Sunday, April 23, 2017

French Presidential election is approaching

Today, the first round of French Presidential election will be held.

The perspective of French presidential election became more unclear. In a recent, poll, National Front's Marine Le Pen, Republican Francois Fillon, and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Mr. Macron are closely competing.

Telegraph: French presidential election: Poll tracker and odds

On the other hand, Euro rose per dollar recently. It is perhaps because of Donald Trump's unstable comments of North Korean perspective with suggesting the need of weakened USD.

Independent: French election: Euro steady as caution dominates ahead of too-close-to-call vote

François Hollande, the current President of France, abandoned to continue taking his seat because he did not believe he would win the next election. His main intention was not to give the administration to a nationalists party. But whether his decision would be fruitful is quite uncertain.

I cannot prospect the result of the election. The important thing is French people's ideology is now splitting. As a foreigner, I had imagined that most Frenches are rather conservative. Therefore, the fact that Hollande succeeded the seat of Sarkozy was surprising. But now, considerable amount of people are more exclusive than ever before, as well not a few people are critically opposing to it.

As seen in the Brexit vote in the UK and Donald Trump's victory in the US, many nations are wandering for the better exit. Nobody knows the answer. Regardless of the winner of the election, the situation in France will be more chaotic, I am afraid.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Three seconds rule in online shopping

Online shopping is now a very common behavior for citizens in developed countries. Many shopping websites are competing to get customers.

One of the crucial points is the speed of downloading the site. A study suggests there is a threshold of three seconds. If forced to wait over three seconds, viewers are likely to leave this page.

Amazon has understood this rule at the very early stage of the internet era. Indeed, I have no memory of being annoyed by delayed loading of its homepage.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Amazon's 'secret weapon': understanding how website experience can influence shoppers

In general, the more pictures the web page includes, the more time required for the page to appear. But, it is not the only factor to determine the speed of downloading. Some providers, including Amazon, seem to have optimized the structure for quick loading.

Nowadays, the internet speed has been accelerated by hundreds of times. Nonetheless, we are still enslaved by the curse of the speed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Doxycycline may cure PTSD

Doxycycline is a type of antibiotics belonging to tetracycline family. It inhibits bacteria's activity of combining proteins. Tetracyclines are relatively weak as antibiotics. But they are used to wide ranged diseases such as acne and bronchiolitis.

And, recently, a study group in Zurich University discovered a possibility to treat post-traumatic stress disorder with doxycycline.

The Conversation: How we discovered that a common antibiotic may be able to treat post-traumatic stress disorder

It is suggested that doxycycline interferes the brain cells from forming matrix enzyme around them. Matrix enzyme is essential to enhance our memory. On the other hand, symptoms of PTSD are caused by excessively stimulated brain nerves to consolidate painful memories.

Based on this hypothesis, the research team conducted an experiment. In this trial, participants were divided into two groups: taking doxycycline or placebo. Each group took a series of electric shock immediately after seeing a color panel. After completion of this learning session, participants were given the color panel again. The result showed that people having taken doxycycline had less physiological reactions.

This experiment shows limited evidence of the effect of doxycycline. Also, it is necessary for you to take doxycycline before experiencing a traumatic event for preventing the onset of PTSD. But the study team believes that doxycycline has an effect of erasing the negative connection between the bitter memory and painful reaction.

I remember that minocycline, which is also a member of tetracycline family, was expected to prevent neurological damage due to stimulants. The theory of neuroprotective effect of minocycline seems similar to that the researchers above said.

Tetracyclines are very inexpensive. If its effectiveness is proven, its clinical impact on PTSD treatment will be great. But, pharmaceutical companies would not welcome it. They would rather like to sell newly drugs.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Brain stimulation makes you a super soldier?

The brain is still a frontier of human research. There are many unknown activities in each region of the brain.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one of the therapeutic solutions for some brain diseases. Implanting a needle stimulated with electricity to a particular area of the brain can improve some physical and mental symptoms. DBS has been established as a treatment for Parkinson's disease, and also discussed for depression.

And recently, more aggressive usage of DBS seems to be considered in the US army.

Naval Special Warfare Command officials presented the latest result of an experiment. Its goal was to enhance the ability of concentration in soldiers.

International Business Times: Super Soldier: US Navy Seals having their brains zapped to improve shooting ability

The outcome was expecting, according to the report. Participants whose brain was stimulated made an improved performance in a long-term task.

This result is amazing, if true. But, an extreme cautiousness is required in the implementation. In my experience, DBS has several adverse effects, including severe depression leading to a suicide of the patient. As well, longitudinal effects should be examined. Even if electrical stimulation is not carried out, implanting a needle itself causes a change in the brain function. Some people who took the DBS operation experience a considerable change of mood several months after the surgery.

The man-machine interface was just a fantasy until recently. It is real today. We are encouraged to make further progress in this academic region.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Modern rules with electric devices

More than a decade has passed since the internet technology became familiar with our usual life. Our lifestyle was considerably changed due to the development of latest devices, such as the smartphone, tablet, and other gears.

As the use of gadgets is a newborn culture, there are some conflicts and arguments about the manner of using them. Here, five ways which are rather common in citizens but should be reconsidered are introduced.

International Business Times: Emails in bed? Tablet selfies at a concert? Five tech habits you need to kick

The first one, the use of electric devices before going bed, is absolutely harmful, I believe. Several studies suggest that exposure to strong light hinders you from the good sleep. You should avoid watching a display, at least one hour, or two hours, if possible before you wish to sleep. I always mention it when consulting a patient with sleep disturbance.

As well manipulating a smartphone in bed is also no good. The human brain will learn that the bed is not a place for sleep but watching a device. This mislearning brings you insomnia.

Checking emails at home is worth of discussion. In general, employees should not work during off-time, from the perspective of mental health. Through distinguishing the work from your daily activity, your sympathetic nerves can be relaxed at the end of work. The continuous tension of sympathetic nerves can be a cause of cardiac diseases.

However, some people with self-employment job are difficult to ignore business emails at home. As well, employers often have to address various problems suddenly occurred even during their off-time.

The other issues suggested in this article above are rational. Selfie with a tablet is sometimes dangerous for other commuters. Free Wi-Fi spots are possible to be peeped or compromised. And it is no doubt that loud music in a public space is no other than a criminal act.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ketamine, an expecting antidepressant

There are many options to treat depression, as I mentioned repeatedly.

My past entry: Does aspirin destroy your depression?

My past entry: Treatment of depression: multi-angle approach

My past entry: Behavioral Activation is equally effective to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

My past entry: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a new way to protect you from depression

And one of expecting regimens is ketamine, an anesthetic agent.

The result of latest clinical trials suggests the effectiveness and tolerability of ketamine for reducing depressive symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression. The response rate was up to 40%. It is amazing considering the fact only one-third of patients, even who are treatment-naive, respond to initial treatment with an antidepressant.

