Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sequels in Jan 2015

January 26, 2015
Anti-austerity won the election in Greece

The new administration is proceeding to change the direction. It is still unclear whether Greece will remain in Euro zone.

The Washington Post: Greece really might leave the euro

January 21, 2015
Islamic State takes Japanese hostages

According to the media, IS released a photo in which Yukawa was dead. They demanded the release of Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a terrorist detained in Jordan and sentenced to the death penalty for attempted suicidal attack. Jordan is willing to accept the request in exchange for the release of Muadh al-Kasasbeh, a Jordan pilot restrained in IS. The negotiation is still ongoing.

The US and the UK have never negotiated with terrorists so far. If this exchange of hostages is established successfully, there is a concern about increased abduction cases in the future. On the other hand, it is also said that many American and British hostages were killed by Islamic Fundamentalists. The outcome of this hostage swap is paid great attention.

The Guardian: Jordan shows that negotiating with terrorists can reap rewards

By the way, some people in Japan made up funny movies and images by processing the movie uploaded by IS. Their works were gathered as "Kuso-Kora Grand Prix" (Shit collage Grand Prix). It ignited domestic criticism for indiscretion. On the other hand, some foreign media deemed their works as a protest against terrorism through discriminating their brute behaviors. Some IS members were banned from Twitter because they blamed the collages with too discriminating words.

The Daily Dot: Japan's silly response to ISIS propaganda did what the U.S. government couldn't

It is interesting because I guess most of the creators had no political intention. Some activities on the internet often influence on foreign culture unintentionally.  

January 12, 2015
Crocodile bile kills 56 people in Mozambique

I read an article that crocodile bile is not poisonous, although some people in Mozambique believe it.

Forbes: Deadly 'Crocodile Bile' Brew Poison Identity Inconclusive, Says Mozambique Official

The Washington Post: At least 72 in Mozambique are dead after drinking ‘poisoned’ beer. Is crocodile bile to blame?

Why and how the victims were murdered in this event remains to be clarified. Some glycosides, methanol, or pesticides are suspected as ingredient, estimated from the symptoms appeared in the victims. The investigation encounters a difficulty due to insufficient resource in national Mozambique public health laboratories.

January 8, 2015
Charlie Hebdo shooting case

Al-Qaeda released a criminal declaration about this case.

It called a global discussion regarding the conflict between the liberty of expression and respect for religious thoughts. The response of the publishers varied; some published the issued image by Charlie Hebdo and others did not. In Japan, some newspaper made an apology for publishing the image afterwards. Many anti-terrorism demonstration were performed in Europe. But in some countries, they were interfered by the government.

Charlie Hebdo continued to publish new issues, owing to support of other publishers. Its sales have grown, opposing to the intention of the shooters.

January 5, 2015
Severe cold

It took more than one week to recover from the cold. I should be careful about my health status.

January 3, 2015
Bad luck brings you cancer

Unsurprisingly, this article received criticism. It is complicated to investigate the validity of the procedure adopted in this research.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Skymark bankrupt

Skymark, the third largest airline company in Japan, applied to Civil Rehabilitation Law, meaning bankruptcy. Its debt came up to 600 million USD.

The president Shinichi Nishikubo resigned as being responsible for this failure. Masakazu Arimori succeeded. Arimori attributed this business failure mainly to weakened yen and a troubled negotiation with Airbus in an interview.

Reuters: UPDATE 3-Japanese carrier Skymark files for bankruptcy, blames Airbus

It is thankful that paralysis of the flights due to the default was avoided, according to the explanation of Skymark. They will continue to control the traffic currently working. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was struggling in order to the soft-landing toward the failure of Skymark.

Mainichi: Skymark Airlines goes bust after losing ground to major airlines, LCCs

The Japan Times: Skymark to continue operations after filing for court protection

I referred to the situation around Skymark for some times. I was feeling that Skymark was going to ruin, to be honest.

My past entry: Skymark abandon to get Airbus A380

My past entry: Skymark seek to tie-up with JAL

My past entry: Skymark seek also ANA for collaboration

Skymark was an ambitious company to compete with the big carriers, JAL and ANA. Nishikubo identified Skymark as an inhibitor against inflexible boarding fee at a high level in domestic flight. He repeatedly conducted aggressive tactics for raising efficacy of business management. Some of his attempts were criticized, such as a sexual costume of flight attendants.

My past entry: Sexual costumes of flight attendants

I do not like Skymark very much, in my experience. Nonetheless, this result is so sorry. Many Japanese seem to think that sky trip must be a luxury, but I do not agree with this idea. Cheaper options are essential for convenience and quality control in every industry.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

French court does not admit chocolate name for children

There is a strange court decision about naming of a child reported in France.

The Guardian: Nutella not a girl’s name, French court rules

In this case, the parents of a girl attempted to name their daughter "Nutella". It is a famous brand of hazelnut chocolate in France. However, the family court did not permit the naming because such a strange name would cause the girl being bullied in the future.

Surprisingly, she was renamed to "Ella" by the court, because the parents did not appear in court, according to LA VOiX DU NORD.

LA VOiX DU NORD: « Nutella », « Fraise »: le tribunal de Valenciennes refuse les prénoms de deux bébés (in French)

In France, the variation of the naming had been limited to several popular ones until 1993, I mentioned in the past. After the regulation was relaxed, parents can name their children as they want. But the public officials can allege the case to the family court if they think that the name is potentially harmful to the interest of the child.

My past entry: Naming a child

I feel that French legislation is a little inclined to socialism. On the other hand, it is unclear why the parents were absent at the court. Anyway, I hope the happiness of the issued child.

Naming is a great matter for everyone. The manner of naming depends highly on the culture in each country. I feel that many American and British people share the given name, unlikely in Japan. I wonder it is a risk of misidentification, especially as they frequently use first names.

On the other hand, some people hate their name so much that they attempt to rename themselves. Drag queens were focused on the real-name policy of Facebook recently. Considering the fact that the modern society is vulnerable and rapidly changing, flexibility of altering names should be accepted in the future. Since biological certification will be realized for exact identification of individuals, the meaning of a unique name will shrink.

