Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 World Ranking of Most Gender-Equal, Corrupt, Generous and Prosperous Countries


With the end of 2011, it’s a good time to think about where the world is in terms of extremes. That includes the most populated, most gender-equal, most corrupt, most generous, and most prosperous countries in the world. I specifically wanted to compare Japan with other countries, which is why I make sure it is in each list, even when they are very far down it (e.g., gender equality). It seems that two parts of the world are particularly doing well, and the countries of those regions are to be lauded.

Posted in Aggregators/lists/rankings, Culture, Japan | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

100+ Japanese Students’ Reactions to Black Friday & Boxing Day

“This is shopping? It looks like war!” This is one of the comments I received from one of the 100+ students who saw the dangers of Black Friday for the very first time. I was asked to give a presentation at a senior high school on a serious topic regarding foreign culture, and I thought it would be timely to talk about the holiday season. That is, a brief comparison between the shopping culture in Japan, the UK, Canada, and America. None of the students (or teachers) had ever heard about these foreign holidays, but it was interesting to see their reactions, which they submitted to me via survey.

Posted in Culture, Japan, Translations | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

17 Most Tweeted Events of 2011 (You’ll NEVER guess #1)

2011 was an impressive year for Twitter. (Beyonce is pregnant!) Many people, myself included, started taking Twitter seriously this year, and the numbers of users continue to increase, with no sign of letting up. (She’s pregnant!) Since the year is almost finished, there have been many people who have been saying that the biggest event of the year is… yes, Beyonce being pregnant. At least in terms of the number of people talking about it. (Pregnant!) But the year is not finished, and there has already been something that not only beat the record number of tweets per second, but absolutely demolished it. So let’s look at the most Tweeted events of the year.

Posted in Aggregators/lists/rankings, Culture, Japan, Legal Issues, Media, NewsManga, Translations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2011’s Most Popular (and banned) Japanese Baby Names

A ranking of Japanese baby names was recently released, showing which were the most popular this year. Apparently “Hiroto” is the most popular boy’s name and “Yui” is the most popular girl’s name. Name trends are an interesting thing, because they show us just how influenced we are by the popular culture. For example, there is a recent trend among Westerners in taking baby names from the vampire book/movie “Twilight;”and old heroes’ names are making a comeback, like Gatsby and Atticus. So what is the newest name-trend to hit the Island of Japan?

Posted in Culture, Japan, NewsManga, Translations | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Cold Shutdown Achieved at Fukushima Power Plant

It took 131 days to stabilize the Fukushima #1 (Daiichi) power plant, and after setting the goal in April to achieve cold shutdown by the end of this year, TEPCO finally announced that they had succeeded. This means that the water used to cool the nuclear fuel rods is below the boiling point. That means that they won’t reheat, which in turn means that radiation levels can now be kept securely at low levels, even if another damaging quake occurs. How much does this mean for the country? Some are skeptical.

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Top 4 Documentaries on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake

If there’s one good thing we can say about nature’s merciless beating of Eastern Japan on March 11, it’s that this incident became the most studied natural disaster in the world. Aside from Japan’s extensive scientific detection instruments, ordinary people from coastguards to tourists had documented what happened. With all the information we have now, scientists are piecing together important points that help us understand, prevent, or prepare for another such devastating earthquake. Following are some fantastic documentaries that show a great deal of information in a format that’s very easy for the layperson to understand.

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Paraplegic walks away from accident… What!?

“You’ll never walk again” the doctor said. No one expected a miracle. Until the age of 13, when she suffered nerve damage during a routine operation, Monique van der Vorst was a regular girl who grew up in the Netherlands. Since then, she had been paralyzed from the waist down, leaving her wheel-chair bound. Van der Vorst, however, would not let that discourage her, becoming an accomplished athlete in the years to come. She won two silver medals in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, and in 2009 was the first handcycle athlete to win the Ironman World Championship, in Hawaii. But the craziest part of this story is that a freak accident changed her life again, and she couldn’t be more pleased about it.

Posted in Biographical, Medicine & Health | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Master of Your Own Domain Name – What .xxx Porn Sites Mean For Us

Pornography just got a little more accessible; as if we needed it.

A few days ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – who oversee many things on the internet – approved the domain “.xxx” to be added to the web. It will join the ranks of .com, .net, .tv, and other URL suffixes. The ICM Registry was responsible for its inception, much to the anger of website owners, marketers, and basically anyone with a brand to protect. So what exactly does this new domain name mean for us?

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CG Advances – Part 2: How Close Are We to “Real?”

In Part 1, we looked at the case of the British documentary “Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA,” and how for about 30 seconds, it used footage of a video game instead of the real-life footage which the creators said they had available. The case brings an interesting question to light. No, not “what the hell were they thinking??” but “how realistic are graphics getting?” The following examples showcase some of the best of video game realism we see today.

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CG Advances – Part 1: Getting Realistic, and Already Fooling People

The graphics in video games are improving dramatically every decade. We now have plenty of examples of virtually life-like people and realistic-looking scenery in games. Of course, the in-game graphics (i.e., what you see when you control your character) are usually not as polished as the cutscene graphics (i.e., when you are just watching a video); but some games take pride in using the same graphical technologies for both. However, there are usually tell-tale signs that what you’re watching is nothing more than a CG (computer-graphics) work of art. That is, if you’re a gamer who is used to such graphics. Others are, evidently, fooled by it.

Posted in Media, Technology, Video Games | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment