Monthly Archives: June 2011

Top 5 Commencement Speeches of 2011

I spent the last few weeks watching for the best commencement speeches on YouTube, and I have compiled a list that should inspire you, if not entertain you. This is especially true if you have just graduated, or if you are facing a new transition, or a major change in your life. However, the truly great thing about listening to these graduate speeches is that they are meaningful to whomever listens – provided they’re good, obviously. I find moments of profundity in so many of these words, even while viewing these videos on a computer in Japan, and having nothing to do with the graduations myself. It doesn’t matter. There’s no monopoly on inspiration. So I’m going to keep watching these every year, because they make us think about important things like what we want to be or where we want to go in the future.

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Skeptikai Notices (June27) – News, psychology, Japan, & more

News:

Suicidal Chinese boy tries to jump off bridge and gets a surprising rescue – A Chinese boy was about to kill himself when the quick thinking of a complete stranger led to him to change his mind. How did she do it? She kissed him. It was caught on camera.

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Who is Aimi Eguchi?

I wanted to briefly mention a case about a Japanese girl group whose marketing is thoroughly impressive, as an addition to my last article. If you’re not familiar with AKB48, then you must not be living in Japan. They are the most popular girl group here, and they are managed by marketing experts who make sure they have constant and widespread exposure. The group has 48 regular members (with over 20 trainee members, perhaps soon-to-be regulars), giving them the world record for the most number of members in a music group. Like the longer-running “Morning Musume,” the girls in this group also change from year to year, “graduating” onto new endeavors as they get older. They are plastered all over Japan on billboards, buildings, posters, etc. There’s a lot to mention about AKB48, but the real reason I wanted to write this post was because of their “newest member.” Watch the following video and see if anything looks suspicious…

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How Girl Groups Make it Big in Japan

Girl groups in Japan largely exemplify the genius of Japanese marketing. In fact, becoming an idol or “tarento” (“talent”) in Japan is less about actually having talent than it is about having a “presence.” The late 1990’s saw the beginning of girl groups with a huge number of performers. People liked seeing the cutesy girls bounce around on TV shows and sing and dance in their music videos. With these mega-groups, hopefuls are now required to do competitive rehearsals in order to become a new member. The youngest in such a group (℃-ute) joined at age 11. To make it big in the East-Asian pop scene, it seems like the main thing is not just to be young and cute, though that is certainly a big part of their appeal. No, it is more about the marketing of “talented mediocrity,” wrapped in a pretty pink package.

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Skeptikai Notices (June18) – News, psychology, Japan, & more

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Skeptikai on Twitter

Since I’m constantly told how great Twitter is, I decided to join a week ago. I’m not sure how it will affect my blogging, but so far I have no major complaints since I started using it last week. I’ve been making some minor changes to my blog as well, though I can’t get facebook to sync with this website, and I’m thinking of just giving up on it. Maybe twitter is enough. Anyways, beyond the general update on Skeptikai, I also decided to look up interesting facts about Twitter. I found lots. I admit, I didn’t realize how much Japan has affected twitter; and I had no idea how much Twitter has affected Japan.

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Outsiders have it all wrong – Japan is all right

After the destruction from the tsunami and the earthquake shook up the people of Eastern Japan, residents did the unthinkable – nothing. They didn’t cause riots, they didn’t start looting, and they kept patience in queues that went on for hours, despite the trains breaking down and separating passengers from their families. But when a disaster strikes somewhere in the world, some journalists descend like vultures who scavenge off vulnerable prey. Japan was certainly guilty of this when an earthquake hit New Zealand a month prior. However, the scale of nonsense from the foreign media (FM) has been truly astounding since March 11. I’m not going to pretend that we should discount all claims of potential harm, because obviously there are risks to be considered in Japan. But the FM has exaggerated, speculated, and flat-out lied about many things in their reports. And for all the warnings the FM had given, I would surmise that the situation would have been much worse if Japanese people had been listening to them.

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Skeptikai Notices (June7) – Psychology, Japan, books, & more

To prove that I’m not simply neglecting Skeptikai, I’ve decided to start randomly posting links to articles, events, news, or any other interesting pieces that I recently notice, in random weeks. Maybe there will be a pattern later, but I don’t have a plan yet. This is just my way of staying an active blogger, in the unfortunate circumstances of not having enough free time to write articles daily.

Psychology:

To the brain, getting burned, getting dumped feel the same – Neurologically speaking, a punch and a broken heart is all the same. Maybe this oversimplifies things… but really, it’s all just neural information.

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