Monday, November 30, 2015

Sequels in November 2015

November 27, 2015
Russian military jet was destroyed by Turkey

Turkey returned body of the pilot on Russian jet to Russia on Sunday. The reaction of Russia is unclear.

Reuters: Turkey recovers body of pilot from downed Russian jet

November 14, 2015
Carnage at the Bataclan etc. in Paris

In France, hatred against ISIS is rising more than ever before. Paris is still under state of emergency.

Friday, November 6, 2015
Russian airplane crashed in Egypt

Egypt is calling for international collaboration to deal with the terrorism. However, the relationship between Russia, Egypt, and Turkey is worsening.

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Bitcoin rising

The price of Bitcoin maintains high level. But the last year its price was even higher. I am not sure if this tendency will remain.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Headache and sore throat

Since yesterday, I have had terrible headache and sore throat. Maybe it is viral pharyngitis. I feel seriously ill, and this weekend is spoiled.

Sometimes, I catch a cold. In the UK, I had some bad experiences. I thought they were due to foreign bacteria or viruses. But, my body is getting vulnerable to viral infection recently, perhaps. In the forties, apparently I tend to catch a cold more frequently than previously, with the symptoms getting severer.

My past entry: Severe cold

Getting old is inevitable for all human beings. Nonetheless, we should be aware to maintain our health. On Friday, I enjoyed a dinner with my colleagues. Soon after returning home, I felt cold, and I rinsed my throat out. But it seems not to be adequate to prevent the infection.

I hope I will be OK tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Merger of Pfizer and Allergan

Pfizer, a world-famous pharmaceutical company, decided to consolidate Allergan. The deal will cost 150 billion USD. The two companies have already agreed to the consolidation, and the biggest pharma in the world will be born.

International Business Times: Pfizer and Allergan agree on $160bn deal to create world's biggest pharma firm

Pfizer is an American company. But it will be able to be administered by Irish taxation rule because Allergan’s headquarter is in Dublin. It will benefit to Pfizer.

However, it is not the reason for this combination, although it is common for international companies to be seeking for tax havens. Pfizer made a large amount of profit from Viagra.

But it has not developed new innovative drugs for a decade. Instead, Pfizer bought several companies accompanied with the patents of newly drugs they had developed. Establishing a new drug needs the astronomical amount of money. The Pfizer model seems less risky than venturing for an innovative drug on its own.

Nowadays, even highly recognized companies are struggling to stabilize their financial status. Such a merger of big pharmaceutical companies is not rare at all.

Pfizer is selling some psychotropic drugs such as Solanax, a benzodiazepine-type anxiolytic. I owe my clinical practice partially to Pfizer, though not meaning any direct interest. Therefore, I hope it will get the further achievement, for the benefit of the patients.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Russian military jet was destroyed by Turkey

An astonishing news. Turkey shot down Russian military plane on Nov 24. The Turkish government explained the reason that an unidentified plane had violated Turkish airspace. When I heard the news at first, I misunderstood as if Russia had shot Turkish airplane, to be honest.

Reuters: Turkey downs Russian warplane near Syria border, Putin warns of 'serious consequences'

It is for the first time for NATO that its member attacked Russian force, since its establishment. This fact means that the relationship between NATO and Russia is in tension more seriously than during the cold war.

Russia blamed Turkey with comparing it to a terrorist. The NATO is aiming to calm Turkey down not to burn further conflict. However, Turkey seems not to make an apology to Russia. On the contrary, it blames Russia for the border violation again.

Independent: Turkey shoots down Russian jet: War of words rages on as Nato convenes emergency meeting in Brussels

Russia decided to bring sanctions against Turkey. They will influence the economic status of both countries. Russia is the second largest trading partner of Turkey, and Turkey is the most popular resort for Russian tourists.

Russia plans sanctions against Turkey over jet downing

It is obvious that this conflict will inflict serious damage to the both country. Since the leaders are hesitating to make a compromise with each other, some third person, such as France, will be required to repair the relationship.

Russia and Turkey are on the opposite side upon the policy against Syria. Turkey, as well as other Western allies, are eager to dismiss ruling Asad administration in Syria. But Russia wants Asad to survive. This discrepancy has been considered to be a barrier in joint operation against ISIS.

I hope nobody wants to worsen the situation. If someone make an error in dealing with this issue, it is possible that an international war, not even against ISIS, begins.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Agony of iPad Pro

Apple’s iPad Pro seems suffering in the sales.

iPad Pro, a new model of iPad with 12.9-inch touch panel was released on Nov. 11. It equips A9X CPU and 4GB RAM. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said that iPad Pro would replace conventional PCs.