Independent: Ketamine helps patients with severe depression 'when nothing else works', doctors say

On the other hand, ketamine has a dependency. Some people misuse ketamine as a recreational drug. The indication of ketamine prescription to depressive patients should cautiously be addressed. In Japan, abuse of methylphenidate was issued the other day, leading to the dismissal of it for depression.

As well, its continuity of the antidepressive effect needs to be examined in a longitudinal view. Depression is a disease easy to recur. Though I am not familiar with its clinical usage, ketamine taking for a long term can be harmful. So far, several resolutions have been developed to treat depression. Most of them, however, lack long-term effectiveness, unfortunately.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Canada legalizes marijuana

Canada will be named as a nation in which we can use recreational marijuana legally.

The federal government has decided to legalize the use and sale of marijuana for the recreational purpose by 2018. So far, legal use of marijuana is limited to only medical end. Under the new legislation, a detailed guideline for sale of marijuana will be published. Each provincial government will be able to set a regulation of the age for buying marijuana.

The Guardian: Canada introduces long-awaited legislation to fully legalise marijuana

This legislation seems to have been established for an urgent need of public health. Currently, as the trade of marijuana is prohibited, people rely on the criminal organization for getting marijuana. It is easily estimated that marijuana is one of the core financial sources for antisocial groups. Decriminalized marijuana will lead to the reduced income of such organizations. This structure is mirroring anti-alcohol law in the US.

However, the risk of marijuana to cause mental illnesses is underestimated, I am afraid. Indeed, marijuana is rather a harmless drug among psychotropic substances. Nonetheless, there are patients who are suffering from marijuana psychosis. In the UK, as cannabis use is spread over the country, medical practitioners are enthusiastic to treat the patients to guide them to the life without psychotropic drugs.

In Japan, even medical marijuana is not legalized. Recently, a person who had been suffering from chronic pain was arrested on cultivating marijuana personally. He claimed that he needed marijuana for life free from the pain, so taking marijuana is the human right. The court decision has not been fixed.

In my opinion, medical use of marijuana should be legalized. On the other hand, decriminalizing recreational marijuana is considered with great caution. Even if you do not become psychotic after taking marijuana, it will get rid of your productivity. In Canada, as well as other countries where marijuana has already become familiar, legalization and moderate governmental control of marijuana is a rational option. But generally speaking, I do not agree with the legalization of sucstance with dependency.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Geneva permits topless

In Swiss, women have been allowed to swim in a lake without a bra.

Independent: Women can now swim topless in Lake Geneva as Swiss authorities

Before the new legislation was established, topless women were subjected to the fine up to 70 Swiss Francs. Some women claimed this rule was sexism, as well as inconsistent with that sunbathes topless was permitted.

The authority amended the rule which had been set since 1929 by Geneva's regional council. However, topless swimming in a pool is still illegal.

It is doubtful many women will enjoy topless swimming thanks to this amendment. Some men will rather oppose to the relaxation of the law, perhaps.

Sex discrimination should be banned. But I am not sure if prohibiting bare-breast of women is discriminating.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today's smoking issue

It is now no doubt that smoking is a harmful behavior to human. Most nations are eager to ban smoking habits. Thanks to the anti-smoking campaign, the rate of smoking is gradually reducing.

On the other hand, a recent study suggests that one-tenth of the death in the whole world is attributed to smoke.

My past entry: Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide, finds study

It is a surprising result. In this study, a total of 2818 data were synthesized to lead the conclusion. The validity of this study seems high as far as reading the protocol.

The Lancet: Smoking prevalence and attributable disease burden in 195 countries and territories, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015

Now, Russia, China, India, and the US are dominant consumers of tobacco. As well, Italy is extraordinarily tolerant to smokers, in my sense. The other days, many smokers in Japan were proud of their behavior, and youth respected smoking adults. But nowadays, most media have banned smoking scene.

My past entry: Issues about smoking

Smoking companies need the change of their marketing strategy for survival. Some companies are struggling for a new product other than tobacco. Others are eager to sell tobacco in developing countries.

I do not want to perish tobacco. But I cannot stand smoking people in public.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sexting dictionary

In the UK, the police are eager to prevent teens from sex crime.

One of the recent trends is increasing utilization of the internet and social media. Girls get a contact with strangers using e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or other ways which can keep the user's anonymity. Some girls send their portraits unclothed or acting a sexual pose. Such behavior is called "Sexting."

It is hard to regulate the contact which is potentially risky for girls. Most girls recognize that their talk should be secret from their parents. Therefore, they often code words which are encrypted at a glance; such as IWSN [I want sex now].

Recently, the police developed a list of such words to notify them to parents. The list includes 112 words.

The Telegraph: Police forces issue sexting dictionary to parents to decode 112 words children are using on the internet

As well as let them know the code words, the police are struggling for the enlightenment of the risk of the sex crime to the youth. The spokesman advised the Granny rule; "Would you want your Granny to see the image you are sharing?" It is similar to my idea I mentioned the other day.

My past entry: The absolute rule of internet contribution

Actually, I do not believe the sexting dictionary is effective for crime prevention. Slang is easy to change according to the era. Before this dictionary is spread to all parents, it will be outdated. The important thing is to consider how to treat the risk through these activities of the enlightenment.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taiwan bans dog and cat meat

The Taiwan government has illegalized selling dog and cat meat.

Independent: Taiwan becomes first Asian state to ban dog and cat meat being sold or consumed

Animal protection laws were amended in Taiwan. It will result in banning of consuming dog and cat meat. So far, some local legislation has been prohibiting dog and cat meat for sale. But it is for the first time to set a national rule in Asian countries.

In Taiwan, some cases of animal torture ignited the outrage of citizens. The new legislation also regulates acts which potentially expose animals to danger.

Actually, few Asians eat dog and cat except in some regions. In Japan, I have never seen someone selling dog or cat meat. As well I am not sure if such sale is prohibited in Japan.

On the other hand, some regions in China and South Korea remain a trend of dog meat consuming. This Taiwanese law would be interpreted as a message for criticizing China.

My past entry: Discussion about eating dog meat in China

I will never eat dog or cat meat. In my opinion, however, it need not be regulated by an authority. Japanese eat whale meat. Some I do not understand why some European criticize this trend. Every culture should be respected unless it is apparently harmful to others.

Indeed, dogs and cats are pretty. But it does not suggest ugly animals are worth to be killed.

Protecting animals from abuse is important, as we are human with the humane will. Diet culture should be distinguished from the context of philanthropy. We have to kill animals or plants for survival.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gaming therapy for depression

Depression is one of the common mental disorders. Its prevalence rate is up to 10%. Therefore, many clinicians and researchers are eager to develop new effective and cost-free treatment strategies.