My past entry: Real-name policy of Facebook and gender minorities

By the way, I disliked my name "Akihiro" in my childhood. "Aki" means "bright", and "Hiro" means "big" in Japanese, but I did not think I was a bright and big boy. After grown up, my opinion gradually changed. I am now thankful to my parents for giving "Akihiro" as my name.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Japanese women's cosmetic style reflect social economy

Shiseido, a popular cosmetic maker in Japan, published an idea that the cosmetic style of Japanese women reflects contemporary economic situation.

According to Shiseido, it investigated the trend of women's cosmetics for a century, finding the phenomena that their shades of lipstick become brighter in a boom, they draw eyebrow thinner in a recession on the other hand.

South China Morning Post: Japanese women wearing brighter shades of lipstick means economy is doing well, study finds

A spokesperson of Shiseido said that this research was so unique that there were no similar foreign studies. He also mentioned to the possibility of predicting the future through cosmetic trends of Japanese women according to another article in Japanese.

This result is interesting but seems too ordinary to surprise us. We are willing to make up in optimistic mood. Being anxious about economic status, we may dare not to behave gorgeously.

In addition, we should not forget the fact that leading companies often promote social trends. When the economy is growing, cosmetic companies perform various advertisement to create a new fashion, to make the costumers spend more money. Vibrant colors and highly impressive figures are likely to be chosen to attract attention of the consumers. In contrast, companies tend to reduce the cost of advertisement in a depressive tide of the economy. As a result, odd and eccentric fashions are unlikely to emerge, leading women to natural make-up styles.

Whether women's cosmetics can predict the future movement of the economy is complex. A common idea is that women change their makeup style following the tide of the economy, not the opposite. However, women are functioning as modifiers of the economy, as well as the observers of it. It is possible that the market recovers because many women become active. To prove the causing relationship of them, an extremely well-structured survey would be required.

I am disappointed to notice that this research seems not adhere to the academic standard. It is merely an advertisement of Shiseido. Nevertheless, its statement is a little enjoyable, ignoring its inaccuracy. It also published the history of cosmetic style of Japanese women and suggested the future trend at the Tokyo Olympic in 2020.

My Navi News: Shiseido prospects future cosmetic trend at the Tokyo Olympic, replicating the history of women's cosmetic as well (in Japanese)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

World obesity map

The world map of obesity was published.

It is well known that the US is suffering from obesity as a national problem. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had published the map of obesity in the US in 2010.

"Fat maps" show where the obesity epidemic has hit the United States hardest

Now, one-third of American and one-fourth of British are obese, according to the CIA. In addtion, there are higher proportions of obesity observed in some islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Gizmodo: How Fat the World Is, Visualized

American Samoa is the worst of the ranking, with 75% of the population reported as obese. One of the reasons for broadened obesity in Pacific islands is that Western diets have been brought to these countries by colonization, experts say.

Mail Online: How fat is YOUR country - and which nations have the highest obesity rates? These new maps may surprise you...

I am in the UK, seeing some obese citizens. But I do not feel that one-fourth of British is obese. It is no doubt that Japanese are not so obese compared to Western people. The proportion of obesity in Japan is only 5%.

Diet in Japanese has also been westernized. We are fond of eating bread and pasta. A large portion of fish has been replaced by meat on the dining table. Nonetheless, Japanese do not eat a large amount of meal. I felt American meal, but not English, was too big to eat completely on a business trip.

The likelihood of obesity highly depends on individual constitution. It is said that some black people are likely to store the fat they take. In an ethnically homogeneous group of people, some have more risk of obesity than others. Although dietitians always recommend us reduction of intake and regular exercise, the effect of such efforts considerably differs from each other, unfortunately.

Globalization is rapidly growing. But our constitution hardly changes in a short time. We should be cautious in altering our lifestyle.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Anti-austerity won the election in Greece

Yesterday, a general election was performed in Greece. As a result, anti-austerity Syriza party achieved a great victory.

Syriza is radical leftists opposing to austerity policy that has been proceeded by ruling New Democracy party (ND) following the suggestion by the EU and IMF. Syriza has won near to the majority of the seats in the diet. It is searching another party to make a coalition.

The Guardian: Greece elections: anti-austerity Syriza party sweeps to stunning victory

It is likely that crucial spending cuts during these some years harmed the citizens in Greece. Social security, health insurance, wages of officials were considerably reduced. It is no doubt that the policy of ND was unpopular to citizens.

However, the origin of this issue is the financial maltreatment continuously behaved by the Greece government. Large amount of debt and false reports regarding the economic situation brought the whole EU a crisis. The previous general election was a touchstone to evaluate the sincerity of Greece. The victory of ND relieved not only many European people but also investors in other countries. Citizens in Greece could not stand it anymore.

This winning of Syriza is definitely a risk of finance. Syriza is willing to negotiate EU and IMF for postponement of returning the debt. But persuasion will be hardly successful. I am wondering Syriza has an elixir to recover Greece without deteriorating pain.

In general, Southern Europeans are more optimistic and epicurean than Northern. Whenever I visited Italy, I was surprised to see the people so looking pleasured. On the other hand, Greek people looked not so delighted, but either not so pessimistic. It was impressive that the sun was extremely shiny in Greece. It was the most important difference from Northern Europe, I think.

My past entry: Journey to Greece (2)

I am not sure the new government will overcome this crisis responding the voice of voters to cry for help. In my personal feeling, EU legislation is too strict for Greece to adhere. Greece is not Germany. It is not surprising if Greece will withdraw from EU in the near future.

By the way, Japan is similar to Greece in terms of financial status. Although there are many differences between two countries, the case in Greece is somewhat suggestive to Japanese.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tattoo seal saves diabetes

Finger pricking examination will be replaced by a tattoo.

(By the way, this person has tattooed a Kanji which means "raw." Why it was selected?)

An engineer of the University of California, San Diego developed an attachment device. It looks like a tattoo seal. Sticking to the skin, it enables to measure the blood glucose level.