However, its sales are quite sluggish. Its speed of spread is less than a sixth of iPad Air’s. Now, iPad Pro is occupying only 0.3% of all iPad family.

ITProPortal: iPad Pro adoption is the worst for any iPad ever

Surprisingly, iPad 2 is still dominant even in 2015. Indeed, iPad 2 is working well in my home. This fact suggests the excellence of iOS and products of Apple. Consumers need not abandon an old iPad because of its good endurance, ironically. On the other hand, I feel that any Android devices get obsolescent within a couple of years.

There are other reasons why iPad Pro does not become popular. People do not believe that it can be an alternative of PCs. Being attached to the keyboard, iPad Pro has almost the same weight as MacBook. Their performance is also similar. Thus, there is no benefit to change your Mac to iPad Pro.

It is fatal that most apps have not been optimized to iPad Pro. The situation is similar to the moment just after the release of the first iPad. If many apps for iPad Pro are released, the usability of iPad Pro will be improved. But providers may hesitate to adjust the apps to iPad Pro quickly, because it has not been dominant.

iPad Pro does well match as a magazine reader because of its footprint. However, I am afraid that the industry of magazines itself is shrinking. In the near future, no one will read such a bundle of large paper.

I think that the ultimate solution of Apple is the integration of OS X and iOS. The next generation of MacBook would be an iPad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My dreams (1)

I have some dreams.

I declare my goal of the year at every beginning of the years, as I wrote in 2013, 2014, and 2015. These statements are rather a concept than a dream. I also desire to be always progressive. It is not a concrete dream, either.

So, what are my dreams? Actually, I wrote a list of my dreams at Yakushima when I visited there some years ago. Some of them I have accomplished, and some others are still fantastic.

In the list, a total of 43 items were described. To be honest, I tried to make 100 dreams, but I could not continue to make more dreams. And, there are the items of the list I have already realized below.

(1) Write a blog.
(2) Live abroad.
(3) Begin a side business on the internet.
(4) Eat a Buddha Jumps Over the Wall

Unfortunately, only four goals I have achieved so far.

However, it is blessing for me, because it means many dreams remain to be realized, such as:

(4) Become a man who wears an Armani suit naturally.
(5) Wear glasses of Concept Y bland to fit.
(6) Make creating custom-made shoes.
(7) Eat a course of Manchu Han Imperial Feast.
(8) Eat a fully ripened Banana in Philippine.
(9) Create a bottle of pickles at home.
(10) Purchase a castle.

My ambitions are still expanding, even not so great they are, to be glad.

(To be continued, some day.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oversleep may be unhealthy

Yesterday was a holiday, so I overslept till noon. To be honest, I was indulged in a nice computer game for a week, and it was getting rid of my sleeping time, shamefully.

Oversleeping is actually harmful to your health. Indeed, I woke up today with a little depressed mood.

Studies suggest that changing sleeping schedule on the weekend is an unhealthy habit. Persons with shift-time sleeping were likely to have greater risks of metabolic syndrome.

The New York Times: Sleeping In Feels So Good, but May Be Unhealthy

This study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Healthy working volunteers were recruited to assess their chronotype and the state of social jetlag. As a result, participants with taking more sleep by more than one hour in holidays than usual had higher triglycerides, and insulin level.

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Social Jetlag, Chronotype, and Cardiometabolic Risk

This study is cross-sectional. Thus, it is unclear that social jetlag is a cause of metabolic syndrome. It is possible that unhealthy people cannot take enough sleep in working days. But I think this result does make sense.

The brain remembers the lack of sleep for a couple of weeks, according to a researcher. If it is true, it is rational to compensate the sleeping time in a holiday. On the contrary, you should not take a long-time sleep after the night you could not sleep well, in a modern theory of sleep science. Waking up at the same time every day is recommended, regardless of sleep quality and quantity to maintain your physical health. I feel it is difficult to carry out, though.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Recession and suicide in the UK

Recently, a study was published mentioning the UK financial situation and suicide rate.

Universities of Bristol, Manchester, and Oxford estimated that 1,000 extra suicide occurred due to an economic depression in recent years. Indeed, the number of suicide in men was increasing for these some years in the UK.

The Guardian: Austerity a factor in rising suicide rate among UK men – study

It is well known that financial issues are relevant to the mental health. There is a word “depression,” expressing both economic downturn and lowered mental activity.

In the recession, the suicide rate in men tends to be elevated. It suggests that men are more likely to be influenced by the social atmosphere because they have to earn money for their family.

The situation is similar in Japan. In 1999, the suicide rate was rocketed, following the bankrupts of some major domestic companies. However, such social events hardly influenced women’s suicide rate.