Recently, gaming attracts attention as a way to reduce depressive symptoms of patients.

Hindustan Times: Video games may be a viable treatment for depression, finds study

Gaming has been considered to be utilized for several purposes in business such as the economy, negotiation, and leadership. And, some cognitive therapists are attempting to introduce its method in the game.

In this game application, the player has to defeat some monsters. The monsters represent some patterns of cognitive distortion which are frequently seen in depressive patients. Players can learn how to modify their malfunctioning cognitions into adaptive ones.

Gaming is usually for fun. One of its advantages is accessibility. Also, most games have some systems to make players continue gaming. It is expected to contribute to a reduced dropout rate of the patients from therapy.

However, current research suggests the effect of the gaming therapy is not continuous, although its effect is desirable.

In addition, some games are so addictive that some users become indulgent to the game. Indeed, some depressive people tend to paly games excessively. At present, therapeutic games are not so fun enough to make patients addictive, fortunately, or unfortunately. Beneficial utilization of gaming is a challenging but interesting theme.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Malfunctioning of IME due to Dropbox

Just recently, I experienced a little rare trouble about the IME on my Macbook.

To input Japanese language, we have to use an IME system which can transfer each word in alphabet into Japanese letter (Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji). For example, when I input "k-i-n," IME suggests "金 [gold]." If it is not what I expected, I hit the space bar, to change it into "禁 [forbid]," "近 [near]," or "菌 [bacteria]," and so forth. It is hard for English users to imagine the toughness of the task I guess.

Recently, there are some excellent IME systems developed by Microsoft Japan, Justsystems, and Google. Apple also offers "Kotoeri," as its own IME. We can choose one installed in our PC. I like ATOK by Justsystems.

However, IME sometimes causes trouble. Malfunctioning of IME is critical for our business because creating documents is essential for most PC users. If IME is completely crippled, we cannot fix it, as IME is required for inputting any Japanese letters. Without an IME, we cannot use even Google search.

And just recently, it occurred.

The phenomena was a little strange. When I inputted some letters, they were automatically changed into Kanji, or Hiragana, without my direction. In another typing, the letters were doubled, like a copy and paste. First, I suspected I had touched the trackpad unintentionally. But it was not. I felt as if someone behind the screen manipulated the keyboard.

To be honest, this kind of error occurred in Windows PC. It was due to an erroneous update module of the Windows OS. Discovering it through seeing the Microsoft forum, I made a rollback of the Windows system. Then the malfunction vanished.

I did an update of Mac OS. But the trouble was not fixed.

Interestingly, it occurred on an MS Word file. Writing an email in Japanese, I never suffered from this strange movement.

I searched someone having experienced similar phenomena. I found an interesting description in Japanese The author reported a phenomenon very similar to mine. And the cause of the trouble was identified to the error of Dropbox, according to the author.

Dropbox offers an option called as "Dropbox badge." It looks a small banner appeared to the right of the MS Word document. When you rewrite a document which is shared with your colleagues, the badge provides you some option about reflecting the changes you have done. However, this function is no use to me, as I seldom manage documents at the same time of my colleagues. When the author disabled the Dropbox Badge, the malfunction of the IME was completely fixed. And so did I.

I guess Dropbox Badge attempted to save the file frequently. Whenever checking the file, it found some inconsistency between the saved file and the current one. Inappropriate unionizing of the files might cause serious trouble on the IME. Thus, the person I felt behind the screen was Dropbox itself.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Trump meets Xi in Florida

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping made a face-to-face meeting for the first time in Florida.

They both seem to have enjoyed the conference. Trump commented that their relationship developed in this session was outstanding. Xi, as well, emphasized the outcome of the meeting.

The themes of their negotiation, however, were almost limited to business. They mentioned the four dialogues; the diplomatic and security dialogue, the comprehensive economic dialogue, the law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue, and the social and cultures issues dialogue.

Taiwan was relieved not to hear aggressive speeches about One-China policy from Trump's mouth. Trump previously fluttered about the idea of the existence of Taiwan. At first, he threatened China as he would not be stuck to One-China policy if China does not adhere the American policy on trades. But after that, his policy might be modified. In this conference, Trump avoided mentioning this issue explicitly.

The News Lens: No Taiwan Mention After Trump-Xi Summit as Focus Turns to Syria

At the same time, Trump expressed proudness about a recent airstrike on Syria. Xi accepted the attack at the conference. But this attitude is inconsistent with China's concurrent stance supporting Assad administration.

In my opinion, Trump has no particular policy in the diplomatic point of view. Rather, other nations are excessively influenced by Trump's difficult words. After all, many countries have to keep an eye to Trump's behaviors. Thus, the current situation is indirectly advantageous to the US.

On the other hand, the issue of the Middle East crisis is no more treatable by the US or other single nation. A cooperative strategy is required to ease the situation. Although losing the territories, ISIS is continuously committing terror attacks. I do not believe a solitary move of the US, as well as the UK and France, would be able to fix the crisis.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

South Korea launches a long-range missile

Just recently, North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. It may suggest an opposition of the North to the meeting of China's leader Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.

Soon after that, South Korea was also reported to have tested an 800km-range missile. This ballistic missile can target Pyongyang from anywhere in the South.

The Guardian: South Korea test fires 800km-range missile

South Korea has been relying on the power of the US to protect itself from the threat of North Korea. Since 2012. But, South Korea and the US have made an agreement about the development of long-range missile weapon.

Donald Trump, President of the US, is reluctant to keep the troop on duty in South Korea. He suggests South Korea should compensate for its cost.

On the other hand, the US was eager to set Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile (THAAD), a high functioning system for countering airstrikes, in South Korea. As deciding to adopt THAAD, South Korea was harshly blamed by China. China seems to be afraid that THAAD would prevent it from attacking the US. Even though it is unlikely to occur, an option to begin a deliberate attack must be a trump for China when negotiating with the US.

Therefore, South Korea is forced to become solitude in the international power balance. As President Park was dismissed, which direction it will proceed to is quite unclear.

Anyway, the situation around North Korea has become more tense. I expect leaders in each nation to be rational with a longitudinal perspective.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Seat-free carriage will come in the UK

In the UK, seat-free carriages are planned to be introduced.

They remind elder people of a third-class carriage having been abolished since 1956. But ministers are merely considering how to deal with crowded trains with low cost. Passengers will be provided a ticket of "buy nine, get one."

iNEWS: Third class standing-only train carriages reintroduced to ease overcrowding

Oh, it is just a joke. The article above was written in this April Fool. You need not afraid seats would be banned from London Tube.

But, this idea is unique and even ironic. Recently, Londoners are suffering from a serious traffic jam. Buses are frequently delayed. We often fail to get the seat on the train. In a peak time, we have to wait for the next Tube to enter because of an excessive amount of commuters.

