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February 08 2014


There's a street in Tokyo where the sushi is amazing, except you can't eat it | Public Radio International

Food writer Steve Dolinsky explores the epicenter of the world's fake food on Kappabashi Street in Tokyo, Japan. http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-05/theres-street-tokyo-where-sushi-amazing-except-you-cant-eat-it

February 05 2014


Hoaxilla #147 – ‘Aokigahara’ « Episoden « HOAXILLA – Der skeptische Podcast aus Hamburg

Hoaxilla #147 – ‘Aokigahara’ http://www.hoaxilla.com/hoaxilla-147-aokigahara/
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January 07 2014


World War II Hackers

The use of encryption to secure sensitive data from unauthorized eyes is as old as human communication itself. Before the relatively new method of computerized encryption software converting data into a format unintelligible to anyone lacking the necessary key for its decryption, for a long time there was pen and paper and the human brain doing quite a bit of work. Up until the 20th century encryption had to be done literally by hand, to then be transmitted in paper form, via telegraphy or radio. In this context, encryption of data has always been of special importance during times of political conflict and war; subsequently, it saw its major developments during those times in history. This talk will examine and explain common hand encryption methods still employed today using the example of one very successful Soviet espionage group operating in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s: the spy ring centered around Richard Sorge, codenamed “Ramsay”. In the summer of 1938, the Japanese Secret Police started to notice mysterious radio transmissions emanating from somewhere in the Tokyo area. These transmissions, consisting of seemingly meaningless groups of digits, seemed to be directed towards the Asian mainland; neither the Secret Police nor the Japanese Communications Ministry and the Communications Bureau of the Governor General of Korea were able to pinpoint the where and from more precisely. It wasn't until 1941 that Japanese authorities uncovered the full scope and meaning of these messages – by accident and at first disbelieving what they had unearthed. The seemingly gibberish radio transmissions did indeed emanate from the heart of Tokyo and, as it turned out, were received in Vladivostok and passed on to Moscow, to be presented to Stalin himself. Decrypted, they contained vital information about secret German and Japanese plans, even the date of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This information had been gathered by Richard Sorge, a German citizen with a colorful personality who had infiltrated the small German community in Japan under the guise of a journalist and even gained the friendship and trust of the German ambassador, giving him access to any information available inside the embassy of Japan's ally. In Japan since 1933, Sorge had built a spy ring around a small group of confidantes: a Japanese journalist with connections to powerful Japanese political circles, a French-Yugoslav communist, and a German radio technician, Max Clausen. Clausen's technical knowledge proved vital for the group's success: he was able to build a transmitter and receiver capable of reaching up to 4,000 km from scratch, using parts available in Tokyo shops without raising suspicion. His radio station was fully portable in a large briefcase and assembled in under 10 minutes. The dispatches transmitted to the Soviet Union by Sorge's group were written in English and then converted into digits using a straddling checkerboard and, to scramble the content even more, a book cipher, using pages from a statistical yearbook as the key. The Japanese authorities were not able to decipher the messages, Sorge's encryption method remained unbroken until Max Clausen explained it himself after his arrest in 1941. The historical importance of Sorge's espionage material remains a controversial issue among historians; some call him the greatest spy of all times, some argue that since Stalin did not trust his information, Sorge had little influence on the outcome of World War II. Instead of trying to settle this argument, my talk will examine the technical aspects of Sorge's work in Japan: I will describe the DIY radio station used to wirelessly transmit his dispatches over thousands of kilometers and show how these dispatches were manually encrypted using nothing but a pen, paper, and a book – suggesting that this method is still valid today, offering low-tech ways of concealing information, be it private or politically delicate material. http://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/Fahrplan/events/5474.html Day: 2013-12-27 Start time: 21:45 Duration: 01:00 Room: Saal G Track: Ethics, Society & Politics Language: en

January 02 2014


Eating myself

Exploring our society's obsession with food as a marker of our identity and why we still feel empty despite all the sumptuous cuisines. What we eat is supposed to indicate who we are — for example, eating organic means you're ethical; eating blowfish sashimi means you're adventurous; grating white truffle on your pasta means you're sophisticated. In fact, food has been so thoroughly colonised by commentary and narrative in our consumer-driven culture that what we eat is becoming less and less about nutrition or fuel for the body but more about consuming symbolism and meaning — like social status and identity. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/eating-myself/3133662