Is austerity adverse for the human’s mental health? The answer is maybe yes. Greek are also suffering from elevated suicide rate after the beginning of austerity. However, it is often inevitable for the government to progress the austerity policy. If the government fails to compress the amount of national debt, it will be another cause of suicides.

My past entry: Suicide in Greece

In Japan, the suicide rate is gradually decreasing for a couple of years. The reason is not clear. Some people insist that Abenomics, the new economic policy of Abe administration, worked effectively. But others think it attributes simply to the change in population demographics.

My past entry: Reduction of suicide in 2012 in Japan

Anyway, the change of suicide rate in the UK seems not so dramatic compared to that in Japan. I think it is doubtful that austerity is the main reason for raised suicide rate in the UK.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Placebo makes you faster, according to experiment

Generally speaking, our physical condition is considerably influenced by the psychological status. For example, your toothache may be alleviated by taking a painkiller, even if the capsule is empty. It is well known as a placebo effect.

Placebo effect was introduced by Beecher in his paper titled “The Powerful Placebo” in 1955 for the first time. Since then, it has been a common sense in physicians that we can enhance our performance with believing that we are enhanced with drugs. Nowadays, almost all newly medications are required to be examined with a placebo-controlled trial before being approved of their effectiveness.

And, the placebo effect is also seen in sports activities, according to researchers. In the University of Glasgow, 15 male amateur athletes were recruited to participate an experiment. They took an injection of mock erythropoietin, a substance used to increase red blood cells. After the injection, they achieved better scores, in spite that the material injected was saline.

The New York Times: A Placebo Can Make You Run Faster

In the original article, it was mentioned that the degree of improvement in the performance of athletes was not equal to the effect of real erythropoietin. If the effect were not different, erythropoietin would not need to be regulated as a subject of doping.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Effects of an Injected Placebo on Endurance Running Performance

Rather, I think that this result shows that the human is so vulnerable that his mental status can easily alter the physical performance. An excellent trainer can enhance the athlete’s motivation to let him achieve an amazing outcome. By contrast, a terrible boss should be harmful regarding damaging the subordinate in real.

By the way, I am concerned about the methodology of such a study. The participants seemed not to be informed that they would take a placebo. It is the core of this trial. However, disguising participants in an experiment is ethically problematic. Candidates of an experimental attempt have the right to give consent with a full understanding of the experiment in advance. I wonder how the review board members assessed this matter in the ethical committee. Since I could not read the full article at the office, unfortunately, I am not sure about the thought of the authors in detail.

Split opinion between EU and UK about Bitcoin's risk

The price of Bitcoin is still vulnerable. It was rocketed a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, Paris attack seems not to affect its trend.

The EU is planning to crackdown on the use of crypt-currency such as Bitcoin, after the terror attack in Paris last weekend. It intended to “strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards.”

Reuters: EU clamps down on bitcoin, anonymous payments to curb terrorism funding

The ministers were gathered in Brussel on Nov 20th, 2015, to agree with the policy of controlling the flow of several methods to move money anonymously. They include digital currency, pre-paid cards, and gold. EU sets sights on virtual currencies

Indeed, ISIS and other extremists are frequently using newly developed technology, SNSs as well, to gather money and collaborate with each other internationally.

Crypt-currency is a scheme intrinsically free from regulation by the government. Thus, it is suitable for anarchism. It is unavoidable that terrorists and other criminals are fond of using Bitcoin.

On the other hand, Bitcoin is not deemed as a method good for money laundering, according to the UK government. Government publishes anti-money laundering assessment and commits to action plan

The UK is one of the friendliest countries to Bitcoin. It declared to invest a large amount of budget to the research of blockchain, the key concept of Bitcoin. And the result of its investigation was that digital currency had lower risk than banks and other agents of being used for money laundering by terrorists.

HM Treasury and Home Office: UK national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing

Actually, Bitcoin enables us to trade money under complete anonymity. However, exchanging Bitcoin for real money is not safe for illegal traders. Also, the transaction of Bitcoin is entirely recording in the blockchain. It means that the police can trace the whole process of the operation, potentially. I do not think Bitcoin is risky in terms of encouraging illegal activities very much.

On the contrary, it is difficult to regulate the trade using digital currency. A global regulation is necessary to control virtual trades, and it seems not to be feasible.

It is unsure whether the decision of EU will be an obstacle to the traders.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Women can produce a baby without men?

Today’s topic is another issue regarding reproduction. And it is more astonishing than uterus transplantation.

Researchers in China was successful in producing a mouse infant from two eggs, without sperm. They extracted an ovum-derived embryonic stem cell, to inject it into another ova. The egg successfully changed into a litter of baby mice.

