Car, Suzuki Alto
I found that the Kei Class, Light Cars, were a nice surprise. The Suzuki I drove was a much nicer drive than the Fiat 500cc I’ve driven before and felt much more stable and secure than the Mini I’ve ridden in that made me fear for my life.
World War II Nakajima Manufactured aircraft
As a history buff and well-read on the subject, I’ve always been fascinated with World War Two. Riding in a Kei Car, Light Car, had me thinking that this vehicle, with its Spartan interior but well designed and solid chassis, and smooth ride, was something like an airplane out of the 1950′s. I have flown in old planes before too. Something about the interior of that Light car reminded me and old propeller driven Cessna class airplane.
Well, I checked and I found out that there is a relationship there.
These standards originated in the times following the end of the Second World War, when most Japanese could not afford a full-sized car yet had enough to buy a motorcycle. To promote the growth of the car industry, as well as to offer an alternative delivery method to small business and shop owners, kei car standards were created. Originally limited to a mere 150 cc (100 cc for two-strokes) in 1949, dimensions and engine size limitations were gradually increased (in 1950, 1951, and 1955) to tempt more manufacturers to produce kei cars. It wasn’t until the 1955 change to 360 cc as the upper limit for two-strokes as well as four-strokes that the class really began taking off, with cars from Suzuki (Suzulight) and then Subaru finally able to fill people’s need for basic transportation without being too severely compromised.
The class then went through a period of ever increasing sophistication, with an automatic transmission appearing in the Honda N360 in August 1968, with front disc brakes becoming available on a number of sporting kei cars, beginning with the Honda Z GS of January 1970. Power outputs also kept climbing, reaching a peak in the 40 PS (29 kW) Daihatsu Fellow Max SS of July 1970. Sales increased steadily, reaching a peak of 750,000 in 1970. Throughout the 1970s the government kept whittling away at the benefits offered to kei vehicles, which combined with ever stricter emissions standards to lower sales drastically through the first half of the decade. Honda and Mazda withdrew from the contracting passenger kei car market, in 1974 and 1976 respectively, although they both maintained an offering of commercial vehicles.
The very first successful Kei Car was a Subaru 360. And, in that, is another fascinating story. The company that became the manufacturer of the Subaru 360 was a company that was founded in 1918 and was japan’s first aircraft manufacturer called Nakajima Aircraft Company. Nakajima made many famous Japanese aircraft, mostly fighters and bombers in World War II.
The very first successful Kei Car was a Subaru 360
This company is another entirely different and fascinating episode in modern Japan history too. After the war, this company became Subaru. From Wikipedia:
AFTER WORLD WAR II
After Japan’s defeat in World War II the company had to close down since production and research of aircraft was prohibited by the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers. This had a severe impact on Nakajima because it was one of the two largest aircraft manufacturers, together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Unlike MHI though, it was not diversified into shipbuilding and general machinery, and so, had to dissolve into a number of spin-off companies set up by former managers, engineers, and workers. As a result, leading aeronautical engineers from NAC, such as Nakagawa Ryoichi, helped transform Japan’s automobile industry.
I highly recommend a brief look at the rest of the Wikipedia page about Nakajima Aircraft Company. It will really blow your mind about just how much, even in this day, that war creates the face of modern Japan. Perhaps Japan’s economy now is bad and some things don’t look to good for the future, but perhaps it is Japanese companies that are steeped in the past that can help Japan overcome her economic difficulties.
I, for one, think that these manufacturers should think again about approaching the foreign sales and export market using these Light Cars and viewing them in a different light. I think, with gasoline prices going past $4 a gallon in the USA and heading for over $5 soon, many city dwellers might find a Kei Car class car or truck and very appealing and economic answer.
If Fiat can sell those 500cc cars they sell overseas (I’ve driven those before) then Japanese manufacturers can sell these Light Vehicles to urban dwellers in big cities all over the world. Look at the designs of some of these Light Cars, they are more fashionable than the Fiat’s, no? They can especially find a market for these cars as our fiat currencies collapse and oil and gasoline prices continue to climb.