Gizmodo: A Rub-On Tattoo for Diabetics Could Mean the End of Finger Pricking

Conventionally, patients with diabetes mellitus have to examine their blood glucose level every day using a pin pricking device. Its needle penetrates your skin to bleed you a little. As I tried it once for an experience, it was quite annoying even if not so hurt.

Many patients with diabetes withdraw from proper treatment. It leads them to sooner fatality. There are some reasons patients are difficult to continue treatment. They have to abandon sweets, are forced to perform daily exercise. Medication is also bothering. In addition, I think that daily blood examination is also a troublesome ritual for them.

This new tattoo seal cause less pain. Yet I am not sure how many times they have to change the seal in a week, the frequency may be less than daily. If so, the suffering of patients will be considerably mitigated. Furthermore, it is superior to bleeding examination in terms of prevention of infection.

In the future, I hope a device to be invented which senses the blood glucose level and release proper amount of insulin automatically. Long acting injection has been already realized in other kind of medication. However, excessive insulin intake during fasting state would be critical. An involvement of a self regulating system in a nano-machine will overcome this challenge.

Diseases are painful, because of its nature. Some treatments are so stressful that the quality of life is damaged. If their agony can be reduced, it is also innovative as well as improvement of the outcome. I expect early realization of this architecture.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pizza is blamed as expected

A research regarding pizza consumption was released from the US recently.

This study was published in Pediatrics, a famous journal in pediatric region, on December 2014. The authors conducted some cohort studies to investigate the relationship between consumption of pizza in children and adolescents and their energy intake.

Los Angeles Times: Experts zero in on pizza as prime target in war on childhood obesity

The result is not surprising at all. Pizza lovers tended to take more calories. Those who have pizza as a snack were more likely to take excessive energy than whom eat pizza as a dinner.

Pediatrics: Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in the United States

Interestingly, the amount of pizza consumption decreased during observational two years in younger children. I guess that children are likely to try various kinds of food and sweets other than pizza.

To be honest, I hardly understand the value of this research, although I hate to disgrace the researchers. Pizza includes the high amount of carbonate and fat. It is no doubt that taking much pizza is potentially harmful to your health.

In addition, this is an observational study. It is unclear what will happen if they are prohibited to take the pizza. Dietitians would tell parents not to let children eat much pizza to prevent them from obesity. But they might seek for alternative foods such as hamburgers or fried chickens. Otherwise, it is possible that obese children may have gained weight without pizza because of their particular constitution.

Matter of nutrition cause sometimes such a discussion. It is not realistic to conduct longitudinal interventional research regarding nutrition because of potential harm caused by continuous maladaptive intervention. It leads the difficulty of establishing a decisive theory.

Political conflicts also make it complex. Popular foods such as pizza and hamburgers are frequently blamed as a cause of obesity. It is not rational to attribute the cause of obesity, a nationwide problem for Americans, to a certain sort of food. There are many factors to contribute to gaining weight, so that diet is rarely successful.

My past entry: McDonald's in London

Anyway, there is no free lunch as a slimming method. All you have to do is eating properly.

My past entry: The only way to maintain your body weight properly

Friday, January 23, 2015

Regular delivery services

In the UK, some subscription services have become popular.

They are not e-magazines I wrote in the past. Many commodities are subjected to the regular subscription services, not limited to newspaper and food, but sanitary goods are also available.

In Japan, I had been utilizing a food delivery service. It enabled me to take fresh meal everyday without annoying shopping. Such services often suggest some new products we have not tried yet, giving us an opportunity to taste a new cuisine. It is an advantage of regularly delivering.

In the UK, I have tried a sweets delivery service. Unfortunately, their products are not attractive for me.

Someone introduced a Japanese sweets delivery service. It looks impressive. Some products are quite traditional in Japan; others are rarely found even in Japan. I wonder who the customers are. Perhaps, some British enthusiasts of Japanese sweets are willing to make a contract, as well as Japanese residents in the UK.

Commodities fit regular delivery service. Who would like to go out for toilet rolls every week? Sanitary goods and condoms are also good candidates for delivery because some people feel embarrassed to buy ones at the store. Cooking oil, wrappings, and cleaning tools are potentially suitable for delivery.

However, I am afraid regarding the low performance of delivery in the UK. I have experienced some troubles about it. A pizza delivery took 1.5 hours. A parcel from Japan was nearly to be lost. frequently delay the estimated delivery time. To be honest, it is difficult for me to trust the whole delivery system in the UK.

Regular delivery services are advantageous for the providers because regular income is guaranteed. But adapting the tastes of each customer is challenging. I wonder this kind of services will grow much more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Windows 10 for free, and 3D glasses

Microsoft was forced to change its strategy.

It published the planning to offer Windows 10, the successor of Windows 8.1, for free to current users.

Reuters: Microsoft to give away Windows 10, unveils hologram glasses

It is noteworthy that the "current users" include Windows 7. Many users believed that the new interface provided by Windows 8 would be the mainstream in the near future. They have been betrayed, as a result. Windows 10 will adopt many features similar to Windows 7, rather than Windows 8.

My past entry: Windows 10 coming, not 9

Google has provided Android and Chrome OS for free for a long time. It made many hardware makers easy to develop the laptops and tablets with low cost. Apple does not permit the use of iOS and Mac OS to other companies. But it also offers updating iOS for free to users of iPhone and iPad.

On the other hand, Microsoft had sold many packages of each new Windows OS every time it releases the new versions. Users and PC providers had to buy the license fee. Recently, Microsoft began to offer Windows for free exclusively to developing countries. It seems to aim to gain the new market. However, the strategy of free offering of Windows 10 is different from this.

One of the aim of Microsoft it to eliminate Windows 8 so soon. It has very bad reputation, similar to Windows Vista. Microsoft cannot leave this situation so long. Many users are hesitating to replace Windows 7 to 8. They may be senior users of Microsoft. If direct updating from Windows 7 to 10 were not available, they would abandon Windows.

It is quite bitter for Microsoft not to earn money with OS updating. Now, large market share of Microsoft Office is the only advantage of it.