International Business Times: Are men redundant? Baby mice created using two mothers and no father

A stem cell is known as its potential to transform into massively variable forms of the cell. In human, several utilities of stem cells are under investigation. However, this is the first time for me to know that stem cell can be a substitute of sperm.

Indeed, a sperm has much simpler structure than an ovum. Nonetheless, I hardly believe this report, to be honest.

Researchers say that the success rate is only 15%. And they denied the possibility of utilization of this technique into a human subject. If we can produce offspring without men, it would be a boom for lesbians. But, of course, there would be far more complicated problems emerged in the society.

I am a little afraid that someone will make an experiment using human tissues secretly. If the result is successful, it would be tough to determine who are responsible for the child of two women. The child will have to be strictly observed during all his or her life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Terrible update of Windows 10

One day, my smartphone made an alert about the traffic suddenly.

I was surprised to check the amount of data received via the smartphone. It reached over 3 GB just before. I hardly understood what the graph meant.

When this incident happened, I was using tethering. Using tethering, you can connect your PC to the internet through the smartphone which take a role as a WiFi router. Once a week, I work at a clinic where there are no available wireless LAN. So, I favored using my smartphone as a tethering machine.

It was unfortunate that a Windows update automatically started then.

Windows 10, installed in my note PC occasionally update its system files. Just then, "Windows 10 Threshold 2 (TH2)" began to be delivered to my PC. It seemed that it contained some GBs of data. And it was terrible that the download of the files was carried out without any hesitation by the PC itself. I would not have been able to stop the download even if I had noticed the procedure. Microsoft has not provided an option to avoid updating your Windows 10.

Therefore, my smartphone was forced to download a large amount of data. My mobile phone provider limits the amount of data transaction to prevent the traffic jam of the internet. As a result, I have to be patient with lowered speed of communication for a half month.

The scheme of Windows 10 update is infamous. You are mandated to update Windows 10 regularly. And this process is automatically conducted. Besides of my case, there are many risks around unintended updating. It frequently occurs that some devices cause a trouble after updating the OS.

Softpedia: Users Criticize Microsoft for Windows 10 TH2 Bugs: Thank God They Don't Build Airplanes

I have been disappointed to Windows 10 several times. Perhaps, I will choose a Mac for the next computer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Community mental health care conference

Today, I attended a regional symposium about the support for patients with mental disorders.
Four speakers including a psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and psychiatric social workers presented their experience and opinion about community mental health. It was very exciting meeting.

There are many patients suffering mental disorders in Japan. It is estimated that there are 1 million schizophrenic patients, of which a fifth are hospitalized.

Japan is infamous that long-term inpatient care is frequently adopted to psychiatric patients. The majority of inpatients has been in the hospital for more than ten years. This fact is criticized from the view of community mental health.

Actually, acute psychiatric treatment is not bad in Japan. Most of the patients who were forced to be hospitalized can be discharged within some months. But a few patients fail to return to the community. In addition, many inpatients have no home, no family, no friends in the community.

How can we move them out from the hospital?

A speaker emphasized that maximum level of support was necessary to aid their discharge in complicated patients. The supporters visit the home of the patient twice or even three times in a day. Every meal is delivered to the home. If the patient disappeared, the workers in the hospital, officials in the local health center, and the police are collaborated to search him. After several months of the early life in the community, most patients, even with extremely severe psychotic symptoms, become less vulnerable. And they will be able to live without maximized support.

A group home owner told that psychiatrists tend to overestimate psychotic symptoms of the patients. Some patients can get along with others even they are suffering from serious hallucination and delusion. Instead, violent patients easily fail to live in a group home. However, psychiatrists working in the hospital often reject to hospitalize aggressive patients. It is irrational, according to him.

Nowadays, psychiatric medication is so developed that many patients can recover from the seriously ill mental state. On the other hand, the power to accept them as a member of the community is still developing in Japan. We have to share the risk of the patients. A speaker showed an example in which a patient with schizophrenia became an owner of a group home. He had managed the accommodation for seven years. Unfortunately, the group home had to be closed, finally. Nonetheless, this fact suggests patients with mental disorders can become not only the receiver but also a provider of community care.

Listening to the presentations, I was encouraged very much. Now, I have to reconsider the contents of my current work, to improve the performance regarding supporting the patients.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Uterus transplantation

Medical transplantation has splendidly developed. Nowadays, several organs are subjected to be transplanted. And such operations save many patients’ life.

Recently, uterus transplantation attracts attention of physicians and patients suffering from infertility. Not a few women are born with some congenital deficits in their internal sex organ. In addition, some have to get extracted their uterus due to diseases or trauma. Their hope to be pregnant had never accomplished. But now, the situation has been changed.