I would consider buying one someday now after I have driven one. Especially if it is as cool as the one that is pictured above…
Perhaps this year’s “sha ken” wasn’t all bad for me. At least I learned something. Kei Cars are pretty cool and I like them.
Well, I’ve always bragged that I was a trend leader…
On this blog, I’ve written extensively about how you can’t trust the government (nor can you trust the mass media) and the best way to protect yourselves and your family is to gather information yourselves. This has been especially true during the recent nuclear accident at Fukushima.
While the situation in and about Fukushima is very serious, due to weather patterns and distance Tokyo is still a safe place. I’ve listed educational and science institutes and other places where you can check the daily radiation levels in Tokyo in the air and water everyday here and at the top of this blog daily. Even so, I thought it would be fun and interesting to do checking on my own. So I bought a personal geiger counter.
Well, I should say, I ordered a personal geiger counter from Amazon Marketplace. It never arrived. I almost got cheated by a dishonest dealer (named Frontline Mobility) who now, it seems, has lost their contract with Amazon after many people (including me) complained. That was a dealer in the USA.
Then, I ordered one from a dealer in Japan using Amazon.co.jp Marketplace…. Hmmm? Same sorts of problems, it seems. It’s been weeks now since I ordered and still no geiger counter. This has happened even though when I ordered the dealer claimed to have it in stock and that shipping would be within three days….
Now this! Just today I found an article on Yahoo that says that sales of personal geiger counters have skyrocketed in Japan!
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) – With a nuclear plant just 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo still leaking radiation, demand for personal Geiger counters has skyrocketed in the Japanese capital and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the demand.
Engineers are battling to plug radiation leaks and bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control more than two months after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami that devastated a swathe of Japan’s coastline.
With many people unsure of who to trust for their information, some buy Geiger counters to check for themselves.
In Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics mecca, many stores have sold out and are unable to keep up with demand for the devices.
“Nobody even looked at or even knew the name (of the Geiger counter), but ever since the earthquake struck people have become very interested,” said Makoto Ogasawara, sales manager at electronics store Akibaoo.
“We are selling 100 times more.”
“We are producing four to five times more of the Geiger counter (than usual),” said Michihiro Kitazawa, Fuji Electric CEO.
Most of the Geiger counters at that factory are hand-made, which takes roughly 3 to 4 months. It makes about a dozen different types, producing about 2,000 per type each month.
Kitazawa said his company has also benefited from efforts to make the devices less complex so anybody can use them.
“Of course, there was the earthquake, but in the past 2-3 years, we have been trying to produce Geiger counters that are easier to operate,” he added.
But most of the Geiger counters made at the factory will still be used by those working inside nuclear power plants, prompting the company to carry out rigorous checks to make sure the devices are working correctly.
“We really care about credibility,” Kitazawa said.
Sigh…I am told by the dealer on Amazon.co.jp that the geiger counter I ordered will arrive by tomorrow… I continue to have my doubts. It’s now been almost two months since I ordered a geiger counter and I am still not a proud owner of a device.
No sign of any geiger counter…
I think, at this rate, I am hoping to have one by Christmas… But I am not holding my breath. I am not holding my breath waiting for the device to be delivered nor am I holding it in fear of breathing in radioactive fallout.
I just want my new “toy”. As soon as I get it. I am going to go around Tokyo and check for myself and report on what I find. Stay tuned!
This information just in that further confirms what the chairman of the Association of Tourism and Representatives (ANTOR) told me the other day. The Yomiuri newspaper reports that foreign passengers using Narita airport are down 63% since the earthquake of March 11. Here’s a quick translation:
The number of foreign passengers on international flights using Narita airport in April has dropped 63% compared to April a year earlier. It was the largest ever drop.
The earthquake, tsunami and problems in eastern Japan along with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident further reduced travelers using the airport by 34%..
Of course, not all of this drop can be attributed to the earthquake as many international carriers began overseas service out of the more convenient Haneda airport nearer central Tokyo, but this is still a massive drop and a surprise to all.
There is an interesting interview over at the Huffington Post with nuclear engineer Akira Tokuhiro. Tokuhiro talks about most of the nuclear fallout from Fukushima blowing over the USA and not Japan.