Evil Brain Jono's Natural Log

Podcast #2 - Seirei no Moribito Sun, 12 May 2013 18:12 Tagged: friends comics fantasy storytelling anime podcast Here it is: Podcast 2.mp3. (35:45, 32.7 MB) Recorded Thursday, May 2nd, 2013.0:00 - Visiting Chris in the hospital2:00 - Our anime "book club".4:40 - Anime cons then and now; the fragmentation of fandom.8:00 - Awkward homestucks; cutting-edge cosplay.11:00 - Today's anime: Seirei no Moribito. Kicking butt; pacing.13:00 - What's this show about? Is it set in the distant past of Japan, or an alternate history, or a fantasy world?14:00 - Balsa's characterization.15:30 - Role-playing games and martial arts philosophy.17:00 - Setting development without infodumping.18:00 - Introducing characters via their actions.21:00 - Trying to learn how to introduce characters better in our comics, Squanto and We Can Regrow That For You.23:50 - Making the outer represent the inner in comicking.24:30 - What's up with these fake kanji? Is this Japan or not? (round 2).27:30 - More about the pacing and setting. Characters who aren't good or evil, just trying to live their lives.29:00 - Balsa's challenges are about trust, not fighting. If she was a PTA character.31:30 - The prince's character development, and his silly hairdo.33:30 - Other shows we might watch for anime book club.35:00 - Robotech and stupid "vehicle" Voltron! "Lying to a child!" Comments: satyreyes Tue, 14 May 2013 04:17 Of interest: Do I just have nostalgia goggles for the time when I watched GTO, or was there a time when l'Arc~en~Ciel was actually listenable? Jono Tue, 14 May 2013 20:24 They were really popular back in 2000-2003 when I lived in Japan, but I never liked them. They just struck me as another generic JPop band -- slick and soulless, does nothing for me. Your mileage may vary! Hide Comments | Register to leave comments | Permalink http://evilbrainjono.net/blog?permalink=1223

December 31 2013


Studio 360 examines the Japanese Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony is a 400-year-old ritual for serving green tea. But in Japan's techno-centric society (increasingly fueled by coffee) can the tea ceremony survive? Studio 360’s Jenny Lawton talked with tea masters, old and young.

December 30 2013


The History Of Ninjas

This Program Is Rebroadcast From Februrary 5, 2013.

Japan’s old politics by other means — the real, thousand-year history of the ninja.

Sketches by Hokusai, 1817 (Wikimedia Commons)

Sketches by Hokusai, 1817 (Wikimedia Commons)

The world, our imaginations, can’t seem to get enough of ninja. The original men in black.

We see them skittering over rooftops in the night. Unknowable. Unstoppable. Or maybe as teenage mutant turtles. Whipping nunchuks. Righting wrongs.

The real history of the ninja has had a hard time keeping up with the lore. It goes back to medieval Japan, and poor villagers using stealth and guile to thwart powerful warlords. They were the anti-samurai. Homegrown guardians of a proto-democracy. Of ninjutsu.

This hour, On Point: the real history of the ninja.

-Tom Ashbrook


John Man, author of “Ninja: 1,000 Years Of The Shadow Warrior.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Asian Review of Books “Like sumo wrestlers, samurai, shogun, and other Japanese archetypes, ninja are known outside Japan mostly by exaggerated and often fictionalized characteristics. The exaggerations include their black hooded uniforms and superhuman abilities like walking on water or scaling vertical walls. Ninja have been made even more cartoonish because of the popularity of the comic book and animation series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. John Man helps rectify the misunderstandings about ninja, which is not an easy task as their origins and practices are in the shadows of Japanese history.”

BBC News “Japan’s era of shoguns and samurai is long over, but the country does have one, or maybe two, surviving ninjas. Experts in the dark arts of espionage and silent assassination, ninjas passed skills from father to son – but today’s say they will be the last.”

