Tag Archives: Japan

Shokunin – dedicate your life to mastering your skill

You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret to success…and is the key to being regarded honorably. – Jiro Dreams of Sushi

 

Last night we watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix Instant, and we both fell in love with Jiro. For his amazing work and his intense focus on being a Shokunin (show-koo-nin).

I wouldn’t say he is eccentric. He just works relentlessly every day. That’s how Shokunin are. The way of the Shokunin is to repeat the same thing every day. They just want to work. They aren’t trying to be special.

And in the words of Jiro, once you choose your occupation you must immerse yourself in it and fall in love. Which I think is important. This is not for any job you happen to fall into, it is a chosen profession. And if you are lucky enough to get that choice then dive in and become a Shokunin.

That’s what I want to do. I dream of working that hard, every day, and never stopping. No retirement, no vacations, just a simple dedication to something I love. For years I have built up the discipline and focus needed to be so resolute.

And I’m at the point in my life where I get to make that choice. I have taken a year off work to find my occupation. The whole time living off savings and dedicating myself to writing. Every day I wake up and write, take a break, and write some more. And I’m proud to say in the last year I’ve never taken a weekend or holiday. I’ve gone on vacations and written during them.

I’m proud of that dedication, but I know I’m no Shokunin. To meet that standard I will have to persevere for another 9 years.

 

Shokunin. (source: hayashida)

 

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning.  The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.  This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

China launches its first aircraft carrier

But it’s used and has no planes. China bought the vessel in 1998 from Ukraine and had it refurbished – few details of its capabilities are known. But, from Reuters, “defense experts say it lacks the strike aircraft, weapons, electronics, training and logistical support it needs to become a fighting warship.” And so it will stay in the training fleet until they figure out how to land a plane on it.

The response has largely been mocking, from the Brisbane Times, ”if it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbours, it’s a sign of bullying.” And those neighbors are the ones in the crossfire. Japan has disputed territory with China in the East China Sea and the Philippines are arguing over a shoal in the South China Sea.

Still, it is a sign of the rising military power of the Chinese – after all, only 9 countries have an aircraft carrier. Seven of them only have one, Italy has two, and the United Kingdom only uses theirs for helicopters. So the launch could be a symbol of pride, that the Chinese are equal to the other powers. But they have a long journey ahead to challenge the United States and our 11 aircraft carriers.

 

Continue reading

Occupy Asia – there are more millionaires in East Asia than North America

There are now more rich people in East Asia than in North America. Both have around 3 million millionaires and there are 11 million worldwide.

But don’t forget about the little countries. Japan still has three times as many millionaires as China.

 

Millionaires in Asia Pacific. (source : Quartz)

 

And, if the rest of Asia were to unite they would outnumber China too. Perhaps, a strategic partnership could counter-balance the Rising Tiger.

Looking at the rest of the world, North America still has more money and really rich people – more billionaires than anyone lese. Europe is solidly in third place, while the Middle East is tied with Latin America. But only tied in terms of people, not overall wealth. I guess Latin Americans can buy bigger boats than Middle Easterners.

 

Continue reading

History of Olympic Pictograms overcoming the language barrier

Pictograms for the 1968 Mexico Olympics, designed by Lance Wyman (image: Virtual Olympic Games Museum)

 

Of all the instances in which graphic communication is necessary to transcend language barriers, the Olympic Games are, if not the most important, probably the most visible. We take the little icons of swimmers and sprinters as a given aspect of Olympic design, but the pictograms were a mid-20th Century invention—first employed, in fact, the last time London hosted the games, in 1948 (some pictographic gestures were made at the 1936 Berlin games, though their mark on international memory has been permitted to fade because of their association with Third Reich ideology).

The 1948 London pictograms were not a system of communication so much as a series of illustrations depicting each of the competitive sports, as well as the arts competition, which existed from 1912 to 1952 and included architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. In 1964, the Tokyo games took pictogram design to the next level by creating a complete system of typography, colors and symbols that would be applied across Olympic communications platforms.

In a paper on the history of Olympic design and national history, Jilly Traganou, an associate professor at The New School, writes:

Since Japan had not adopted the principles of the International Traffic Signs, introduced at the United Nations Geneva conference in 1949 and accepted by most European countries, the Olympics were regarded by graphic designers as an opportunity to establish a more unified and internationally legible symbolic language across the country. It was along these lines, searching for universally understood visual languages, that pictograms (ekotoba, in Japanese, a word used prior to the design of pictograms) were for the first time designed for the Olympic Games, embodying at the same time [founder of the International Olympic Committee] Baron deCoubertinʼs aspirations of universalism.

 

Keep reading: Smithsonian - The History of the Olympic Pictograms: How Designers Hurdled the Language Barrier

YouTube a major platform for news – says new Pew report

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, “YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news.”

By far, the incident that sparked the most interest was the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Pew looked at the most popular videos in the “news & politics” section of YouTube over those 15 months and found that 5 percent of the 260 videos related to the Japanese disaster.

Given that 70 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S., it’s not surprising that the top three news videos were related to non-U.S. events. After the earthquake/tsunami, the Russian elections and the unrest in the Middle East topped news-related video views, Pew said.

Natural disasters and political upheavals were the most popular news video topics. People did not figure prominently; “No one individual was featured in even 5 percent of the most popular videos studied here-and fully 65 percent did not feature any individual at all,” Pew found. President Obama, however, was featured in 4 percent of the top videos worldwide, in posts that ranged from speeches to campaign ads from opponents.