This is interesting Interesting information for the Flyjin who ran away from Tokyo, Nagoya and even farther away soon after the accident (and got much higher doses of radiation flying in planes than we were getting in Tokyo) and another curious point about how an accident at a USA designed nuclear power plant causes great damage to both Northern Japan and the USA.
“There is a difference amongst the following: nuclear physicist, nuclear engineer, nuclear reactor operator, nuclear non-proliferation specialist.
During the current crisis, all these ‘experts’ have been in the media.
The ranking of ‘experts’ who REALLY know how the reactor accident took place is as follows.
1) Nuclear reactor operator (he/she is really the forensic surgeon, the auto mechanic who can build and drive the car)
2) Nuclear engineer (he/she is the forensic and internal/external medicine practitioner; the automobile design and analysis engineer)
As for the other two, they only understand the principles. It is as if they know the principles of driving a car but have never driven the car nor designed a car nor repaired a car.
Would you ask a podiatrist about a medical heart condition? Would you ask a medical ethicist? I think you get my point.
It takes all kinds of people to run the global nuclear industry. However, who do you trust in terms of knowledge?”
The article continues:
“I asked him about his own family in Tokyo and about Japanese culture in general regarding the lack of information. Akira replied that Japan is very centralized, Tokyo-centric and that these things seemed to be taking place very far away and that the people in Tokyo were not in shelters, evacuated perhaps forever from their homes. He told me about the diary he was reading online of one evacuee who had been a nuclear engineer working at Fukushima, who had been evacuated with his family. (It can be found in the original on the Japan Nuclear Industrial Forum here: www.jaif.or.jp). This man is an expert and he can be trusted to know what is going on and analyze the information.
Fukushima differs from other nuclear reactors in that it uses a dirty fuel or MOX which is banned in many of the countries where nuclear power is a major energy source. My Swedish-Russian nuclear physicist friend is sending me links for reliable radioactivity readings and weather/wind patterns. We must remember some of what is posted on the internet are simulations, not actual readings. But he did add this:
The most terrifying fact is that the Japanese power plants are using ‘dirty’ fuel, which most countries have rejected and banned. Needless to say that the Americans built them. Since the Earth is moving Counterclockwise most of the fall-out will drop on U.S.”
Interesting to read that even Tokuhiro’s comments are completely about the immediate area around the nuclear power plant (and not Tokyo) and how efforts need to be focused there. It is also surprising to see that most of the radiation is going to fall on the USA…. It’s a US designed nuclear power plant too….I guess karma can be a real biatch!
It’s also relieving to see that the basic background radiation levels in Tokyo as measured by non-governmental agencies are still comparative to pre-earthquake levels showing no alarming spike and still 1/4 the radiation levels of Rome, Italy. The rdiation levels in Tokyo at this very moment are: 0.063 microgray per hour. If you flew from Tokyo to New York you would absorb about 200 micrograys of radiation. This means that the daily background radiation levels living in Tokyo straight for 8.69 months is roughly equal to one one way flight to New York from Narita.
Are you panicking yet?
For today’s levels compared with pre-quake levels see here. (If that link doesn’t work, copy & paste this: http://bit.ly/erHm9p)
In matters of business or running the affairs of any group of people, always remember the Golden Rule: It’s not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that counts!
This is such an important message that I am so surprised that it seems few people remember or even know it. Whenever dealing with an group of people in a social or business setting, it is always so important to keep this in mind!
It’s not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that really counts!
When things are decided, without consulting with all the people involved, you take a huge risk of missing the entire picture. You take a huge risk of getting people angry or demotivating them. This is a terrible mistake to make at work. You must get the opinion of everyone involved. You must make everyone feel that they are important and that their opinion counts.
This doesn’t mean that everything is a democracy and everyone must agree with every decision, it merely means that, in order to increase the chances of your success, you must make everyone feel a part of the decision making process.
Here’s an example that I have heard somewhere:
You are the president of a small company that makes toasters. Sales are down and your company solvency are on the line. To fix this situation and return your company to health and profitablility will take a mighty effort from everyone at your company.