December 19 2013


A More Assertive China

China is getting more aggressive— at sea, in the air, in space, with journalists. We’ll look at China’s assertive moment.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan inspects a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony prior to a meeting with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP)

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan inspects a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony prior to a meeting with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP)


Jonathan Fenby, writer, journalist and analyst. Former editor of the Observer Newspaper and South China Morning Post. Author of “Tiger Head, Snake Tails: China Today, How It Got There and Where It Is Heading,” “Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power” and the forthcoming “Will China Dominate the 21st Century?” Managing director of the China team at Trusted Sources.

Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: China’s Regional Aggression Takes Flight “In recent weeks, the Chinese have reportedly agreed to purchase Russian Su-35 fighters, among the most advanced in the world. Beijing also has unveiled an upgraded strategic bomber that will carry a new long-range land attack cruise missile. In September, Chinese air forces flew remotely piloted surveillance drones over the Senkakus.”

Foreign Policy: Chinese Netizens Applaud Beijing’s Aggressive New Defense Zone — “On Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, over 200,000 recent posts mention the air defense map; of those sampled, the vast majority lauded Beijing for defending China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As one user wrote, the map ‘lets the little Japanese know that our power does not stop at the tip of our tongue.’ Another wrote it was time for China to ‘take Japan to school and teach it how to act.’”

TIME: Foreign Correspondents in China Do Not Censor Themselves to Get Visas — “The situation isn’t pleasant. Already, the epic air pollution in Beijing, as well as a perceived hardening by the Chinese government toward the foreign business community, has caused many expats to flee. Among foreigners, 2013 has been the year of good-bye parties. When I left Beijing on Sunday, I joked with friends that I might not see them back in China. But it wasn’t that funny.

March 31 2013


Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery

17.01.2013 Daniel Aldrich, Professor, Purdue University This lecture puts the Great East Japan Earthquake into perspective by analysing it in the context of other major disasters. Using micro- and neighborhood-level data from four disasters in three nations over the 20th and 21st centuries, this talk will investigate standard theories of recovery and resilience. Bivariate, time series cross sectional, and matching analyses show that more than factors such as individual or personal wealth, aid from the government, or damage from the disaster, the depth of social capital best predicts recovery. Social capital works through three main mechanisms: elevating voice and suppressing exit, overcoming collective action barriers, and providing informal insurance. Should social networks prove the critical engines before, during, and after disaster, this suggests a new approach to disaster mitigation for NGOs, individuals, and governments. Daniel P. Aldrich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University on leave for the academic year 2012 ̶ 2013 as a Fulbright research professor at Tokyo University. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from Harvard University, an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published two books (Site fights and Building Resilience) and more than 80 peer reviewed articles, book chapters, reviews, and OpEds in locations such as the New York Times, CNN, and the Asahi Shinbun. http://i.dijtokyo.org/events/social_capital_in_post-disaster_recovery

The Cost of NIMBY: Policy Images, Foreign Blueprints and Civil Society’s Assault on Japan’s Post-Fukushima Energy Policy