By the way, Microsoft released a new product called "Microsoft HoloLens." It enables us to see the 3D graphics. I am not sure if is is attractive. Oculus precedes in this kind of architecture. I think that 3D glasses provide us fantastic visions, but get rid of the liberty of any other behaviors while wearing it. We cannot have a dinner while watching a 3D movie. For this reason, computer gaming or other usages on which we have to concentrate will be primary targets for it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Islamic State takes Japanese hostages

Islamic State (IS), a rebel group in Syria released a video to threaten Japan with the lived of two hostages.

They demanded $200 million for the lives of the hostages, naming directly the Prime Minister (PM) of Japan. The amount of ransom is equal to the money Japan declared to pay for humanitarian support to some Middle East countries recently. It seems that IS deems this aid as hostile to Islamic fundamentalism.

The two hostages were suspected to be caught last Autumn. Haruna Yukawa, captured by IS last August, is actually a strange person. He said having established a private military company, but there are no records of such activities. His life seems enigmatic. Kenji Goto is a journalist who is eager to report the current situation of conflicting regions. He went to Syria to contact with Yukawa. They got acquaintance with each other a couple of years. Goto has saved Yukawa once from captivation by another armed group.

Shinzo Abe, the PM of Japan commented that Japan would never change the policy regarding the Middle East, suggesting to refuse paying the ransom. The persuasion for release of the hostages has remained difficult since Yukawa was captured.

As a Japanese, I truly hope the safety of the hostages and rapid solution of this case. However, my forecasting is rather pessimistic. One of the aims of organizations of Islam Fundamentalists is to attract the attention of the media to infiltrate their ideology over the world. Indeed, several years ago, they executed Japanese hostages.

On the other hand, the probability that Japan government will pay the ransom is quite low. The amount of the money they have demanded is so much to match the annual income of them. If Japan pay, many countries will criticize Japan for supporting such an evil organization.

It is complicated to decide the reaction to terrorists. The US and the UK never obey the demand of them. It leads to more victimization of the citizens. Instead, some European countries use special negotiators in some urgent cases. Even in the UK, some families have paid the ransom personally. Giving the money to terrorists makes them more strong. In a longitudinal view, it must be inappropriate. However, it is not easy to tell the hostages and their families to abandon their own survival for the future of the world.

It is obvious that Japanese are not accustomed to such a tough case. Some people say that acquiring collective self-defense brought such a case. They seem to believe that letting sleeping dogs lie will keep Japan peaceful. I cannot understand their opinion. Keeping not involved in any conflicts in the world is not realistic as a nation. We have to decide the attitude against such conflicts occurring in the world.

My past entry: Japan has right of collective self-defense


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Poor sleep is a risk of alcoholism?

Sleep disturbance is a great problem for many people. It is a matter of attention for psychiatrists as I also mentioned previously.

My past entry: Five essences for beautiful sleep

My past entry: Sleep science

Very recently, a study regarding sleep in adolescents was published in an academic journal. The result was that poor sleep in adolescent predicted several risk of mental problems such as excessive alcohol taking. The authors emphasize the importance of education regarding proper sleep in youths.

Los Angeles Times: Poor sleep in adolescence predicts future problems, study says

Time: Study: Teens Who Get Less Sleep More Vulnerable to Drinking Problems

This article is available at the website of the journal, but, unfortunately, not for free.

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

I have not read the whole article, but this result is persuasive, for many people begin to rely on alcohol to overcome insomnia, causing alcohol dependence in a longer term. It seems a prospective cohort study in which thousands of adolescents were subjected. Its advantage is that the causal relationship between sleep time and mental problems in the future can be highly estimated, compared to retrospective study methods.

However, there are some possibilities to explain this result. Those who take poor sleep may have organic problems that are potentially causing further mental problems. If so, Educational intervention is not beneficial for adolescents at high risk to prevent mental problems.

Methodologically, identifying such modulators is not easy. A randomized controlled trial can the actual effect of the intervention. However, it is time-consuming to conduct longitudinal clinical trial. Ethical issues also have to be considered.

On the other hand, I have heard a hypothesis that adolescents hardly sleep by nature. They tend to be awake until midnight regardless of environmental stimulation. I am not sure if this idea is correct. I have been a good sleeper since I was a child.

Another matter is the modern environment. We have many things to do at midnight, both for business and entertainment. Research show that Japanese is the people who have the shortest sleep. There are some reasons for it, perhaps also both the business and entertainment. In such a society, having more sleep can be disadvantageous.

We can do nothing while sleeping, whereas sleep is essential for survival. There are still many mysteries around sleep.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crowd Funding in research

Nowadays, crowd funding is paid attention by entrepreneurs. Kickstarter is a popular website in which you can ask for money to worldwide investors. It is obvious that successful collection of the money is not easy. Nevertheless, not a few venture projects have launched through cloud funding.

Crowd funding is not limited to the purpose for business. Some researchers are eager to gain budget to achieve their goal of research.

The Washington Post: Crowdfunding propels scientific research

Previously, most of the researchers were given budget using official funds provided by the government. Developed countries had a considerable amount of budget for developing newly scientific research in many regions. Their money originated from the tax. Recently, however, many nations are suffering from the economic crisis. Taxpayers also have become strict to the expenditure determined by the government. Therefore, it is more difficult for researchers to rely on official funds to proceed their research than in the past.

Instead, some researchers are keen to advertise their products for gathering money from companies and investors. Crowd funding is one option for this purpose. Some scientists were successful to attract the interests of many people.

The movement of crowd funding for researchers also emerged  in Japan. Tomohiko Sato, a geologist in Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), won the budget to perform excavation in China via Academist, the first Japanese crowd funding site for researchers.

Academist (in Japanese)

Since Obokata fabrication case, many Japanese scientists have lost reputation, and are deemed questionable in terms of the research skills. It is important for researchers not only to engage in research sincerely but also to explain their appropriateness broadly. Crowd funding is consistent with this policy because it is essential for successful funding that many audiences admit the value of the research.