As president, you must decide the new model that your company will manufacture and sell for the new season starting next year. You look at all the different models that you might manufacture. You check them for production cost per unit and a profitability and then make a decision on which model to manufacture.
Have you made the right choice? Perhaps. Did you choose wisely? No. You would have greatly increased your chances for success if you had included all your staff in the decision making process.
If this is the best design and the model that your company needs to make it into profitability again, then why didn’t you consult with, for example, Sales and Promotion department? After all, these are the people who daily are out on the field and talking with customers, buyers and checking the competition.
Not asking their opinion is the best way to make them think that you don’t care about what they think and you do not value their ideas. Employees who think the boss doesn’t care what they think are demotivated employees. Demotivated employees – especially in the Sales Department, will not go that extra step to make the sales that the company needs.
If your choice is the best machine, then why wouldn’t you involve them in the decision making process? Of curse, not everyone needs to agree on one specific model, but everyone needs to feel that they are being heard, that their opinion counts, and that they are a valued member of the team.
Regardless of the model that your company choose to make, if you involve everyone in the decisions process, make them feel wanted, heard and respected, then they will feel responsible. If your staff feel responsible towards the success of the project, then they will just go that extra mile to make sure it is a success. And that is what your company needs.
It is often the difference between a successful company and a failure: The successful company has employees who feel valued and feel that their ideas and opinions are heard and respected.
So don’t forget the Golden Rule: It’s not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that counts!
Tonight and every night this week, I’ll be hosting an underground music / comedy show called Bam! on 76.1 InterFM (Monday ~ Friday 9 pm ~ 11pm.
Bam! Only plays the coolest and newest underground music and Punk in Japan. We play the new stuff before anyone else in the country. Check the playlist here (scroll to bottom of the page).
And we give away free booze every night! Yes! We can!
The good folks at iwine.jp are providing two bottles of Chile wine from the Emiliana Vineyards for some lucky winners who can send in some e-mail concerning something we talk about on the show. If the email is very funny or interesting, that listener wins a free bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon!
Check out iwine.jp for great wines deals online. Join as a member and win free wines every month!
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein
We live in a world whereby well over 85% of adults fail miserably when it comes to critical thinking abilities. Let me give you examples of why I believe this to be true.
I receive daily updates from the Seth Godin Blog. It’s always a short but interesting read. Yesterday’s blog was entitled, “What’s high school for?” It had several excellent points that Seth hoped that high school of the future could be teaching students. I agree. You can see the list here.
I enjoyed all the points on Seth’s “Wish List”. My favorite two points that I think must be taught immediately are:
1) How to read critically
2) An understanding of the extraordinary power of the Scientific Method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
There is one more point that I always strive for and that point is:
3) An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
There are few people, I hope, who would disagree with the three I have taken from Seth’s list. Unfortunately, there are many, even “successful” parents and businessmen who are sorely lacking in item #1. I believe that is irrefutable logic that if you fail at #1 then you will not be able to successfully conduct items #2 and #3.
Most unfortunately, I’m getting the impression that, judging from the comments I often hear and from reading comments on Social Media websites, at least 85% of the adult population are incapable of well-executed critical analysis and reading. We lives in a society today whereby far too many people have lost the ability to perform even the most basic levels of critical/analytical thinking when it comes to what they see or hear on TV or what they read in print. This is a very sad situation. People are not able to extract facts from conjecture. They seem to be incapable of deeply considering the motivations of the people they see/hear or read on the mass media.
Proper critical analysis will always examine a person’s possible motivations for what they say or write. Too few adults today seem able to exercise this most basic ability.
Let me give you three recent cases in point with real-life examples;
Recently, amongst a plethora of panic concerning the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I often read comments from people whereby they stated things like, “I don’t believe the government. I only want the truth.”
Great. First off, I think the part about not believing the government is good. But let me restate that; being skeptical of government pronouncements is healthy.
The second part about wanting the truth is a given. So does everyone else (hopefully). But do people really want the truth when they make these sorts of statement’s, then link these claims to anothers writings (often filled with outlandish claims) when they haven’t taken even a minute to do a basic background check on the person that they are linking to and quoting from?