To be honest, seatless carriages has been already introduced in Japan since several years ago. The seats in a particular carriage can be folded. And in the peak time, passengers are not allowed to take a seat. Some carriages in central Tokyo in the morning are extremely crowded. Thus, the developers are quite serious to ban the seats to help customers.

Actually, I thought the seats in London Tube were so big that it was sometimes difficult to keep the space I stood. Reconstructing the carriages may be a good idea for comfortable commuting.

Friday, April 7, 2017


Aging is our fate. Our physical ability is declining through aging. As well, the cognitive function becomes inferior. It is said a fourth of people in the age of eighty has dementia.

However, you may know some people who are still energetic in spite of their age. What is the difference between elder people in the cognitive function?

A recent study suggests there are some super-agers. They reduce less brain volume than others at the same age, according to the study.

Hindustan Times: Age-related cognitive decline is not inevitable: Study

Unfortunately, this study has some limitations to prove the hypothesis that the brain cells of some people have specific attributes. They might have a larger brain inherently.

Furthermore, how to protect your brain from shrinking is still yet to be discovered. If super-agers are genetically determined, it is disappointing. Physicians recommend you to take an exercise and balanced meal. It is because their positive effect on your health has been proven, even if not guaranteeing to keep your brain young.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Couple having dominated a woman as sex slave jailed

Recently, a couple living in Northern Ireland was sentenced to imprisonment for the crime of keeping a woman in their house and raping her several times.

The victim had a learning disability and was kidnapped from her home in 2004. Her husband reported her missing to the police, but her footprint could not be traced. Indeed, the couple deceived her to invite their house. And they locked her in a tiny room, and encouraged the man's friends to raped her. The victim was fed with sweets only so that her teeth but one were rotten.

The man had several histories of sex crimes. The man was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and the woman took three years.

Mail Online: Husband and wife who kept a disabled woman as a sex slave and filmed dozens of men raping her in a squalid den before paying her with Quality Street chocolates are jailed 

It is a horrible story. Regardless of the victim's disability, slavery is never acceptable.

I have to be cautious with evaluating the perpetrator's mental status based on the media report. But it is certain that the man has psychopathic tendency and paraphilia. Such a person tend to offend several times, partially due to lack of empathy and diminished learning from punishment. Thus, after released from prison, I am afraid he would target another woman again.

In my sense, 15 years of imprisonment is not enough for the penalty of ruining a woman's life and dignity. On the other hand, long sentence is not proven to be effective in preventing reoffending. There is no resolution established for psychopaths to reduce the risk of recidivism.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kyushu trip

Last weekend, I visited Kumamoto, the center of Kyushu.

During the trip, I went to Takachiho, located in Miyazaki prefecture. It is called the place of the god. Indeed, Takachiho shrine was quite solemn.

Amano-Iwado shrine deifies Amaterasu Omikami, a Japanese ancient goddess. One day, she hided herself in the cave because of her brother's rude behavior. As she was the symbol of the sun, Japan encountered a total eclipse. Other gods made a conference for the way to bring her on the ground again. The place where the conference was conducted is Amano-yasugawara.

The next day, I visited a couple of farms. Sheep and goats were kept with free range. Goats were eager to eat.

And young one expected me to feed it, following me for a while.

The water was extremely clean in Kyushu. This is Shirakawa Spring Source.

I also went to Kokonoe-Yume-Otsuribashi. It is the largest suspension bridge in Japan.

Kyushu has several attractive places. Some day I will visit there again.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Suicidal bombing at St Petersburg subway

On Monday, April 3, 2017, an explosion occurred at the subway station of Petersburg in Russia.

CNN: St. Petersburg metro explosion: At least 10 dead in Russia blast

It is suggested that a homemade explosive object with TNT was placed on a carriage. According to the latest report, at least eleven people were killed and more than a dozen was injured.

The authority deemed the incident as a terror attack caused by a suicidal bomber who was close to an international terrorist organization. The station and the airport in the city became closed.

The Telegraph: Everything we know about the explosion in St Petersburg

Russia itself has frequently been targeted to a terror attack. At present, who is responsible for the attack has to be clarified. But an Islamic group is suspected to have been involved in the act, according to the local media. Anyway, we have to wait for a claim of responsibility.

The New York Times: Explosion in St. Petersburg, Russia, Kills 11 as Vladimir Putin Visits

The terrorism is widely spreading over the world. It is a common shape of asymmetric war. The government should protect the present administration and citizens' lives, whereas terrorists only have to damage it. Different from an international conflict, terror organization need not consider what to do after the attack succeeds. Unfortunately, an effective solution to win the asymmetric battle is yet to be established.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Russia might hire 1000 hackers for the victory of Trump, so what?

Some US politicians claim that Russia had been involved in the victory of Donald Trump in the latest Presidential vote.

According to Senator Mark Warner, Vladimir Putin directed to interfere the election with broadcasting fake news about Clinton, the competitor of Trump, in some states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where Trump had won. It was suspected Russia hired a total of 1000 hackers.

International Business Times: Russia 'hired army of 1,000 web trolls to make up fake news about Hillary Clinton in swing states'

I have heard this kind of suspicion. And Russia's intervening to the Presidential vote seems somehow true. It is quite natural that Putin would prefer Trump as the next President because Trump made some favorable comments about Russia. Thus, this idea is no more a conspiracy theory.

Nonetheless, I do not believe this fact deemed of value. First, the magnitude of influence of fake news on the Presidential vote is limited. If Russia had not been involved in this issue, it is doubtful that Clinton would have won.

My past entry: The influence of fake news on the Presidential vote is limited: A study suggests

Second, Trump would also suffer from some fake news, even if it was less than Clinton.

And third, political interaction is a quite ordinary event when a decisive vote is conducted. The US itself has repeatedly intervened the elections in other countries. Voters are absolutely responsible for the result of the vote, regardless of the movement o other nations.

Finally, if Russia's jamming is unfavorable to the US, the US government should have treated it. Obama administration was on the side of Clinton undoubtedly. If the government had failed to shut out Russia's influence, it would be the proof of the incompetence of the administration, unfortunately.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

TV talk show regarding AI in Tokyo

Recently, I attended a conference where a TV talk show was recorded. In this session, the usability of AI was discussed by some specialists. Panelists were a professor of applied science, a biologist, and a founder of a start-up company.

The facilitator asked some questions to the audience. Some of the attendees seemed fearful about the rise of AI. They were concerned about the risk AI would get rid of their jobs. One of the audience was a translator. Indeed, an auto-translating machine was introduced. It could speak what it heard in English translated into Japanese instantly even when it was off-line.