Crowd funding is advantageous for young and ambitious researchers, because administrators of conventional official funds tend to avoid risks.

On the other hand, the contents that are attractive and easy to visualize are likely to be approved for crowd funding. There are much fundamental, but indispensable research for further development of science, most of which are difficult to understand for non-experts. Such research would be not focused. As a result, researchers who perform only momentary and superficial research are advantageous.

In my opinion, researchers, including me, have to explain the value of own research precisely with smooth words. Those who can make a conversation only to other experts will be perished. On the other hand, there is a necessity to invest resource in some research that is doubtful to gain profit in a short term. Innovation is always not predictable.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Swiss Franc shock

This week, Swiss franc and other currencies were terribly shaken by the decision of the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

Swiss was suffering from too strong Swiss franc because it had made their exports expensive. The situation was similar to Japan before Abenomics.

Then, the SNB began to intervene the currency to maintain the rate at around 1.20 to the euro on September 2011. As a means, the SNB determined to buy euro by unlimited amount. However, it meant that the SNB was forced to acquire a giant pile of foreign currencies leading to potential loss.

Finally, the SNB decided to discontinue this policy ceiling on the franc.

Quartz: Absolutely everything you need to understand what happened to the Swiss franc this week

Thomas Jordan, the president of the SNB, said that the policy fixing the exchange rate was no longer sustainable. He emphasized that this decision was done based on a deliberate consideration.

The Financial Times: SNB governor Jordan explains shock franc move

It was expected that the European Central Bank (ECB) would decide additional monetary easing next week. Therefore, the SNB had to state the abandonment before the announcement of the ECB.

Some economists guess that the SNB underestimated the influence of its decision, although Jordan denied it. Indeed, Swiss franc became strong by 40% temporally, and Euro rapidly fell. JPY was raised in accordance to the falling of euro. Stockpiles in Swiss were also damaged. It is afraid that the deflation would be worsening in Swiss.

International Business Times: Switzerland Underestimated Effect Of Currency Move On Swiss Franc

I was surprised that one policy change has caused such a great influence on the world economy. Some investors may be inflicted a critical damage this week. It seems extremely difficult, even for a central bank, to keep the financial market stable.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Monthly subscription model in journals and books

Recently, several publishers have begun to launch the service of the regular subscription.

Of course, there have been many magazines to offer regular delivery service. However, the business models seem to be changing.

"Next Issue" is an innovative service launched in the US last year. If you register with cost of 9.99 USD in a month, you can read over one hundred of magazines as much as you wish. Forbes, Fortune, Mac World, and so many titles are included to be offered. Premium service subscribers can also access Time, Newsweek, New Yorker, and so on with 14.99 US$ monthly.

Unfortunately, it is available only in the US and Canada now. A credit card issued in the US is necessary. I expect the service will be extended to outside the US soon.

Next Issue

Inkle offers you daily subscription and curation of newspaper service. Several articles are delivered to your e-mail address every day. You can read the top news of The Guardian, Washington Post, and some popular newspaper with 10 US$ monthly.

I tasted it using a month free trial. It was a splendid experience. However, considering the current situation that many news articles are readable for free on the internet, it costs a bit expensive.


Unlimited subscription services are not limited to magazine and newspaper. Some companies started book reading services. In the past, I mentioned to Kindle Unlimited with a critical point of view.

My past entry: Immature Kindle Unlimited

Oyster and Scribd are similar to Kindle Unlimited. Both offer thousands of the books with a monthly subscription. I have registered Scribd and now am enjoying it. It offers me many Audiobooks as well. Oyster is still available only in the US, unfortunately.

My past entry: Look back to 2014 (2)

Marvel also offers unlimited subscription service. It seems to have an impact on lovers of American comics. It looks a fun club rather than the subscription service by a publisher.

My past entry: Marvel Unlimited, a great online comics service

So, there are many collective subscription services. Also in Japan, some publishers began similar services. The situation means, ironically, the reduced sales of books and magazines. Publishers feel the limitation of current business models. Few people are willing to buy a paper magazine in a store. Instead, there are some people who love to read books and magazines. Publishers are eager to enclose them using regular subscription.

On the other hand, these new business models are strict for writers. In some services, publishers pay the reward to the writers with calculation of the members who downloaded each book or magazine. It means that the writers can get money only when their works are consumed. Other books and magazines in the service group will be competitors for writers.

I am not sure these services will survive the era. I am thankful to get many opportunities to get a touch with many articles with low cost. But it is difficult to predict the future of the culture of publishing.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Suicide is decreasing in Japan

National Police Agency of Japan published the number of suicide in 2014.

According to the official report, cases of suicide have been reduced for several years.

I have written several times about this issue. Japan is still a country in which many suicides occur every year. However, there is a tendency of decline in suicide rate recently.

My past entry: Suicide in Japan

My past entry: Reduction of suicide in 2012 in Japan

Why suicides were reduced is not definitely clear. The fact that a long lasting recession has been stopped due to Abenomics is considerably persuasive. Although the economic policies of ruling Abe administration is still debated, it is true that employees have been increased and stock prices have grown. In 1999, suicide cases were rapidly increased in accordance with the beginning of recession. Today's degree has returned to the same as before 1999.

Mainichi: Suicides decline in Japan for 5th straight year

At the same time, the population of Japan is going to decrease. It will also influence the cases of suicide. The earthquake and Tsunami disaster in 2011 might have affected the attitude of Japanese. Several factors must be relevant to this change.

Interestingly, some media have a pessimistic opinion about the suicide rate in the future. Indeed, recent economic measures suggest that Japan is proceeding to another recession. If Abenomics results in a failure, it will bring only more debts without any fruits to Japanese. It means nothing but a nightmare.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Recession hurts Japan’s fight to change suicide culture

The Japan Times: Japan’s rising economy results in fewer suicides, but recession might reverse that (mirroring the above article)

Mental health practitioners should be keen to help people around them. However, a bigger point of view is also required. We have to construct an optimized system to prevent suicides in accordance with the status of our society.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Japan as the worst for women

According to research, Japan is the worst country for women to be active in the society.