Of course, I have an advantage here. Thirty years in broadcasting teaches you why and how to do backgrounds checks first as a matter of course (actually being taught to do background checks in news is taught on the first day of new broadcasting courses in any college or university in the world).
A person who claims that they only want to find the truth and while attempting to to post or comment about a subject (see #2 above about Scientific Method) and then linking to or quoting from a “quack” – whose background hasn’t been properly checked or vetted by that person – only makes a mockery of that supposed “search for truth” and that person’s claims… It makes that person who is claiming to be the searcher look a fool. (I reckon that the search for truth will require a bit more than a two-minute effort and consume a lot more time than a quick read and rehashing some ill-researched column from the quoted “quackster.”)
I’ll give you an excellent example. Recently, during the outrageous and excessively over-blown panic about the Fukushima nuclear accident and its effects on Tokyo and southern and western Japan, several people wrote ridiculous nonsense on blogs and on Facebook, etc., quoting a very well-known and sensationalist “scientist” named Michio Kaku.
tiny little bodies with tiny little arms and legs… So did the
When the subject is something of critical importance like nuclear radiation and the dangers to you and your family, why is quoting people like Michio Kaku nonsense? Because listening to people like him is like asking William Shatner (played Captain Kirk in Star Trek) about space travel….Well, don’t believe me, your honor. You be the judge. Here’s the evidence; Michio Kaku he may be billed as a “scientist” but he is heavily involved in all sorts of “entertainment” such as writing Science Fiction for TV and books.
As of this very moment, Michio Kaku’s Wikipedia shows him to be a Theoretical Physicist. If you look through his bio, you’ll see that most of his academic qualifications all list “Citation needed” (which means they are not verified). If you check his edit history on Wikipedia, you’ll see that this is a very controversial figure with tens of thousands of re-edits. Before the Fukushima disaster, I saw Kaku was listed as an “Astrophysicist.” Astrophysicist is defined as someone who studies the stars and the universe. It is also sometimes used as the description for someone who is involved with the zodiac for fortune telling purposes.
Finally, a short check of Michio Kaku’s work and list of books shows that his latest book is entitled, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (I wonder if this book has George Jetson walking his dog on the cover?) This (ahem), hardcore peer-reviewed scientific document follows his other “scientific works” such as, “Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension” and, “Physics of the Impossible.”
“Physics of the Impossible” is described on Kaku’s own Wikipedia sites as, “an exploration into the science people dream about. Kaku explores things that people think are quite impossible. This book is divided into three sections: Class I, Class II, and Class III, according to the time that the things he talks about might happen.”
“Exploration into the science people dream about”? “Impossible”? “The things he talks about might happen”? Indeed.
Kaku finds the time to write these books when he’s not hosting his Saturday night TV show on Channel 10, “Sci-Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible.” And, if you loved those, you’ll surely enjoy Kaku in, “Obessed & Scientific” That’s a film about the possibility of time travel and the people who dream about it.
Oh and all of the above is derived from a very enthusiastic following (fans) who describe him on Wikipedia. Whenever doing a proper background check, it’s always best to check sources that are not so positive. This is part of the critical and analytical process. One of many other sources reveals that Michio Kaku, as recently as January 27, 2011, was quoted as saying, “All you can do is run” to people who live near Yellowstone National Park. You might remember a while back when Old Faithful was acting funny. That was when Kaku said in an article that was quoted in the “End Times Are Here” that the volcano under the Yellowstone National Park was a “super volcano” that was going to”wipe out the United States as we know it.”
that way, not me) in this shot from his hard-hitting science fiction TV
Now, after I have completely destroyed this guy’s scientific credibility (all within two whole minutes) I ask again, ‘who is Michio Kaku?’ Is he an Astrophysicist? Maybe. Is he a Theoretical Physicist? Possibly. Is he a Physicist (as we understand the typical usage of the term)? Most probably not.
Continuing with the question of ‘who is Michio Kaku’? Is he a Science Fiction writer and host of Science Fiction TV programming dealing with possibilities and the far-flung future and a writer who needs to sell books? Most definitely, “Yes!” Is appearing on TV and mass media and internet sites spewing fantastic Science Fiction the best way to get Star Wars fans and Trekkies to know your name and the best way to promote and sell your books? Most definitely “Yes.”