However, one of the commentators suggested that we need not worry about AI threatening our job as far as we are proud of it. Actually, after Alpha Go defeated the world champion, professional Go players became enthusiastic considering AI programs would make an innovation in the Go world, according to the commentator. In contrast, if you believe your work is silly and easy to be mastered, AI will overwhelm the performance of human soon.

Approximately 75% of the audience believed AI would enrich the world. But, one commentator was worrying about the possibility of people with malice to utilize AI for improper purposes. After all, the human is more dangerous than AI, according to him.

The conference was very exciting. The facilitator was good at managing the discussion, and all panelists were smart to describe the future with AI. It was fascinating time of two hours for me.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Face cognition program can sense Praecox-gehuehl

Have you hear the words "Praecox-gefuehl?" It is a psychiatric term in German, Praecox feeling in English. "Dementia Praecox" is an old name of schizophrenia.

The other day, many psychiatrists believed they would be able to make a precise diagnosis of schizophrenia at a glance after well trained. An experienced psychiatrist can sense the extraordinary atmosphere in a person with schizophrenia when facing him. Praecox-gefuehl was the most powerful diagnostic criterion of schizophrenia. Ridiculous? It is true that many great textbooks described Praecox-gefuehl even in the 20th century.

Of course, Praecox-gefuehl is a myth. It has been proven not to be trustworthy to identify schizophrenic patients.

On the other hand, some researchers are eager to identify some facial signs in psychotic patients. Dilated pupils, flat cheek, and less locomotive mouth were suspected to have a specific psychiatric symptom. There was a study to evaluate the mental status of a client with the tone of voice. However, these attempts had not shown a positive outcome.

And just recently, Google revealed a surprising result.

Facial recognition is a modern technology to distinguish one person from others. The preciseness of this technique is now so good that many people make use it for unlocking their smartphone. But it is still not perfect. In a recent incident, the program misidentified a black woman's face as a gorilla.

And now, researchers is utilizing deep learning to prove the existence Praecox-gefulhe. Millions of pictures of schizophrenic patients were recorded to be a subject to be learned by a supercomputer. If this trial is successful, a camera will be able to diagnose schizophrenia more precisely than human psychiatrists even without make a conversation with the patients.

Thus, I will lose my job. I hope this major trial will result in a failure.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sequels in March 2017

March 25, 2017
Scandal around Akie Abe, the Prime Minister's wife

Opposing parties demand a summon of Akie Abe to the Parliament. But ruling Liberal Democratic Party is refusing it. The scandal of Moritomo Gakuen is still burning.

March 14, 2017
Switch and Virtual Boy: Gambling Game Consoles

The launch of Nintendo Switch seems successful. Nintendo sold a total of two million all over the world.

March 11, 2017
President Park Geun-hye dismissed

The Korean prosecutor requested the arrest of ex-President Park, and just yesterday, it was accepted. Now, she is detained with waiting a serious battle in the court.

March 10, 2017
The murder case of Kim Jong-nam

The body of slain Kim Jong-nam will be returned from Malaysia to North Korea, according to the media. At the same time, foreigners detained in each country are expected to be allowed to leave. The relationship of two nations will be improved slightly.

ABC NET: Kim Jong-nam: Malaysia releases body of slain half-brother of Kim Jong-un, diplomatic spat ends

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The UK has committed the article 50 for Brexit

Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK officially signed the letter for Brexit.

According to the article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, nations to leave the EU have to inform it two years before the day of the departure. In other words, the EU legislation will be no more applicable to the UK after March 2019.

The BBC: Article 50: UK set to formally trigger Brexit process

Many Britains who do not want the UK to leave the EU had attempted to stop Brexit. Some demanded even the retry of Brexit vote. But their desire resulted in vain.

Since seating the Prime Minister, May has had the role in carrying out Brexit. It was almost impossible to avoid Brexit after the referendum.

In addition, the referendum conducted in last June figured out the split opinions in the UK. Londoners and Scotches are willing to get along with the EU, whereas the majority of rural people are no more dreaming the integration of Europe.

There are several points of view on this issue. But in my opinion, researchers and people working in the region of academia are totally suffering from this decision. Some EU research funds are going to exclude British from the candidates of the receiver. It will become difficult for foreign researchers to remain in the UK after Brexit. I have received some email from King's College London to notify the influence of the decision. It seems workers in KCL are also confusing.

Again, I do not welcome Brexit. At the same time, I do not hope the UK to decline. It would be good if the UK and the EU will construct a mutually productive relationship in the future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Neurology and psychiatry, a confusing relationship

Can you distinguish neurology from psychiatry? Actually, the difference between them becomes vague.

Recently, neurologists and psychiatrists are working along to discover some neuropsychiatric diseases such as motor neuron disease and schizophrenia. The result suggests a possibility of shared causes of these illnesses.

The Conversation: Freud’s divide between psychiatry and neurology is redundant – here’s why

In a historical view, some diseases previously categorized in psychiatric illnesses has been reclassified into neurological illnesses. For example, epilepsy, now commonly treated by a neurologist, was deemed as a psychotic illness. Even now, some Japanese psychiatrists are eager to deal with epilepsy. As well, neurosyphilis is now known as a form of infection of Treponema pallidum and treated in the division of neurology. But the other day, it was misunderstood as a psychiatric disorder.

Considering these facts, it is said that any diseases whose etiology was clarified are excluded from psychiatric diseases. If the genes responsible for the onset of schizophrenia is completely identified, not psychiatrists but neurologists will be willing to cure it.

Then, what is the core practice of psychiatrists? When the cause of all diseases is clarified, will psychiatry as a subspecialty vanish?

In my opinion, it is acceptable if psychiatrists will have no roles in the future. The absolute wish of all medical practitioners is the world which does not require them. Unfortunately, however, the day of extinction of psychiatry will never come.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Solar panel with up to 30% conversion efficiency

Sustainable energy is one of the most important issues in modern civilization. Most nations rely on oil and natural gas for producing energy. A few countries such as France is willing to utilize atomic power plants. But the serious risk of leak of radioactive substance occurred in Fukushima makes citizens and politicians hesitate to trust its safety.

In contrast, solar power is completely clean and renewable energy source. The sun produces unlimited power on earth, at least for million years. It is a dream for the human to use the solar power for our daily life.

Recently, a Japanese company rewrote the record of the photo-conversion efficiency of the silicon solar panel. Conventional panels can convert the sunlight into energy by 10-20%, depending on the quality of the panel. The conversion rate of the newly product is over 25%. Its potential reaches up to 30%.

Independent: Record-breaking solar panel converts more than a quarter of sunlight into electricity

It is an innovation. However, there is a gap before its commercial use. The cost for creating highly qualified panel is not negligible.