This research was done in partnership with Data Morphosis Group based on 2014 data. As a result, women held only 3% of board of director seats among largest companies in Japan. In contrast, the percentage was 36 in Norway.

Bloomberg: Japan Worst, Norway Best for Women on Corporate Boards

Indeed, I was a little surprised that so many women occupied important positions in European countries, when I began to contact with foreign researchers several years ago. On the other hand, there are only few female professors in Japan. I was taught by an old ophthalmologist who was the first female professor in medical schools in Japan. When she was asked for an interview by the media, she rejected to answer in the context as the only female medical professor. It was an obvious result for her to become a professor just because she earned splendid outcomes in her research.

There may be some reasons why women are difficult to participant in Japanese society. Cultural background may contribute to the current situation. However, it cannot explain the difference in countries. It is not only in Japan for women to have been troubled in business.

Some people indicate the shortage of aiding maternity and working mothers. Many employers hesitate to employ women who can be potentially pregnant soon. In addition, single mothers are often seriously discriminated. As a result, women are forced to choose whether working or nurturing.

Traditionally, Japanese society has focused on the role of genders. Thus, husbands have to earn money, and wives should stay home. Husbands who are not working are also disgraced in Japan. However, it is unclear when such a "traditional role of genders" was established, as well as why Japanese are concerned to this ideology.

Nowadays, definitive discrimination for women does not exist in Japan. Nevertheless, women are discriminated implicitly. This invisible barrier is hardly to be overcome. To make change the current situation, some concrete standards such as an affirmative action are necessary, even if not the bast solution.

On the other hand, Japanese women are getting stronger in an individual level as I wrote in the past. We can collaborate with each other for the better future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Afternoon Tea in London

One of the habits I got interested in some years is the afternoon tea. Many restaurants offer a variety of the tea with some snacks such as finger sandwiches and scones. It gives me a precious time with elegant flavors.

Also in Japan, some famous hotels offer the afternoon tea. But there are enormous place we can enjoy the afternoon tea in England as the origin of this habit. Usually, you can test several kinds of tea as much as you wish.

I use this site to book a seat. Seasonal sales are frequently provided.

Here, I will introduce some places offering the afternoon tea I tried.

Strand Palace Hotel
Atmosphere was good. I chose a cream tea without sandwiches there.

Montague on the Gardens - Bloomsbury
In London I visited there for an afternoon tea for the first time. You can test the flavors of the tea leaves before you order it. Finger sandwiches tasted great, and can refilled for free. However, the sweets were not good, a little too sweet.

Richoux Piccadilly
In this tearoom, I could select a piece of cake among a large variety. The cost was reasonable. It is sorry that refilling tea costs an extra charge.

Hilton London Green Park
Tea leaves were excellent. Sweets were also well Although sandwiches were not so good, I was satisfied there very in total.

Kingsway Hall Hotel
It was relatively inexpensive. Some tea leaves were served using a tea-bag. I recommend peppermint tea. It was a bit cold in the room.

Savoy is a world famous hotel. Its tearoom was gorgeous. A pianist played the piano near to me. You can choose 30 kinds of leaves. Meals were also great. It is quite expensive.

Savoy offers also the high tea. This course includes salmon egg instead a series of cakes.

I will try another cup of tea soon.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Like on the Facebook tell your personality

Computer can assess your personality more precisely than a human, do you believe it?

Stanford University published a result of research in which the participants were investigated by human and computers. Human investigators guessed the personalities of the participants using ten items questionnaire. On the other hand, the queues given for computer were the data of "Like" the participants took on the Facebook. Human and computers were compared how exactly identify the personality of the participants evaluated with 100 items questionnaire.

Stanford News Service: New Stanford research finds computers are better judges of personality than friends and family

The results, of course, depended on the amount of "Like" provided by the participants. Amazingly, only 10 "Like" offered more precise prediction about the personality of the participants than performed by their colleagues. If 300 "Like" were gathered, the accuracy became superior to their spouses.

This study suggests some important things. Firstly, "Like" is communicative. What we express upon as like is a valuable information to describe our personality. It is the reason the information of "Like" is decisive for marketing.

Secondly, the big data can be a basis of artificial intelligence. A total of 300 "Like" is hardly dealt with by human, but the computer can. The importance of the big data will become worthy much more, in accordance with the improvement of the ability of the computers.

On the other hand, this study has some disadvantages. In this study, human investigators could ask only ten questions to the participants to evaluate their personality. It would be a handicap. In a real situation, we assess the personality of a certain person with various methods: what he wear, how he speaks, facial expression, and his atmosphere. It is not fair for human not to utilize this information.

It is questionable that the golden standard for the evaluation of the personality was a 100 items questionnaire. Today, standardized personality questionnaires equip more questions. For example, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is composed of 550 questions. Nevertheless, it is not adequate to evaluate the total personality of a human.

Anyway, computed analyses have become more common in the modern era. We should utilize such new methods for a better life.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Crocodile bile kills 56 people in Mozambique

There is a little strange tragedy occurred in Mozambique. Fifty-six people were killed accidentally, and 49 were also admitted to the hospitals.

According to the media, the victims attended a funeral on that weekend. Homemade beer was delivered at the dinner, which seemed poisoned.

The Guardian: Contaminated beer at funeral kills 56 in Mozambique

It is suspected that crocodile bile was contaminated in the beer. I am not sure how much crocodile bile is harmful to human. Since bile acid has surface active function, similar to soap, it may be poisonous when taken a large amount.

By the way, I was surprised that the authorities identified the ingredient as crocodile bile. I wonder such incidents frequently occur in Mozambique. If this case had happened in Japan, it would have been difficult to identify the poison, despite of the excellent ability of Japanese police investigators.

The motive of the perpetrator remains still unknown. It is impossible that the beer was contaminated accidentally. Someone intended to kill, or at least make suffer to the attendants of the funeral.

I hope the case will be resolved soon.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Liberty of publication, a case of Delauter and Frederic News-Post

A battle between a politician and the media emerged in the US. Kriby Delauter, a County Councilman, posted on his Facebook that he had not authorized his name on Frederick News-Post, upsetting with the articles. He wrote that he would plan to pursue legal action if the media continue to refer to him.