Is Michio Kaku someone you’d rely on to tell you the truth about conditions at a nuclear accident site and to give you the facts you need to make a logical, rational decision on what’s best for your life and your families future? Unless you are just plain stupid or nuts, most definitely not. That many people actually took this guy seriously shows that the premise of this post is true.
Folks, I am a pretty open-minded guy. I don’t care about things like gay marriage or abortion. These are not my business and I think people should do as they please. I like to have fun too! Incredibly, I even work with the biggest women’s magazine in Japan in a project concerning astrology. Really! I think Astrology and books and Science Fiction about the future are fun and entertaining. But, I do understand that these are not generally or universally recognized as a good way to plan your families future (unless you believe in zombies). Only an fool or incredibly irresponsible person would even consider for a second that they are.
Evangeline Adams to ask about the future of stock prices.
Her answer, “The Dow Jones could climb to heaven.”
The very next day, the stock market hit its all-time high…
(By the way, It now it seems in Japan that the discussion has turned to the Tokai and Hamaoka nuclear power plant. This is logical and makes sense. After the Great Hanshin earthquake knocked down above ground expressways in Kobe that were manufactured by the same company that made the expressway above 246 in Tokyo, the local government has spent years upgrading those roads. This is prudent and understandable. I am not saying that I want the Hamaoka or Tokai plants shut down. I am saying that I think we must do a full examination of these facilities using the scientific method and, if their safety is found to be lacking, I would be more than sympathetic to either shutting them down (they are, after all, very old) or strongly reinforced (including, of course, being shut down until all improvements are made)…. Actually, at 40-years-old, I cannot imagine that it is financially viable to upgrade these facilities. I also believe that since these plants are privately owned that the share-holders will be dead-set against shutting down these facilities.)
I have written before in Open Letter to All Sensationalist Reporters and Bloggers on April 3, 2011 that people (especially in Tokyo) should worry about Tokai or Hamaoka nuclear reactors. Those reactors are upwind from Tokyo. Fukushima is downwind:
Not to downplay the suffering of those affected, but the disaster in Miyagi and surrounding areas is bad, but, in the long term view of things, merely a blip on the screen of Japan. Had this accident happened in Tokyo where 65 million people live (as opposed to the 750,000 in Miyagi), near the Tokai or Hamaoka reactor – that might result in a real catastrophe.
But I digress.
Another recent example showing a lack of critical thinking or reading skills by Joe Sixpack involved the film about the dolphin slaughter in Japan, The Cove. In an article I wrote last year that was published in several international online sites, Japan’s Bans the Cove and Other Atrocities I had suspicions on the motivations of that film’s producers. The producers of that film claimed that their motivations were pure and sincere. They said something to the effect of “If the Japanese people could see the movie, then they’d rise up and stop the senseless killing of these dolphins.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)
From being a person who works in Marketing, the mass media and is initimately familiar with hype, I smelled a rat. I wrote:
“…if the makers of The Cove were truly sincere about their motivations in protecting the whales and dolphins, and how, if they truly believed that if the Japanese saw the movie, they’d demand the end of this whaling and dolphin killing, then they’d make the entire movie free on Youtube. Other people with a message have made theirs free, why doesn’t the makers of The Cove do the same? Trust that Youtube has hundreds of millions more viewers than the movie theaters in Japan ever could hope to have. But, you know what? The Cove is not available on Youtube; only trailers for sales promotion are available. There goes their credibility.
And don’t tell me that they can’t give the movie away for free because then they won’t make any money; just look at Google. Google gives away almost everything for free and they are one of the biggest money making companies in the world.
So just keep that in mind when you think about this problem and are bursting veins in your neck screaming about how evil these Japanese fishermen are.”
Of course, lots of people jumped on me for that question (Another example of what this post is about: the inability of a huge percentage of the adult population being unable to analyze and think critically). I am not talking about the pros and cons of killing those dolphins. I am completely attacking the claims of that film’s producers. If we are to take what they say at 100% face value, that their motivations are purely to protect those dolphins and stop the killing (instead of controversy and making money producing films), then why isn’t this film available for free on YouTube?