Also, another issue around solar power is downtime. It is evident that a solar panel makes no energy at midnight. Thus, the conversion rate should be considered as less than a half of its potential. Furthermore, the efficiency can be limited on a cloudy day. It is the reason why solar power is never a dominant solution in the energy issue.

Nonetheless, the technology for improved efficiency is hopeful. There are no rooms of innovation for steam and water power plants. Solar panels will not replace other power plants but add some options for our energy strategy.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Universal basic income in Asia

Basic income is one of the latest dreams in modern economics. As I wrote, there are some trials for introducing basic income in European countries. However, their attempts were not successful.

My past entry: Basic income in Swiss: A challenge?

My past entry: Universal basic income experiment in Finland

My past entry: Universal basic income, a new challenge in Swiss

At the same time, some Asian countries took similar experiments. The Indian government suggested even a five USD of monthly universal basic income was powerful enough to compete for poverty

Independent: Indian government survey says universal basic income could combat poverty

And China could reduce the interpersonal poverty gap by 6.5 percent with endorsing minimum income scheme.

TheNewsLens: From Fiction to Reality: Universal Basic Income Gaining Traction in Asia

Recently, experts in trans-pacific countries conducted a conference to discuss the meaning of universal basic income. Their main concern was that the modern trend of automation would get rid of most jobs from us.

Experts and academics from as far afield as Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea met in Taipei last week to discuss UBI, the first time the idea has been discussed in a solely Asia-Pacific context.

I am a little surprised to the fact that Asian countries have been more successful in introducing basic income than European countries which are keen to keep the level of social welfare. But Asian countries suffering from severe inequality require social security the more. Also, even fewer amount of payment would be helpful to citizens in developing countries.

I am afraid that Japan will never endorse basic income. Japanese are rather not empathetic to others. But we should consider what will help us in a truly tough situation.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Trump abandoned to abandon Obama Care

Trump administration submitted the bill of American Health Care Act, repealing the Affordable Care Act established by Obama, on the Congress. As no expect of collecting the affirmative lawmakers, however, Trump had to withdraw it before the vote.

Abandoning Obama Care was the priority for Trump administration. Therefore, this defeat will be disappointing for supporters.

The New York Times: In Major Defeat for Trump, Push to Repeal Health Law Fails

Actually, American Health Care Act was infamous not only for Democrats but also many Republicans. It is interesting that some Republicans were worrying that the repeal would destroy citizens' life, while others the act was inadequate to cancel Obama Care. Trump could not settle these opposite opinions.

Most Republicans, as well as many American people, are fond of taking their responsibility of their own life. Health insurance should be selected by each person, instead of forced admission, according to them.

On the other hand, it was unclear how much the budget would be saved by the repeal of Obama Care. Although the administration claims that abandoning Obama Care is essential to improve the fiscal status of the US, its economic impact may be limited.

Only ten voters were below than the approval, according to Trump. But, it is suggestive that not a few Republicans believed that withdrawal of Obama Care was a stupid idea. I hope the US government will change the direction to the right way.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scandal around Akie Abe, the Prime Minister's wife

Japan parliament is stormy because of a scandal of Abe Shinzo's wife.

Akie Abe, the wife of Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, is suspected to have been involved in a tricky discount in selling a public land to an educational corporation.

Moritomo Gakuen was planned to be established as a primary school belonging to an educational corporation.

The kindergarten operator testified to parliament that the first lady, Akie Abe, gave him an envelope containing 1m yen (£7,100) and said it was from Shinzo Abe. The government denies the claims.

Moritomo Gakuen group was planning to build a new elementary school in Osaka. Yasunori Kagoike, the president of the group, claims that Akie Abe was involved in the approval of the planning. He also stated that Akie had given him a million JPY as a secret donation. Akie denied his claim.

The Guardian: Shinzo Abe and wife accused of giving cash to ultra-nationalist school

The land on which the new elementary school would be built was sold from the government to the corporation for very low cost. The official said that it was because many wastes were buried in the land. But, there are unclear things around the contract of transferring the land.

Yasunori Kagoike was summoned to the Parliament to reply the questions of lawmakers. However, the gap of the speech between Kagoike and the Prime Minister's wife became widened. Opposing parties are keen to pursue the issue, because Shinzo Abe declared that if he were arbitrarily involved in the scandal, he would abandon the seat of the PM.

To be honest, I am indifferent to the fact about this scandal. It is not illegal for a politician to make a donation outside of his constituency. Cheating in selling public lands is, of course, problematic. But I do not think it is so critical.

Akie Abe is an active woman. She is not always on the side of Shinzo Abe, but she behaves based on her own opinion. In this sense, I admire her policy.

However, I do not like her ideology as a nationalist. It is true that Akie is inclined in the policy of Moritomo Gakuen. In the kindergarten administered by Moritomo, children are encouraged to admire Shinzo Abe. According to the media reports, even hate speeches against Korean people are heard in the kindergarten. If true, they are not education but brainwash.

Although the liberty of thoughts should be accepted, I am shameful that the wife of the Prime Minister approves such a nationalistic education. In this sense, I dislike Akie Abe.

Friday, March 24, 2017

London Parliament attacked

London was attacked by a terrorist.

It occurred in front of the Parliament building in Westminster. A vehicle rushed into pedestrians, to hit many. And then, a person with a knife got out of the car to run into the parliament. After killing a police officer, he was shot to death by the police.

A total of five people were killed and over 40 were injured. It is a terrible incident in London since a deadly attack occurred in 2005.

Aljazeera: Westminster attack: Five killed outside UK parliament

Before the background of the perpetrator was clarified, Theresa May mentioned that it was not by chance that outside of the Parliament was chosen as the place of this tragedy. Thus, it was estimated that the criminal had some extreme ideology.

At first, I did not think it was an organizational assault. If so, explosive objects would have been used to maximize the victims. I wondered the police had identified the suspect before the incident.

However, ISIS claimed that the culprit was a soldier.

RT: ISIS claims its ‘soldier’ carried out UK Parliament attack

Even if ISIS' commitment is correct, the offender might not be a professional terrorist, but a person who had inclined to the ideology of Islamic extremists.

ISIS is disguising to represent the voice of pious Muslims who are discriminated in European countries. It is the reason nonoccupational terrorists emerge in several countries repeatedly.

By the way, almost a half of the cases aiming at an important person is conducted by a person with mental disorders, according to a study. Extreme thoughts are often hardly distinguishable from delusion.

The absolute truth is that we should never accept any violence. I pray for the victims.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

World Happiness Report 2017 revealed

World Happiness Report was published recently. In this report, all nations are ranked according to some elements, including GDP per capita and social support.

World Happiness Report

The top of the list is Norway. Northern European countries are listed up in the upper class. The UK is ranked at 19th, and the US is 14th.

Surprisingly, Japan is out of top 20th countries. Furthermore, Japan is ranked at 51st. Japan has the greatest life expectancy and also good GPD per capita. But, it is inferior in the segment of generosity and dystopia.

