Showing posts from July, 2012

Too Darn Hot

Here are a couple of links, in no particular order, for those of you who still read blogs, in the hot days of Twitter and Face (?) -book and whatnot.

Potentially very expensive Samsung vs. Apple patent lawsuit accidentally reveals that the original design of the iPhone or whatever you call them was influenced by - Sony (back when they where working with Swedish Ericsson).

BoingBoing: Early iPhone mockups show Sony influence

The current iPhone design, it turns out, was in the works since 2006—and was so influenced by Sony that they even put its logo on the mockups. Court filings in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung reveal an early concept by Apple designer Shin Nishibori which closely resembles the current-gen iPhones, complete with the silver band
The Verge has 754 comments on its article, so obviously this matters to some people...

What really matters? North Korea's News Service (KNS) in Tokyo calls South Korean president Lee "rat-like" and a stoo…

Japan Merry Project In London

Merry is a Japanese project that involves big smiles from Japan. It has expanded to support local merry farming efforts, and merry music, and anything that makes people happy.

Now, they made a scoop in London as the Olympics are about to begin: Merry London

It has nothing to do with sports, just simple umbrellas that show photos from the Tohoku region north of Tokyo, of smiling children. All good. An attempt to deal with all the bad news, the bad rumours, well, all the good will prevail! Kids are strong and hey, stop the madness!

Designer Paul Smith is a Merry Project fan.

They also get involved in projects to clean up litter and garbage in places like Shibuya, Tokyo (J).

Merry Archives has a huge archive of photographs of people's smiles and their handwritten messages of their responses for a simple question: "What's 'merry' for you?"
You can search and browse the smiles and messages, by time and place, out of more than 20,000 of those from 23 co…

Anti-Nuclear Protests In Tokyo - In 1957

I stumbled upon some interesting video footage of a large anti-nuclear protest outside the UK Embassy in Tokyo, held in 1957. While I knew about the early actions by groups of survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and their supporters, this was news to me. In light of the massive anti-nuclear demonstrations recently in 2012 (see here and here, for example), it is worth noting that 55 years ago, people in this country were already expressing their dissent at mass demonstrations. In fact, seems to me that Japanese activists deserve credit for basically inventing the anti-nuclear protests!

The UK first tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean in late 1956. The footage found on Critical Past is in response to the second testing in May, 1957. Unfortunately, the film cannot be embedded, so please watch it on their site:

Critical Past: Protests at British Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, following Britain's second H Bomb test in South Pacific

Description: Large crowd assembled in …

Ramsar Convention (Update)

I am in Bucharest, Romania for the Ramsar Convention COP11 meeting, a large conference about wetlands. I'm here for the rice paddies, that also count as important places for migrating birds, frogs, insects, you name it... All kinds of biological diversity depends on them, including humans.

Amazing city, wonderful people.

Photo from Linkages, IISD that provides daily news from the conference.

Update July 26: I meant to blog more about my experiences but it was a very difficult conference. Also my hotmail account was affected by a third party attempt to hijack it (which I think I managed to avoid!) and in addition, it was 35 C and very hot every day. I loved the city and the people, as noted above, and have mostly happy memories.

However, the Ramsar conference was a disaster, as far as I am concerned. The general public could not enter the massive building, and there was zero media exposure. Most of the time was wasted on a convoluted debate about the "hosting" of the secre…

I Almost Forgot: Feed In Tariffs From July 1 In Japan

I wish they would come up with a better name than Feed In Tariffs, but ok, we got them, and that is good. It means we are now entering a new era for renewable energy.

Hey, call it whatever you want, a lot of people are going to like this. FIT? No joke. Don't throw a fit!

The system requires utilities to purchase all electricity generated through solar, wind, water and geothermal power, among other eco-friendly sources, at fixed rates for up to 20 years. The costs will be passed onto consumers. The government's generous tariff rates have created considerable interest in the sector, with companies rushing to build massive solar and other power plants based on renewable energies.
Two large solar installations went online in Kyoto, Gunma, Niigata and Fukuoka prefectures the same day. Meanwhile, Kyocera Corp. plans to construct a 70-megawatt solar facility in Kagoshima Prefecture and is scheduled to establish a special company to oversee the project later this month. Mitsu…

Oi Reactor Restart Protests Live: Watching History Live

We are watching Oi protests as thousands of demonstrators are dancing, drumming, chanting "Saikado Hantai!" (No Restart!) and making a massive wall of noise outside the Oi nuclear reactors in Osaka. It is after midnight now, and tens of thousands of people from all over the world are watching this on Ustream and other social media. And the protest is still going strong.

It feels a bit like watching the Berlin Wall fall...


Some of the comments in English (there are ten times as many in Japanese!):

Massive respect to the PEOPLE of Japan, wish i could be there in more than spirit
We Japanese are thankful to you who are watching from overseas.
Stop "OI"!!!!!!! No nukes!!
No japanese no cry.
RT if you agree this project. Please save children and moms in Fukushima. They are frightened at 

A heroic deed, saving the whole world. Many thanks from Spain!!
Japan has a…

Cleaning AC Muck

We interrupt our regular* programming here at Kurashi for this public announcement:

Time to clean your air conditioner filters!

I just did, and it was easy. I'm not sure I will need the AC or not this summer, but getting the muck out of the filter is important. Both for my own health, as I don't want to breathe the air that has passed through the grime, but also to save electricity. At least I imagine that it will save electricity, since it will be easier to blow the air through a clean filter.

First picture, I opened the top and took out the filter on the right. The left filter is still dirty.

Second picture, wash the filter to get rid of the black thick mucky grime (do not flush it down the drain, better to dry it and throw it in the garbage).

Third picture, enjoy the difference!

* It is the thought that counts, right?

Why I Love Classical Music: Shostakovich 10, A Love Story...

...And a really hot conductor from Venezuela that I briefly introduced last weekend. Now, how do you do a proper blog post about a Soviet era composer, who had been in lots of trouble over the years, and love, and then end up with a Venezuelan conductor that gets his orchestra to play the Mambo to an ecstatic audience at The BBC Proms?


Back in 1953, Joseph Stalin had just died, which meant that for a brief moment, the USSR was having second thoughts about a lot of his policies (It also meant the end of hostilities in Korea as there would be no more military support from Moscow to Pyongyang, and thus a new era for the Far East). Shostakovich, who had been censured and blacklisted by the brutal dictator Stalin who had ruled the Soviet Union for 31 years; now Shostakovich could shine again.

His 10th Symphony was that: about freedom, and love. Specifically, about his Platonic love for a young pianist and composer from Azerbaijan, Elmira Nazirova, who was born in 1928 to an Azer…