Nine uterine transplantation were conducted in Sweden. And September 2014, the first child was born from a transplanted uterus. There are some other successful birth cases, while two failed. Now, the US and the UK are going to follow Sweden.

The New York Times: Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnant

It is wondering whether transplanted uterus can take the role of protecting the fetus for several months. I am not specialized to this issue. Uterus is exposed to hormones created in the ovaries, and alters its shape. The fatal immunological reaction is possible to occur if artificial treatment was not added. Fortunately, adverse effects of immunosuppressant drugs seem not to be a serious problem to the fetus. After the birth, the uterus can be removed, meaning that the recipient can stop taking anti-rejection drugs.

Nonetheless, transplantation is not a safe solution. In addition to the risk of the surgery, close observation must be continued during the pregnant term.

In the modern world, there are some options to become a mother. Adoption is quite common. Surrogate birth is also carried out. Being compared to their methods, uterus transplantation has a much greater risk, but looks like beneficial to some women who strongly hope to get a child.

The donor can be dead, but a living donor participated in the operation in a Swedish case. I am afraid that the issue around organ trade will be ignited soon. Whether it is permitted to give your organs for money is not an easy question. The uterus is not a necessary organ for women not to hope to be pregnant. Therefore, criminal organizations will easily gather uteri from poor people. There is a matter of human ethics. Innovative technology is always preceding to the ethical discussion.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Two cups taught me the meaning of context

Recently, the value of context attracts great attention in the business industry. Previously, effective business meant the maximization of the effectiveness of each process in production. It was merely a sum of contents. However, it does not always ensure the maximum creativity, based on new rationale.

Context is a juxtapose of content. It means the connection of each content that is sometimes unclear. Understanding deeply about the context is often essential to interpret the situation precisely.

I have a simple example of the concept of context.

I saw a cute mug cup in a store in London. Some cats were drawn on the cup. However, the descriptions beside each cat were not consistent with their postures.

I wondered what did they mean for a while. And then, my question was solved by finding another cup near to the one.

In the other cup, some dogs were drawn, instead of cats, with the same touch. I guessed the artist who drew the pictures created these two kinds of cups at the same time.

And, the descriptions beside the dogs correctly expressed the motion of each dog.

Does it make sense?

Cats are a very selfish animal. They never obey the order of its master, far different from dogs. The cup suggests the naughtiness of cats directly.

I would not have understood the meaning of the descriptions beside the cats if I had not seen the other cup. It is the power of context.

I bought a cup with cats, a glass with dogs as well. They have to be paired. It means that the seller was successful to sell two items instead of one, with the context.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Male and Female Brain, denied by a study

There are many suspicious hypotheses that are well known to the public. “Male / Female Brain” is one of these thoughts yet to be proven.

Most men are braver than women, and most women are delicate than men. Men are superior to women in evaluating the objective situation, while women are good at reading the mind. Men are more aggressive than women. But are they true? If so, are then driven by the difference in the brain structure?

Some people are strongly opposing to this kind of idea. They claim that the gender difference is only attributable to the nurture. Women are taught to play a subsidiary role in their childhood. It makes women difficult to flourish in the society.

This issue is often discussed as so-called Nature vs. Nurture problem. In the modern world, it is deemed as a taboo to insist that men are superior to women in the brain activity. Such a statement is sometimes seriously criticized by feminists.

A recent study denied the difference of gender in the brain. Lise Eliot concluded that the hippocampus was the same size in both men and women, based on a meta-analysis of over 6,000 MRI scans. There is probably no such thing as a 'male' and 'female' brain

Meta-analysis is a strategy to integrate multiple studies in the same theme. It provides us more reliable evidence than any single study. According to this study, there is no reason we should consider the volume of the hippocampus is different in gender. The hippocampus is an area of the brain which is considered as a storage of memory. Previously, women were believed to be superior to men in episodic memory. The wife remembers the fact that the husband forgot their wedding anniversary for some decades. But it is not because of the hippocampus.

This study has only proven an aspect of the gender equality in the brain. There are many other regions in the brain to be investigated, and most of them are unclear regarding their function. I do not think that there are absolutely same between male and female in the brain structure and function.

Also, it is another issue how to live as a man or woman, or other genders. The brain is not decisive upon your lifestyle.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Carnage at the Bataclan etc. in Paris

Unfortunately, every newspaper shows the same content on its cover. On Nov. 13th, 2015, Paris was threatened by a massive terror attack.

At least seven incidents occurred in Paris likely to be relevant to each other. First, two restaurants were attacked, and then a music concert hall was occupied by the terrorists. Some suicidal attacks were also identified.

More than 140 people have died, according to city officials. Most of them were victimized in the concert hall. Many others were wounded.