It seems World Happiness Report is constructed taking a high value on liberty, as well as social security. This sense of value is well matched to Scandinavian countries.

In contrast, many Japanese people are indifferent to the freedom of ideology. Though youths are critical to authorities, elder people are rather conservative and dislike people who are not obeying the local rules of the community. On the other hand, some Japanese tend to distrust the government, while they rely very much on the government in their life. This imbalance is unique, and I guess it is hardly explainable to foreign people.

UK people also seems to have felt shocked to the result. The difference between the UK and Northern European countries is the cost of social security, according to the author of the article below.

International Business Times: Britain is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – so why aren't we happier?

However, the sense of value in people differs from each other. It is extremely difficult to establish the definition of happiness applicable to people in any countries. Even commonly shared values such as life expectancy and liberty are not equally prioritized among countries.

Also, sense of happiness is highly subjective, as well as relative. In my opinion, people feel happy when they expect to become happier in the future. In this sense, I agree with the opinion that people in a developing country look happy, even they are less happy in an objective view.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Julia, an autistic character in Sesame Street

Sesame Street, a popular cartoon muppet show, is going introduce an autistic character.

Julia, an autistic girl, has been displayed in cartoons and books, but has not appeared on the children's show. The developer seems to utilize Julia's unique character to enlighten youth audience to let them know autistic disorder precisely.

The Guardian: Sesame Street introduces muppet with autism to teach children about disorder

There are several works featuring autism. "Elephant Man" is one of the most popular films whose hero has autism. Mark Zuckerberg in "Social Network" is also described as if he has Asperger's syndrome, though I do not know the real Zuckerberg is autistic.

However, it is relatively rare to describe a person belonging to the minority in films or comics for children. Children can bully those who share the characteristics of the person in fiction. Especially Japanese teachers and parents are likely to think so.

Linus in Snoopy has some characters of autistic syndrome. He always keeps security blanket and believes in Great Pumpkin while he is fond of philosophic thinking. This unbalance of thought and behavior is typical of autistic people. But he is not explicitly  described as autism.

Nobita and Gian in Doraemon, a popular Japanese cartoon, was described as ADHD by Eriko Shiba, a child psychiatrist. Actually, however, they seem not to have ADHD, for my sense. Maybe Shiba utilized them to make a simplified explanation of ADHD.

By the way, men are much more likely to have autistic disorder than women. In this sense, Julia is not typical as an autistic child. I guess autistic girls are easier to describe in fiction than boys.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Karalla, an excellent frying machine

Recently, I bought Karalla, a cooking machine.

Karalla is sold by Shop Japan, a famous e-commerce company. It can fry several kinds of food without oil.
As you need not boil oil in the pan, you can save excessive oil while cooking fried chicken, fried potatoes, or cutlet. The products include fewer calories than those deeply fried with oil.

I cooked fried potatoes using Karalla. To be honest, it was for the first time for me to cook fried something.

Potatoes were delicious but had less rich flavor than those eaten at McDonald's. It is quite natural that fast foods provide us instant satisfaction. Of course, I believe my fried potatoes are healthier than McDonald's.

There are several similar fryers available. As reading some entries comparing them in Japanese, Karalla is more popular in Japan than other fryers. Japanese companies are enthusiastic to adapt machines to Japanese customers' favor. Philips Airfryer, The Original Airfryer with Bonus 150+ Recipe Cookbook, Fry Healthy with 75% Less Fat, Black HD9220/28

In recent years, cooking machines made significant progress so that we can cook various menus with little stress. It is very welcomed.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The US and North Korea are approaching the war

The circumstance in the Korean peninsula is now in tense ever before.

The US President Donald Trump suggests the possibility of military actions upon North Korea. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary emphasized the words "all options are on the table."

The Star: U.S. ready to take military action against N. Korea, if necessary, Tillerson says

North Korea repeatedly take provocative actions against the Western nations so far. Recently, it declared to have accomplished an experiment of a hydrogen bomb. It was very threatening for neighbor countries.

My past entry: North Korea declared successful hydrogen bomb experiment

The previous Obama administration attempted to keep a gate of conversation with North Korea. His purpose was to make North Korea gradually less tyrannous. Unfortunately, however, it resulted in a failure. Maybe, Trump considers Obama's diplomatic strategy made North Korea rather arrogant.

On the other hand, I hardly understand the reason that Trump is concerned about the environment of Korean Peninsula. Trump's doctrine is America first, and he is even considering to abandon South Korea. I do not believe that attacking North Korea will profit to the US.

On the contrary, if the war begins, the nation which is likely to be damaged the most is South Korea. Once the battle starts, the US will be able to ruin North Korea. After that, enormous refugees will enter South Korea. South Korean government will have to struggle to maintain the order and function of Seoul and other major cities against chaotic situation brought with the refugees. North Korea has no resources and technologies the US and South Korea want to gain. The nation itself is a waste, for developed nations.

China is likely to be injured by the war. It has close relationship with North Korea. Therefore, China is trying to calm the US down.

I never want this war. To begin with, the idea that a military force will bring the peace is out of date, considering the outcome in Iraq. Trump and the US should learn this issue.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Norway will ban gasoline vehicles

Norway declared that the majority of new cars newly sold there is electric or hybrid.

Norway has been committing to the sustainability of the global environment. It is planning to completely ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars in 2025. Also, it accomplished zero deforestation for the first time in the world.

Independent: Half of all new cars in Norway are now electric or hybrid

Norway's challenge is respectful because exhaust gas of vehicles has a great impact on the environment. On the other hand, electrical cars require large electric power. There are several hydraulic power plants in Norway. In addition, it can borrow electricity from neighbor countries in time of drought. Thus, it owes geographical advantage for proceeding it progressive policy.

In contrast, Japan has no resources to gain electricity. It is surrounded by the oceans so that no other countries can supply the power. As well Japan has several water power plants, but their percentage of contribution to the power supply is limited. It is why Japan can hardly be independent of atomic power plants. After the 3.11 Tsunami disaster and the accident of Fukushima atomic power plant, fire power plants became dominant in Japan. Obviously, it brought Japan polluted atmosphere.

After all, an environment-friendly policy is not easy to build. A balanced idea in which several elements are considered is essential for sustainable decision making.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The doubtful relationship between sleep and obesity in children

Do you have enough sleep every night? Otherwise, you will become obese. It is suggested that a lack of sleep is relevant to the risk of obesity, according to some studies.

However, it is not always applicable in any environment. Especially, the relationship between sleeping time of children and the rate of obesity is somehow skeptical.