His comments ignited a hostility of the Post. It published sequential articles to discuss the matter, of course mentioning to the name of Delauter.

The Frederic News-Post: Delauter to The News-Post: Don't use my name without permission

Delauter finally had no choice other than apologizing to the Post admitting his comments were inappropriate.

The Baltimore Sun: Delauter apologizes for threatening reporter: 'My statement ... was wrong and inappropriate'

The series of argument is quite common also in Japan. The media sometimes make an article in which some statements of the politicians were misinterpreted. The issued politicians have to explain the intention on their own words. It seems an annoying task. I understand their discomfort.

Politicians are public persons. Their behaviors are always watched by the media. censorship on power is one of the roles of the media. However, it does not mean that the media are permitted to write anything.

Nevertheless, it is not acceptable to make the media shrink with threatening. In South Korea, a responsible employee of a Japanese media was accused for defamation, as I wrote. It is an extreme case suggesting the conflict between the power and the media. I do not support the legal action by the Korean government. Compared to Korea, the liberty of publication is well respected in the US, I think. This is the reason why Delauter had to surrender.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hacking without internet

Georgia Institute of Technology are warning the risk of hacking. According to them, laptops and smartphones are leaking the signal including important personal data, even if they are not connected to the internet.

They published the results of the research at the 47th Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture in Cambridge, U.K. They demonstrated the measurement of side channel emissions from the device with several tools, replicating the password the user inputted at a distance.

Georgia Tech: Researchers work to counter a new class of coffee shop hackers

Electronic devices make several invisible products, such as noise, light, and electric wave. But they are so tiny that it seems impossible to extract meaningful information from them. In this experiment, combination of gathering methods enabled gaining critical information from devices.

A Practical Methodology for Measuring the Side-Channel Signal Available to the Attacker for Instruction-Level Events

This is surprising at a glance. But, usage of the device in a public space is no more safe, to begin with. There is a greater risk of social engineering - being peeped. Secret work is not recommended at a cafe. Usual attention should be much prioritized at the moment.

On the other hand, imagining the situation that criminals are willing to gather the personal information such as credit card numbers is annoying. Product makers should prepare to reduce the risks in the future. Devices unlikely to radiate an electric wave may be also eco-friendly.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Mass killing cases in hospital by German nurse

A thrilling repeated murders case is still under judgment.

An ex-nurse admitted that he killed 30 patients with overdosing injection in the trial. He is suspected to have taken the hundreds of lives for some years. The motive of such cruel behavior was to improve the resuscitation skills, according the  defendant. He had been sentenced to imprisonment for an attempted murder in the past.

BBC: German nurse 'admits killing 30' with fatal overdoses

If proven to be guilty, this case series may be the worst after WW II occurred in the clinical setting. The defendant is possible to have Münchhausen Syndrome by Proxy. It means that he did harm others to gain some external attention to himself. Münchhausen Syndrome by Proxy is seen in a parent abusing children. But I have not heard the case in which patients were subjected, except in a novel.

After the defendant was employed in the hospital, unexplained death cases occasionally happened. Of course, some inevitable deaths occur in a hospital. However, the defendants confessed to having killed 30 patients for two years. It is surprising that he had not been suspected for a long time.

Unfortunately, some medical practitioners feel omnipotent in a particular situation. For example, sedating patients with an anesthetic injection, we find the patients immediately lose his consciousness. It is as if we encounter the miracle of medical science. In addition, both circulation and respiration of the patient are controllable with administration of some drugs. It is quite an unnatural scene. And we feel as if we can control over the life of the patient.

However, we should not misunderstand that temporary management of the vital activity of the patient is merely a means of a cure. We are simply medical practitioners, not the God or Devil. We have a responsibility to carry out this operation, as a pilot on the airplane.

I am not sure what the defendant is. There are many practitioners who are likely to take a mistake, many of which can be improved. However, such grandiosity is hardly to be eliminated. It may be impossible to permit him again to close to the hospital, forever.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo shooting case

The office of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, was attacked by men with firearms on Jan 7 2014. A total of 12 people, 10 journalists and 2 polices, were killed The shooters said that it was an avenge for the prophet.

The Telegraph: Charlie Hebdo attack: France’s worst terrorist attack in a generation leaves 12 dead

François Hollande, the President of France admitted that this case was an exceptional barbarism. He raised the warning level in Paris to the maximum. Some counterparts in other countries also condemned the shooters seriously.

The Guardian: Fears of turning point for French politics after Charlie Hebdo attack

One of the suspects, a teenager, was arrested. The police is continuing to seek remained ones.

The World Post: Suspect Surrenders In Charlie Hebdo Attack

It is still unclear whether the group of shooters are connecting to an international organization. If so, this incident means a grand defiance against liberty, as many politician are worrying.

CNN: Charlie Hebdo attack: What we know and don't know

The media concerns also to the possibility that Islam-phobia will be exacerbated. Indeed, this incident reminds us the 9.11 terrorism. Although far different in the grade, this kind of massacre can cause uncontrollable fear on human mind. It is little doubt that the French government will become hostile to Islamic people. Immigration policies may be also influenced in some EU countries.

In my opinion, this case was not caused by an organization with clear intention. Perhaps, the criminals were only based on their twisted belief. However, such ruthless and brutal behavior gives them nothing worthy to gain. It is still difficult to solve a religious conflict with rationality. I pray for the victims.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Google auto-driving car to launch

It seems that 2015 is the birth year of Google cars. Singapore is going to introduce some driverless cars for business use. Similar planning is proceeding in the UK and the US.

In Singarpore, the first entry will be like a jitney service. The self-regulating car carries people for a short distance at low speed. It resembles a shuttle connecting platform in an airport, which has been already automated. It seems realistic.

Driving in a town is much more complicated. Accurate GPS is essential for safe driving. Emergency brake will be needed when the system is crippled. The authority cannot permit the service until the system is proven as trustworthy. As a result, auto-driving car will be introduced gradually by the government for a while.