The Bataclan, a popular music hall was filled with fear. According to survivors, there were six to eight gunmen intruded the hall, with a Kalashnikov-type rifle. Some of them looked the 20s. They started shooting blindly into the audience. After the police had surrounded the building, some attackers blew themselves up with explosives finally.

At the time of the shooting, the Bataclan had supported the Charlie Hebdo, a French newspaper company attacked by ISIS in January, by displaying the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” at the front of the concert hall.

This fact imagines us the possibility these cases were caused by ISIS. At present, however, it is still under investigation about who are the gunmen.

If these cases, as well as the recent downing of a Russian Airbus over the Sinai desert, are attributable to ISIS, the security policies in Europe have to be dramatically amended. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the French government had increased security. But the endeavor of preventing terrors failed to protect the citizens.

French President Francois Hollande said a state of emergency, considering the situation seriously, and shut the national borders down. His plan to attend to G20 meeting in Turkey was canceled. The military has taken the field to fix the situation. 

Obama, the US President, also condemned the horrible attacks in Paris, deeming them as an attack on all of humanity. The US is prepared to provide assistance to France, he added.

The situation is extremely tensioning. I can hardly imagine such evil crimes. Pray for the victims.

*Just before, Islamic State published a declaration of commitment.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Force Awaken with a dying man

There is sad but heartwarming news. A Star Wars lover going to die got the privilege to see the new film earlier than its release.

The man is 31-year-old, and suffering from progressive cancer. The malignant cells were invading his lungs with a rapid pace. His life expectancy was estimated as a couple of months.

As an enthusiastic Star Wars lover, he hoped to see the new episode “the Force Awakens.” This title is the seventh episode of Star Wars saga. George Lucas, the original director, considered it as a composition of nine episodes firstly, but abandoned to make last three episodes. Some years ago, Walt Disney Company purchased the George Lucas Film and decided to create other episodes remained. This decision made many fanciers, include me, excited.

Awake the Force is going to be published two months later. The dying man’s wish to see the Force Awaken was widely spread on social media. And JJ Abrams, the director, made a cool decision, to let the man see the unfinished version of this promised film. Finally, the wish was realized. The screening seems to have been held at his home.

It is no doubt that the JJ Abrams’ behavior made a good advertisement for this film. It was lucky for the man that social media was effective to send his wish to the director and many interested parties. Nonetheless, it is an act of virtue. It is cool to consider that force is with the man. Giving a dream to people is the true goal of the film, I think.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1000th Anniversary

If calculated correctly, this entry is the 1000th post on my blog "Shiina's Asymmetric World."

It was three years ago I decided to start my blog in English. The first purpose was to learn English writing. My first entry was composed of only five lines. Actually, it took half an hour and a little courage to write this entry.

My past entry: Asymmetric World

I am proud to have continued this attempt so far. I know most of our habits will end soon.

My past entry: Good habit is Mikka-Bouzu

Compared to three years ago, the speed of writing the blog was considerably hastened. Now I can write any description I intend to express, although an aid of an electric dictionary and grammar checker are necessary.

On the other hand, it has been difficult for me to improve the quality of the articles I wrote. I seldom get advice from others about my composition. Unless being taught by a native writer, I hardly notice the flaws in my sentences. I sometimes use a proof writing service, but it is costly.

Someone said that trying 1000 times makes you an expert. Unfortunately, I have proven that this saying is wrong. I am still a poor English writer.

Nonetheless, writing a blog brought me another benefit. Writing an article is fun, to be honest. Struggling to make sentences for reporting something to others is very exciting. And, some people I do not know read my entries. It's fantastic!

This blog has not been over. I will write the 1001st entry tomorrow. I am thankful to anyone to be curious about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to connect your Android 6 to your Windows

Recently, I encountered a trouble regarding my Nexus 5, a smartphone.

One day, I tried to transfer some movie files from my Windows PC to Nexus 5 via micro USB cable. But there were no files appeared on the explorer, in spite that Nexus 5 itself was recognized on Windows.

I was confused because there were several reasons suggested to be responsible for this phenomenon. Some software was installed recently. The USB cable was relatively aged. The storage of Nexus 5 did not have enough volume.

I tried several possibilities, and searched some website to seek a solution. But they were in vain. Finally, I decided to reset my smartphone.

The initializing took half an hour without troubles. Surprisingly, the issue was not resolved at all. The folder named “Nexus 5” looked still empty.

However, this status gave me a clue. I guessed that there might be some issues around Android OS itself. Initialization did not roll back the OS version. I noticed that the OS of my Nexus 5 was Android 6.0 Marshmallow. So, I sought some websites about Android 6.0 again. Finally, a Japanese website gave me a solution.

