Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fukushima Well on It’s Way to “Cold Shutdown”

The news from Fukushima has largely been good recently, since the temperature of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima #1 power plant have been steadily reduced. The government has redefined cold shutdown to include the state of the power plant releasing only up to 1 millisievert per year. This is hoped to be achieved by the end of the year, and this is a very good sign. But is it too early to celebrate, or can we relax a little knowing that things are much safer than before?

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Do You Truly Understand?: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

correlation_does_not_equal_causation_bachmannI found a great little infographic on correlation vs. causation, which is one of the most important lessons every science-minded person must learn in order to effectively understand the world. People have the tendency to make assumptions based on things they don’t understand, because they have not learnt the fundamentals of critical thinking. For example, many people buy cold medicines, which end up “completely curing” clients after a week of usage. Most people would chalk their recovery up to the medicine, when it really may have been nothing more than just a function of time. So this article will clear up some misconceptions involved in the correlation/causation confusion.

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2011 Sex Survey from Tokyo, Japan

black white feet bed

Timeout Tokyo (TT) published the results of a recent sex survey to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike, some of which were quite interesting and surprising. Questions pertained to opinions of approaches, foreign relations, public sex, etc. This article will serve to show some of the opinions of the respondents, as well as demonstrate many of the limitations or flaws involved with surveys.

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TED Gallery: Endangered or Forgotten Languages

Language is a massive part of culture. There’s absolutely no denying it. Anyone who speaks multiple languages that are from cultures that do not generally intertwine (i.e., not places like Pakistan, where they may grow up to speak three or more languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and English) understand well. But the internet, along with a rapidly increasing desire to communicate with people across the world, is homogenizing us in ways that some say are detrimental to smaller cultures. I decided to make compilations of TED talks among various topics, and I’m going to start with linguicide, the death of a language. We’ll start with one person who is trying to decipher the script of the Indus people; another who has studied many cultures across the globe; and another who believes that we can unite the world under one language, without doing so at the expense of other languages.

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The Science of Condoms – Pornography, Japan, and Beyond

In the past year, we have seen our fair share of headlines on the decline of condom usage, ranging from America and Finland, all the way to South Africa and Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, even the porn industry has been engaged in a dialogue on whether or not porn actors should be using contraception. You’d think the world would have learned the benefits of condom usage by now, but the fact that there’s even a discussion about this means that there are still people who need convincing. Here in Japan, some professionals are going to great lengths to promote condom usage, including one adult charity event that set out to “save the earth.”

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Will crying make you feel better? – Research of a thousand cries

In psychology research pertaining to crying, we generally see that people who are asked in retrospect how they felt after earlier instances of crying report positive changes in mood. This has led people to pass on the notion that crying is beneficial, and it is now conventional wisdom that crying is an important emotional release which is beneficial to our mental health. However, studies in the laboratory – such as having participants watch tear-jerkers and then report their mood – find that crying does not make them feel better. So what’s going on here? It turns out that these research methods were flawed to begin with, but recent research has shed light on this question.

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The Google Generation has Weak Google-fu

Some people say the usage of Google can tell you things the user. For example, that Google users are more internet savvy, or that Google usage correlates with income. I can’t imagine this correlation beyond the fact that “poor people don’t have computers, and therefore can’t access Google,” but those were indeed some of the results from research conducted a few years ago among 1000 American Internet users. But recent a new study has suggested that the “Google generation” (those who grew up with the Internet) actually are not good at using Google, and that it is not even the most efficient search engine. I was shocked to hear this, so I took to Google and began my investigation.

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The Cherry Blossoms Shall Bloom Again – An Overlooked Factor in National Unity

We’re now six months after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, and it’s time to look back on something so many foreign reporters talk about. In the days following the disaster, people were helping each other out, waiting in long lines for food, water, and gas, and were basically being what the foreign media (FM) thought was impossible – patient and calm. There are endless accounts of generosity towards strangers, and it seemed like everyone in Japan was looking out for one another. The question on everyone’s mind was “why,” considering the chaotic behaviour the world has witnessed in recent years. I offer an additional answer that it seems like everyone missed because… as you’ll see… you had to be there.

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Scientists Prove Bisexuals Exist; Captain Obvious Loses Job

“So they weren’t faking it after all?” Nope. Bisexuals really do exist.

No longer will bisexuals be considered mythical creatures akin to griffins, dragons and leprechauns. While this research seem trivial, it’s considerably important because past studies have conversely suggested that self-identified bisexuals may be… well, wrong. That is, they could be lying, or just “confused” about their sexuality. Human sexuality is fascinatingly complex, and indeed there are people who find themselves admittedly “confused”… but at least now science has given support to the notion that there are people who truly are attracted to both men and women. So why did it take us until 2011 to figure it out?

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Typhoon Talas Brings Tsunami-like Damage to Japan

While the English-speaking news media has been busy reporting various natural disasters in North America – such as Hurricane Irene, which resulted in a total of 55 deaths – I haven’t seen as much attention on the simultaneous devastation that’s been happening here. Typhoon 12, or “Talas,” as it’s known outside Japan, has brought what looks like another tsunami to the same coast that was ravaged on March 11. The pictures look eerily familiar, and the death toll could top 100. Talas not only shattered records, it gave an extra slap in the face to a slowly healing nation.

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