As Pew noted, the growth of news videos on YouTube has been a help and a hindrance to traditional news outlets…

 

Keep reading: PC Mag - YouTube Becoming ‘Major Platform’ for News

 

 

Continue reading

Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020

Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will soon embark on a project to realize an “autopilot system” for automatic driving, a system for guiding motor vehicles on expressways without human assistance.

The system is expected to contribute significantly to such goals as alleviating drivers’ fatigue, preventing road accidents and easing traffic congestion. It would be for vehicles referred to as self-driving cars capable of sensing their environment and navigating by themselves, with people not required to perform any mechanical operation besides choosing their destinations.

With a view to making an autopilot system a reality in the early 2020s, the ministry will launch a study panel of experts this year, to start full-scale discussions about a self-steering vehicle control project.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, motorists would enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating their cars.

When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, the driving mode would change to “automatic driving” and input your destination into the system. Motorists would take their hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.

 

Via‘Driverless driving’ envisioned for Japan in early 2020s

 

Continue reading

Researchers find ancient Roman beads in Japan – then find an East Asian man in Rome

Ancient Roman beads in Japan

Glass jewellery believed to have been made by Roman craftsmen has been found in an ancient tomb in Japan, researchers said Friday, in a sign the empire’s influence may have reached the edge of Asia.

Tests have revealed three glass beads discovered in the Fifth Century “Utsukushi” burial mound in Nagaoka, near Kyoto, were probably made some time between the first and the fourth century, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties said.

The beads, which have a hole through the middle, were made with a multilayering technique — a relatively sophisticated method in which craftsmen piled up layers of glass, often sandwiching gold leaf in between.

Via - Yahoo! News

 

 

East Asian man in ancient Rome

Some people of Italian ancestry, like me, might have a surprise in the family tree—a man of east Asian descent, who was living and working 2,000 years ago in the boondocks near the heel of the Italian boot. The discovery is the first good evidence of an Asian living in Italy during Roman times.

Researchers tested his mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through your maternal lineage. And this fellow had east Asian genes. The finding appears in the Journal of Roman Archaeology.

It’s impossible to say if the man trekked to Italy himself or one of his ancestors did. But it’s clear that this first known Roman Asian wasn’t some aristocratic diplomat. He was just a poor worker, buried with a single pot.

Via - Scientific American

Continue reading

America regains the title of ‘fastest supercomputer on the planet’

Every six months, Earth’s biggest supercomputers have a giant race to see which can lay claim to being the world’s fastest high-performance computing cluster.

In the latest Top 500 Supercomputer Sites list unveiled Monday morning, a newly assembled cluster built with IBM hardware at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) takes the top prize. Its speed? A whopping 16.32 petaflops, or 16 thousand trillion calculations per second. With 96 racks, 98,304 compute nodes, 1.6 million cores, and 1.6 petabytes of memory across 4,500 square feet, the IBM Blue Gene/Q system installed at LLNL overtakes the 10-petaflop, 705,000-core “K computer” in Japan’s RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science.

The Japanese computer had been world’s fastest twice in a row. Before that, the top spot was held by a Chinese system. The DOE computer, named “Sequoia,” was delivered to LLNL between January and April. It’s the first US system to be ranked #1 since November 2009.

To get to 16 petaflops, Sequoia ran the Linpack benchmark for 23 hours without a single core failing, LLNL division leader Kim Cupps told Ars Friday in advance of the list’s release. The system is capable of hitting more than 20 petaflops—during the tests it ran at 81 percent efficiency.
Learn moreWith 16 petaflops and 1.6M cores, DOE supercomputer is world’s fastest

Continue reading

Apple Adds Gay and Lesbian Couple Icons to iOS 6

The new version of Apple’s iPhone operating system comes with new emojis, the popular emoticons that are often used in texting and email, especially by young kids and nerdy adults like me. Two of these new pictograms represent gay and lesbian couples for the first time.

The icons are placed next to the previous relationship-related emojis showing a heterosexual couple holding hands and a heterosexual couple with a son. One shows two men holding hands. The other shows two women in the same position.

From Japan to the world

Emojis started in Japan. Meaning picture (e) and letter (moji), the pictograms quickly become a standard across this highly visually oriented culture. Apple introduced an emoji keyboard when it got the iPhone into the Japanese market, knowing that they were fundamental to compete there.

But then Westerners, fascinated by their cuteness, quickly adopted them too. Software appeared to enable that special Apple emoji keyboard in any iPhone or iPad. Every kid and nerdy adult with an Apple device quickly adopted them, and emojis spreaded like wildfire. Now you can find them everywhere.

via Gizmodo

 

Continue reading

Update on San Onofre Nuclear Plant – backup emergency generators also flawed

NRC OVERSIGHT HAS FAILED AT SAN ONOFRE

This letter was sent to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, with a copy to The Orange County Register:

Dear Chairman,

We were stunned to learn recently that for nearly three decades, the San Onofre nuclear reactors have been operating with inherently flawed backup emergency diesel generators, flaws that could have caused these generators to shut down as a result of a major earthquake. According to documents submitted to the NRC on May 14 of this year by Southern California Edison, the operator of the San Onofre plant, the effect of a major seismic event on the high-frequency sensors that would trigger the shutdown of the backup generators had not been analyzed. Upon discovering this issue, the sensors were immediately turned off, indicating significant safety concerns.

Allowing the San Onofre nuclear reactors, located directly next to major fault lines, to operate with such a fundamental safety issue unexamined for three decades is a dramatic failure on the part of the commission. The loss of both offsite and onsite power, or station blackout, is the very condition that led to the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi (Japan). As you are aware, the seismic vulnerability of nuclear reactors has become an even more urgent issue in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. We are well aware of your particular concerns in this area. Tuesday’s news underscores the need for immediate and urgent action.

Continue reading