Engadget: Singapore tests self-driving cars you use like taxis UK, US and Singapore testing low speed self driving cars on real city streets

Cars are indispensable for people living in a rural area. We imagine that we can be asleep in the car during going to a shopping center. On the other hand, urban areas will gain some merits by introducing auto-driving cars. It is expected that traffic jam is resolved with auto-regulation system. Of course, accidents due to human errors can be prevented. There are many advantages for populated areas such as Singapore.

On the other hand, if auto-driving car is spread, most professional drivers will lose their jobs. It will hit many immigrants, or lower class population.

When will the first self-driving car run on the public road as usual? I guess it will in some years, at least in some countries. And then, the value of driving license will also be altered gradually.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Roma baby burial issue in France

In France, a racism issue is paid attention. Roma baby was refused to be buried in a municipal cemetery in France, according to the media.

A three-month baby born as Roma died suspected as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The parents asked the authority for permission to bury her. But Christian Leclerc, the Mayor of Champlan, refused it for the reason of short space.

Aljazeera: Anger over French mayor's Roma burial refusal

Mayor explained that the payers of local tax should be prioritized as a user of the cemetery. However, his comments was not interpreted as he expected. Criticism against racial discrimination was ignited soon. Even the President and Prime Minister condemned the decision of the Mayor. At last, the poor girl was buried in a cemetery.

BBC: Roma baby buried in France as probe launched

Roma are an ethnicity of Indian origin, living mostly in Europe and the Americas. Many of them in France are suffering from poverty.

It seems that the authority responded sensitively just after this issue became criticism against racism. I do not think the mayor made such a reckless decision as rejecting Roma.

Prioritizing the tax payers is a fair policy, even not equal. However, there is a large difference between folks in socio-economic status. Many people in the minority have little chance to change their class on their own, in actual situation.

Therefore, affirmative actions are occasionally adopted. Minority groups are given an advantage without exception in this scheme. In this case, if the mayor had prioritized the Roma, he would have not been criticized, even if it was unfair to non-Roma, because the critics would be identified as racists.

On the other hand, affirmative action is also questioned for its efficacy and validity. Michael Sandel is fond of discussing this matter.

In Japan, Korean people living in Japan are sometimes criticized that they are unfairly treated. I am not sure about the exact content of the policy. But some behaviors of the critics are hate speech in this issue. It is shameful. To begin with, we should have a gentle attitude upon this kind of discussion. Also in Japan, graveyards will be exhausting. Similar problem will happen in the near future.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Severe cold

Yesterday, I fell down because of a bad cold. I could not even get up, suffering from severe headache, and experienced a daydream.

Catching a cold is a common event for everyone. But, we are naive to virus causing cold in a foreign region. So, catching a cold in a foreign country often makes us seriously ill. Several years ago, I had a bad experience in Canada.

Cold has been an arch enemy to human for a long time. No one has invented the solution to conquer common cold.

To begin with, "common cold" is not a certain disease. It is a general term for acute upper respiratory viral infection. There are hundreds of viruses to cause respiratory infection. It is almost impossible to identify the virus attacking you when catching a cold.

In Japan, some physicians prescribe some antibiotic drugs to a patient who caught a cold. In a scientific point of view, it is meaningless. Antibiotics are not effective for viral infection. They believe that the prescription can protect the patient from deterioration, although there is no evidence about it.

The most important thing to prevent infection is to keep your throat wet. Viruses are vulnerable to moisture. Gurgling is useful, not for washing, but for moistening.

Anyway, I have to rest for a couple of days. I hope you will not catch a cold.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bad luck brings you cancer

If you have cancer, what do you feel? You may curse your bad luck, or regret your daily habits? Research shows the former is scientifically correct.

In an article published in Science, a popular academic journal, approximately two-thirds of cancers was proven to be a result of a mutation. Only one-third of all cancers was explained with gene and environmental factors.

The Guardian: Two-thirds of adult cancers largely ‘down to bad luck’ rather than genes

Science: The bad luck of cancer

Cancer is one of the strongest enemies for human. We have been struggling to conquer cancer for centuries. Many factors causing cancers are identified. Smoking is obviously a risk of lung cancer. Exposure to sunshine raises the risk of skin cancer. They are preventable with considering daily habits to some extent.

On the other hand, genetic factors are keenly studied recently. Angelina Jolie took a mastectomy for reducing risk of breast cancer, discovering she had a high-risk gene. Such examining are spreading gradually.

The Telegraph: Angelina Jolie's breast cancer announcement doubled number of women being tested: study

However, cell mutation to the cancer cell is absolutely unpredictable. Even if you have no risk factors, it is possible that a bad luck will attack you some day.

This result is very ironical. As a human, we tend to seek a reason for everything, especially in a disastrous event. We cannot accept that we are suffering merely from a hard luck.

The only thing we can is to be thankful for good luck in everyday we can spend.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Kakizome and learning English

In Japan, there is a custom to play a calligraphy on Jan 2, named Kakizome, meaning of the first calligraphy. We write some words or sentences, usually graceful ones with Japanese brush and ink.

To be honest, I disliked calligraphy. In childhood, I was ordered to go to a calligraphy class for some years. But I could not make progress in writing letters with brush.

Calligraphy is no more practical, but remains as a traditional art. Those write beautiful letters with hands are somewhat respected. There is a few professional calligraphers who publish innovative works. However, it is doubtful that calligraphy is a mandatory skill for Japanese.

On the other hand, Japan government is eager to enhance English education in schoolchildren. It is discussed whether English class becomes mandatory in elementary school. Some conservative educationalists are opposing to this policy, as too much early exposure to English may destroy Japanese mentality.

The subjects we should emphasize can be altered in accordance with the change of social situation. Calligraphy is no more important compared to English now, although it seems that traditional culture is underestimated.

On the other hand, I forecast that the technology of machinery translation will change this situation again. Some decades later, it will not be important to learn English because everyone will be able to understand English using a tiny electronic device, perhaps. Then, learning English will be merely an art like calligraphy.