The Conversation: Does a lack of sleep really make children overweight? Here’s the science

In this article above, the fact that sleeping time in children has been shortened in many countries through this century, whereas it is the opposite in the UK and Australia. Also, some studies suggesting the causal relationship between less sleep and weight gain in children are doubtful of their clinical validity, according to the author. For example, the difference of sleeping time in the two groups of children classified by the body weight shown in a study was only 14 minutes. This finding obviously does not make sense, even though there is statistical significance in it.

I am not familiar with children' health. But I guess dietary habits and frequency of exercise, as well as genetic factors, have more impact on their body weight than sleep.

However, it does not mean keeping good sleep is meaningless in children. It has been proven that growth hormone is secreted while children are sleeping. As well, some other hormone levels are modified in the midnight. Disturbed sleep is easy to bring children malfunction both physically and mentally. Even if it does not prevent obesity, deep and enough sleep is crucial for children.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ruling party took a narrow victory in Dutch election

Yesterday, the Dutch parliament election was conducted. It resulted in the victory of ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) with 21.2 percent of the vote. In contrast, Party for Freedom led by Mr. Wilders took 13.1 percent.

Mr. Wilders has a far-right policy and promise de-Islamisation of the Netherlands. Some people were afraid that Party for Freedom would win the first position in the Parliament. This worry was not realized.

New Statesman: Dutch election results at a glance

However, it will be difficult for VVD to take the leadership in the coming Parliament. It has to make a grand coalition composed of several parties to form the majority.

The New York Times: The Dutch Election Shows How Not to Defeat Populism

One of the reasons for the victory of VVD seems that it gained the support of some voters with far-right ideology. It will bind the policy-making of the ruling parties.

This year many European countries will a crucial election. Politicians against populism should learn many things from this election.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ransomware is spreading in Japan

Ransomware is one of the topics in modern cyber crimes. If a computer is infected, important data are encrypted against the will of users. The criminal demands ransom to allow the victims to get the data recovered.

Many people are potentially targeted of ransomware. Not only major companies but also individuals and other organization than profiting companies should be aware of the risk of ransomware. Recently, the data of patients in a hospital were subjected to ransom.

My past entry: Ransom-ware and Bitcoin in hospital

In Japan, increasing cases of ransomware are reported. A total of 2,810 cases, as over four times as that in the previous year, were reported the last year.

Japan Today: Japan becoming prime target of 'ransomware' crime

The other days, Japanese were rarely targeted to cyber crimes because it is hard for the attackers to master the Japanese language. Most phishing mails in Japanese contain some grammatical errors, in my experience. So, it is relatively easy to distinguish deceiving documents in Japanese.

However, recent emails with malice are often written in perfect Japanese. In addition, many companies are needed to treat English emails. It is not so easy for Japanese to distinguish important emails in English from junk ones.

According to the article above, Japanese tend to pay ransom to the attacker. It is obviously a fool idea. In addition to feeding cyber criminals, paying the ransom to an attacker will be a message that the company is willing to surrender. It is highly likely that such information will be sent to other criminals because the dark web society is quite narrow. Thus, making a payment weakens the organization's resistance to the next cyber attack.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Unvaccinated children will be banned in Australia

Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia proposed a new legislation which forces all parents to vaccinate children. Unvaccinated children will not be permitted to enter a preschool according to the new scheme. The right of the objection to vaccination will be officially dismissed.

Independent: Unvaccinated children could be banned from attending preschool across Australia

This idea is scientifically correct. It is no doubt that vaccination saves several children's life. On the contrary, unvaccinated children force not only their lives but also other children's to expose the risk of infectious diseases. Of course, the government should be responsible for the effect and safety of the mandatory vaccinations.

Some people are opposing vaccination. They are concerned about the adverse effects of vaccines. Indeed, there are risks of unexpected influence on vaccination. Some years ago, I felt very sick after taking a vaccine of influenza. It is a typical adverse response. Nonetheless, I am willing to take a vaccine every year because it is relatively safer than refusing vaccination.

Vaccination is a way of prevention. And you have to understand the statistics of precaution for recognizing the benefit of vaccination. Without knowing the statistical facts, some people are emotionally refusing the vaccination. Furthermore, a few people believe vaccination is an illusion created by pharmaceutical companies to gain profit.

Unfortunately, Japanese people are not enough enlightened about this issue. Some parents are strongly opposed to the spread of vaccination.

Vaccination against human papillomavirus infection is recommended for girls to prevent the onset of cervical cancer. But since some parents emphasized the adverse effects of HPV vaccination, the government abandoned the recommendation. I am afraid that lots of Japanese ladies will suffer from cancers due to missing vaccination in the future.

Australian politicians seem very rational and confident, compared to Japanese ones. One of the reasons Australian are aware of the infectious risk is that Australia is surrounded by the ocean. There are many unique species living in Australia. Therefore, the government is very keen to keep the environment clean. Bringing alien plants and animals to Australia is strictly regulated. Japan is also surrounded by the sea. But, because Korean peninsula and China is very close to Japan, the intercontinental transaction has been conducted since the ancient era. Many foreign species were brought to Japan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Switch and Virtual Boy: Gambling Game Consoles

On March 3, Nintendo launched "Switch," a new game console. It has a unique user interface. Players can select some forms according to their play styles such as tabletop mode and handheld mode.

There are several consoles appeared by some developers so far. Some of them became popular, attracting users joyful mind. However, others were forgotten by most consumers other than a few enthusiasts.

Nintendo Virtual Boy is one example of the big failure. It was released in 1995. Players can look into the scope to see the 3D vision. But its performance was too unique to be accepted by many users and developers.

International Business Times: Switching it up: 6 of the weirdest consoles from video game history

Developing a game console is a gamble for a company. Usually, developers sell a new console at a price which is less than the total cost to make one. Making the console spread to consumers is the essential goal. Then, other companies are willing to create new games with this console. The developer of the console gets the license fee from the game designing companies. The many famous titles are released, the many players buy the console. Finally, the developer reduces the price of the console because the cost of developing the machine has been already retrieved. Then, more gamers buy the console.

Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft X-Box series took this process. In contrast, Sega had to abandon Dreamcast, a game console which was competing Sony Playstation 2 temporarily. Dreamcast was not so inferior to Sony's concurrent consoles. But it failed to gather many supporters. Sega, suffering from money shortage, finally decided to retreat from developing the game console.

It is unsure whether Nintendo Switch will win the race of the game console war. Switch will ignite the motivation of game programmers, with its unique appearance. But it is another issue whether consumers become accustomed to its user experience. Preceding Nintendo Wii U is deemed as a failure, although the ex-President Toru Iwata was struggling to sell it.

In my sense, Switch is possible to be successful. Nowadays, many people play games with a smartphone. However, the UI of a smartphone is limited to a touch screen. Some gamers feel it uncomfortable. Switch's unique UI may meet their need to grip the game controller emotionally.