Following the direction of this blog, I fixed the problem. After that, an English site was also found.

I will write the summary of the solution.

(1) Enable the “Developer Option” with tapping the “Build Number” on the terminal information page seven times.
(2) Connect the smartphone to the Windows PC via micro USB cable.
(3) Change the option of “USB setting” from MTP to another type (e.g. Charging only). And wait for a while during installation of the new driver automatically.
(4) Change the option of “USB setting” to MTP again.

That’s all.

Every time you want to connect the smartphone to the PC, you have to complete this procedure. The situation is the same regardless of the version of Windows. I confirmed it on Windows 7 and 10.

It seems that Google dislikes us to connect Android to Windows directly. It may be a marketing reason, or technical one. Anyway, it is quite inconvenient. I expect someone will develop an app to address this matter soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Alpaca, capybara, and other animals

Last weekend, I visited a zoo. It was a long ago when I visited a zoo the last time. So, I was a little excited to expect to see some strange animals.

It was located in a rural highland. The field was spreading.

Alpaca is a kind of camelid which is originated from Peru. You take excellent fur from it. Besides, its fanny face attracts visitors in Japan.

In this zoo, a few babies of alpaca were born recently. They were small and charming.

On the other hand, mature alpaca looked a little provocative.

There were several capybaras in the zoo. Capybara is a large rodent. They were extremely calm. They did not move at all when I was approaching.

Some maras were kept in the same area. Mara is also a kind of rodent, but smaller than capybara. They were very pretty.

I could touch them. Their fur was surprisingly solid.

There were some Penguins in another area.

Perhaps, I saw kangaroos for the first time there.

Some mountain cats were kept in a secure cage. They looked sensitive.

A camel was eating grass. Another one was lying on the ground. A strange shape.

Most animals looked satisfied, but horses looked gloomy.

They were all fantastic.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Financial incentives improve your health? A reseach

Most physicians may have imagined if they had much money for better treatment for their patients. In real, there are several limitations in a clinical setting. Not a few patients have to abandon the continuation of the treatment due to the lack of financial support. Physicians neither have enough money to spend for intensive treatment, unfortunately.

So, in contract, what will happen if the patients and physicians are given money? Gaining money works as a strong incentive to promote the targeted behaviors, as many studies show. Can a physician improve the performance of clinical work for a better salary? And does a patient make more efforts to lose his weight for getting a reward?

Recently, this fundamental question was examined in a sophisticated way.

JAMA: Effect of Financial Incentives to Physicians, Patients, or Both on Lipid Levels
A Randomized Clinical Trial

The authors conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effect of financial rewarding in the clinical work to reduce LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol should be controlled to maintain physical health. Remaining LDL cholesterol at a high level becomes a risk of a cardiovascular event such as myocardial infarction. Patients having such risks were chosen as the participants for this study.

In this trial, physicians were assigned to one of the four groups: patient-incentive, physician-incentive, shared-incentive, or control. Physicians in the incentive group were rewarded if their patient achieved the targeted level of LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, patients in the incentive group occasionally got money if they took the daily pills regularly. In the shared-incentive group, the amount of each reward was halved to distribute it to the physician and the patient.

As a result, only shared-incentive group accomplished in maintaining the LDL cholesterol of the patients at a lower level than other groups with statistical significance. Surprisingly, the mean value of the reduction in LDL cholesterol in the patient-incentive group was almost the same as a control group.

This study is highly well structured. Since physicians were randomly assigned to either group, there look no differences between groups in several elements of the participants potentially confounding the effect of incentives. For example, rich patients can be indifferent to the small amount of reward. Highly educated patients may have a better understanding about the incentive. Such factors are proven not to have interfered the result of this study.

Additionally, patients in the incentive groups were given an intermittent reinforcement with a lottery system. They got money after taking pills with a certain possibility. It is well known that immediate rewarding maximize the effect to promote the preceding behavior. On the contrary, delayed rewarding is not so effective for reinforcing a particular behavior. If they had been rewarded only annually, they would not have been reinforced correctly. Furthermore, intermittent rewarding is believed to be more powerful than regular rewarding, as you know that gambling is so attractive.

The patient-incentive group received no benefit from the incentive in the reduction of LDL cholesterol. But a post-hoc analysis revealed that daily lotteries for medication adherence were effective only in patients having been taking medication at the baseline. Chronically medicated patients may need some incentives to enhance their motivation for daily taking pills.

The authors concluded the effectiveness of shared incentive for patients and physicians. But I think these results show it is likely that a simplified financial incentive is not beneficial in the health matter. Indeed, there have already been several schemes to promote the public health. If it were effective, there would not be obese people.