The political uncertainty of Japan’s post-Fukushima energy policy should not be surprising given the country’s energy constraints. Japan, an economic powerhouse operating within a geographically constrained landmass with virtually no independent energy sources to fuel and stabilize its economic needs, is trapped between two conflicting political problems: a growing segment of the Japanese electorate who reject essential facilities such as electric power plants and transmission wires being built in their backyards versus an equally large segment of the electorate who naturally expect a stable, environmentally safe and inexpensive flow of electric power to support their high standard of living and industrial production. That both expectations are technically and financially incompatible has led to the current political challenge. This lecture places Japan’s post-Fukushima energy challenges and its public policy decisions into perspective by analyzing it in cross-national context. Using heretofore-unexamined archival documents, microeconomic data, and qualitative interviews with key actors in a time-series, this talk explores how and why governments in three developed democracies—Japan, Germany, and UK—pursue the reform of their electric power markets over a long period. The talk emphasizes how periods of stasis (controlled by positive feedback or self-reinforcement) in terms of “policy image” are occasionally offset by bouts of frenetic institutional change. Variations in deliberation timetables, shifting voting patterns in committees, sporadic law promulgation, increasingly negative public opinion polls, and fluctuating media attention cycles (the dependent variables) are analyzed by using the ubiquity, consistency, and strength of foreign economic ideas and events (the independent variables) to explain the transformation of both formal and informal institutions in Japan. Should a media-transmitted image shift be the principal factor behind crisis-induced agenda-setting and decision-making behavior, this talk explores the "real-world" financial, environmental and technological trade-offs of policy objectives prioritizing renewable energy over nuclear power and fossil fuels. Paul J. Scalise is JSPS Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, and Non-resident Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University, Japan Campus. He received his Ph.D. in comparative political economy from the University of Oxford, an M.A. in international economics and Japan studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and his B.A. in political science from Marist College. A former Tokyo-based financial analyst of Japanese energy companies and contributing energy analyst to several global consulting firms, Dr. Scalise was voted by institutional investors the number-one ranked Japanese utilities analyst in 2001 among all UK financial institutions. He has published more than 100 research reports, consulting briefs, reviews, journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and OpEds in locations such as Foreign Policy, Newsweek, and Asahi Shimbun. http://i.dijtokyo.org/events/the_cost_of_nimby

August 28 2012


Keith Fitz-Gerald: The Perils of Underestimating Complexity & Mispricing Risk | Peak Prosperity

"If you’re rich you get a bailout. If you’re poor you get a handout. And if you’re middle class you get left out. " That's not a sustainable way to run the system, exclaims investment strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.A cancer at the core of our current economy is the magical thinking, "no pain, all gain" http://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/79525/keith-fitz-gerald-perils-underestimating-complexity-mispricing-risk

The sound of a tsunami | audiolibre.net

The indescribably chilling sound, recorded on the ocean bottom, using hydrophones belonging to a group researching undersea volcanism, of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that tore up Eastern Japan in March 2011. The sound has been sped-up 16 times. http://audiolibre.net/2012/08/the-sound-of-a-tsunami/

August 23 2012


In Japan, Mobile Startups Take Gaming To Next Level : NPR

An estimated one out of every three Japanese are signed up to play games on their cell phones, helping to grow a mobile gaming juggernaut that's currently dominated by a few Japanese startups. Now, those same startups are eyeing a new playing field — the U.S. http://www.npr.org/2012/08/23/159575805/in-japan-mobile-startups-take-gaming-to-next-level

February 12 2012


Tokyo Podcast 21: Dating in Japan

Tokyo Podcast talks about dating in Japan. Are Japanese girls too shy? Do Japanese guys flirt? What is nanpa? We go in-depth with dating columnist Melissa Feineman in our dating in Japan special episode. http://www.tokyo-podcast.com/dating-in-japan/

January 13 2012


AUDIO: Reviving Japan: Can It Win the Asian Century? - Economics - AEI

June 07 2011


Oregon Trail 13 Commercial | Role Playing Public Radio

Let’s face it. American made video game RPGs suck. Stupid games like Fallout and Fable lack the beauty of tentacled chaos demons and incoherent storylines that only a Japanese RPG can deliver. But now, the Japanese have taken the American classic, The Oregon Trail and made it better…with chaos nose goblins!

May 11 2011


Kustler: Lessons from Japan: How to Behave When the Shit Hits the Fan

Podcast: Play in new window | Download James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, The Geography of Nowhere and the World Made By Hand novels joins us this week to talk about the still-unfolding crisis in Japan. As we observe how the http://financialsurvivalradio.com/028-kunstler-japan/

April 30 2011


April 20 2011


Das Atom und die Popkultur – Eine Kulturgeschichte des nuklearen Super-Gaus in Film, Comic und Computerspiel

April 04 2011


Science Weekly podcast: Julian Baggini on 'the self'; plus, how love can save the environment | Science | guardian.co.uk

We attempt to explain 'the self' with Julian Baggini; Tim Flannery tells us how love can save the environment; and Brian Cox answers the 'Hannaford question' http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/audio/2011/apr/04/science-weekly-podcast-julian-baggini
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