The fact of the matter is that The Cove is not available for free on Youtube. Anyone could place The Cove on Youtube, the fact that this film’s makers do not shows that their claims are false. Their primary motivations are not saving the dolphins, their primary motivations are money. If you don’t believe me, place the film on YouTube and see how quickly a right’s claim come to you and that film being removed by the right’s owners.
This film being “banned” in Japan is the best promotion these folks could have ever asked for. You couldn’t buy promotion that good. Think, “Sex Pistols” hype and media manipulation in 1976 for a brief course on how it’s done. I know, I’ve done it myself too. My name was Nigel Nitro in 1978 and I was in a one-hit wonder band named “the Rotters.”
Global Warming gave us ten years of scare-mongering and panic. The first example, for me, was how the melting of the Arctic ice was going to flood low lying countries and territories creating in 2005, many publications warned, “50 Million Environmental Refugees by 2010!” Of course, it hasn’t happened. Then the UN tried to drop that asinine claim down the memory hole. But they got caught. Read: The UN “disappears” 50 million climate refugees, then botches the disappearing attempt.”
But, actually, folks, you didn’t need to wait 6 years for this to happen to prove to you that this could never happen. Just a little analytical process and critical thinking were needed. Add those two with the Scientific Method and you could have proven to yourself, at home, in 30 minutes, that the melting of the ice caps could never increase the water level in the oceans.
Place some ice in a glass. Fill with water. Watch to see if when the ice melts the water flows over or not. Nope. It doesn’t. Simple, isn’t it? That’s an example of the Scientific Method.
The Scientific Method is virtually an unknown ability amongst the public at large. There are tons of examples showing how people are fast losing the ability to think analytically or critically. The old examples are many and there are new examples popping up everyday. These examples are just too numerous to state.
One recent example that just astounded me was the claim that the US government finally killed Osama Bin Laden. I chuckled when I first heard this claim. Then I laughed even more when the so-called photos came out and looked obviously Photoshopped (I’m pretty good at Photoshop and use it nearly everyday for work). It became a real screamer when the US government changed their story, and still continues to do so, everyday after the murder (of what is in most likelihood some old Pakistani guy) …. Read more here on a complete destruction of that nonsense about Osama… I don’t which sensationalism is worse, this Osama Bin Laden assassination joke or how some “scientists” claimed that Fukushima was going to make 1/3 of Japan uninhabitable!
The technical publication, the Register had a good article on TV news going Hollywood here. It still applies today and will apply tomorrow even though most people may be too dim to remember that far by then.
Even so, the Osama Bin Laden assassination story became a real head scratcher for me when I saw all those dimwit American people in front of the White House celebrating the death. “USA! USA! We’re number one!” Is it possible that these people still believe anything the US government says? What? Are they so brain-dead? I guess American Idol wasn’t on TV that night. (Bet you a half a donut that these people spend way too much time in front of their TV sets and never read books.)
Then all I could do was shake my head. I find it incredible that all these people actually believe this stuff. Need anymore evidence that neanderthal man never really went extinct and their relatives still stalk this earth or that man did indeed evolve from apes?
Of course, I make these comments in jest….
Judging from that, the panic in Tokyo (and all over the world) concerning Fukushima, the dolphins, AGW and a host of other nonsense just shows me that I am completely correct when I say that we live in a world whereby over 85% of adults fail miserably when it comes to critical thinking abilities.
People should try not to be in that 85%.
How to learn critical thinking and analytical skills? There’s lots of books on the subject. So start reading books… Oh, and I don’t mean Science Fiction books by guys like Michio Kaku or, even though my seven-year-old loves them, children’s books by J.K. Rowling.
Osama Bin Photoshopped. On left, Bin Laden in 2001. The guy in the middle was killed three years ago and this photo has been all over the Internet since. The guy on the right is supposedly Osama Bin Laden… Gee, the background is the same as the middle photo. So is the bandage on the left shoulder… The eyes… And hey! Bin Laden’s mouth must be frozen in time and he has less gray hair in his beard than 10 years ago. The real question should be: “What’s the secret to this guy’s youth?”
NOTE: I can think of at least eight people who might think that I am writing about them in this article. I am not writing about any one person…Don’t flatter yourselves, there’s millions of people who are well educated yet have problems when they require critical thinking or the ability to perform basic analytical process. This article is about all of them and this serious problem in society today.
“Sumimasen” in Japanese means “sorry” or “excuse me.” Sometimes, depending on context, it can mean “thank you” (if someone is, say, kind to you or does you a favor).
If you ever come to Japan and you only learn one word, “Sumimasen” is it. It is so versatile. Some of the big lessons of Japan and living in this country is that Japanese will teach you patience. It will will also teach you to be humble. It will also teach you to say, “Sorry”… Well, specifically, “Sumimasen”.
In Japan the customer is “God!”
Foreigners who do not learn these things quickly don’t do well here. They don’t last. For nearly three decades I’ve seen foreigners come and go and the ones who go the fastest fail to learn the simple lesson of “Sumimasen”.
In a previous post I spoke about how, in Japan, the customer is god. That’s right. In this country, even when the customer is wrong, the customer is still the customer and is god.
If you are ever here working for a Japanese company or with the Japanese and there’s some sort of problem – even if it is not your fault – the first thing out of your mouth should always be “Sumimasen”.
Sumimasen and a sincere attitude and bowing of ones head shows that you know your place in society and that you respect people.
I’ve seen many cases where there was some sort of problem at work. I can’t remember exactly what those problems were or whose fault they were. It doesn’t matter. But when the foreign staff were summoned by the Japanese management or the Japanese client or customer, I told that foreigner, “No matter what, the first thing you do when you walk into that room is to bow your head and say, ‘Sumimasen’.” I’ve even pleaded with some foreign staff to do this. Most wouldn’t have it. They wouldn’t listen.
“I’m not going to apologize, Mike. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“No one is saying you did anything wrong. You must must say ‘sumimasen’ to show that you are sorry for this regrettable situation.”
They wouldn’t do it. Fools. Why wouldn’t you say ‘sorry’? When, for example, you friend’s mom or dad passes away, you say ‘I’m sorry’ even though you had nothing to do with it, right? Why can’t you say ‘sorry’ in this case?
They wouldn’t do it. They had a attitude of superiority. They didn’t bow their heads.
They lost their jobs.
They thought they were God’s gift to the business world, but they got their butts out of a job. It happened every time.
Once again, in Japan, the customer is god. The person paying the money is lord. If that person who is paying the money – be they a customer or your boss – wants to complain or has a claim against you or your company, even if it isn’t your fault, you must do these things:
1) Say “Sumimasen” repeatedly.
2) Bow your head and repeat #1.
3) You better show a sincere attitude that you are listening and not just acting like you are listening.
4) This is an important one! No matter how upset the client, customer or your boss gets, no matter how much they shout or raise their voice, you had better damn well not talk back. Talking back to the person who is paying the money is a cardinal sin. Talking back is called “iikaeshi” and that is absolutely verboten! No matter how upset they get, you follow rule #2.
Recently, I was at a meeting where a customer got very hot under the collar and began to raise their voice. It was a difficult situation. It got even worse when the person who was the receiver of monies from this customer committed iikaeshi and talked back. That employee said, “Don’t shout at me!”
No! No! No! That only escalated the situation and made a situation whereby that employee had just put their neck out asking to get terminated.
Never! But never talk back to an angry customer in Japan. That is behavior that is not tolerated in this country. That kind of behavior is asking to get fired.
When the customer is mad and yelling, the proper reaction is to respond in a quiet voice, “Sumimasen! Sumimasen!” This response will diffuse the situation and then the customer must be allowed to blow off steam. A demur attitude and a repetition of ‘sumimasen’ (along with a ton of bowing and a humble and sincere attitude) will show professionalism and it will show that customer that here is a person who respects the customer and, in return, deserves to be respected.
Any other response besides the above shows the customer an amateurish and low level employee that is not deserving of higher pay nor a higher position. If that employee commits such a sin repeatedly, that employee only deserves a pink slip.
“Sumimasen” not only means, “Excuse me,” “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” it is also a word that works like just like magic.