It remains a question why this kind of incentive for patients was not effective. Physicians may not be fascinated in the reward because they had already earned enough money. But how about the patients?

I imagined a study in which two groups were compared. In this study, participants in the control group are encouraged to take a task not relevant to their health status (i.e. taking an explicit placebo every morning) for the reward. With believing the authors' assumption, their vain behavior should be reinforced. Thus, taking pills regularly is specifically difficult to maintain for patients, even comparing with a meaningless behavior. Interesting.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Historic meeting of China and Taiwan

On Nov. 7, 2015, Chinese and Taiwanese leaders had a historic meeting.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at Singapore and took a conference. They shook hands for one minute in front of reporters. It is for the first time since Taiwan was established in 1949.

CNBC: Leaders of China, Taiwan meet for first time in six decades

Singapore was chosen as the place of the meeting because it is one of the cities maintaining neutral stance between them. Singapore is adopting Chinese and English as the official languages, and permit many international companies to deal with the business.

The Wall Street Journal: China-Taiwan Summit a Success for Singapore

The two leaders confirmed that there is “One-China” base on the consensus established in 1992, meaning that at present Communist Party and Taiwan Nationalist Party are only conflicting regarding the sovereignty of China, rather than China itself has been split into two nations. This recognition seems beneficial to the both leaders.

On the other hand, Chinese President was reluctant to shrink the military force. When Ma referred the missiles placed on the seashore in front of Taiwan, Xi merely said that these weapons were not aiming at Taiwan, without mentioning the possibility of the removal of the missiles.

Focus Taiwan: Taiwanese concerned about China's military threat, Ma told Xi

After all, there was no progress toward the reunion of China in this meeting. However, they agreed to the idea that a hotline connecting them will be developed. I do not think the situation around Taiwan will be amended soon following this conference. Nonetheless, it is certain that the relationship between China and Taiwan will become closer.

The result of the next election in Taiwan is crucial. Opposite Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) seems to be advantageous. DPP is against the One-China policy. If it wins the next Presidential election next year, it may break the consensus in 1992. In this case, the confirmation of the two leaders in this meeting will control the next President’s diplomatic policy.

Xi declared the willingness of Chinese to make negotiations with Taiwanese as far as they adhere the One-China policy. In this sense, China seemed to prioritize the stability of this region to its authority.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A 2x2 matrix reveals Japanese forensic mental health systems

There are several methods for problem solving. Among them, 2x2 matrix is simple and useful to clarify your thought.

A 2x2 matrix is composed of four cells divided by two axes. At first, you need to decide these axes. It is often not easy to find the axes that can precisely categorize the components into four cells.

I will show an example of forensic mental health issues, as my specialty. There are several strategies to treat mentally disordered offenders. You can punish them in a harsh way. You can also choose to forgive them considering their severe impairment of mental ability. Forcible treatment in a psychiatric facility is another option. So, how do you classify these options?

I set the two axes: “Priority: punishment or treatment”, and “Responsibility: the subject or the society,” as below.

The Priority axis determines whether you punish the mentally disordered offenders or give psychiatric treatment to them. Of course, both are offered concurrently, but you should simplify the situation at this time.

On the other hand, Responsibility axis determines which is emphasized as the subject to be responsible for addressing the offending, the offenders themselves, or the society.

Thus, there are four cells each of which has mutually exclusive alignment. I named each cell conveniently like below.

In “Formalism” cell, mentally disordered offenders are punished in the same way as healthy people. Their punishment is not amended regardless of the severity of the offender.

On the contrary, in “Paternalism” cell, mentally disordered offenders are never punished. They are forgiven because of their mental illness. Instead, they are treated in a special hospital for addressing their psychiatric symptoms.

In “Authoritarianism” cell, mentally disordered offenders are deemed as criminals, but psychiatric treatment is given. The society is responsible for preventing further offending by them.

In “Humanism” cell, treatment is prioritized to punishment for mentally disordered offenders. But they are responsible for accepting treatment adequately. If they refuse to obey the treatment order, they can be incarcerated.

Ok, these four cells meet mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE). Next, I will apply some archetypes of strategy in Japan into this matrix.

In Japan, prisoners are hardly given psychiatric treatment, unfortunately, without some exceptions. Most of them engage the correctional work in prison. So, Japanese prison is applied to the Formalism cell.

However, some prisoners who have so severe psychiatric symptoms that they cannot be managed in an ordinary prison are to be sent to a medical prison. In medical prisons, offenders are given psychiatric treatment, and they need not engage the correctional work. However, they are still prisoners, and will be released when the term of incarceration is over. So, medical prison is applied to Authoritarianism cell.

In contrast, Medical Treatment and Supervision Act provides a scheme of medical treatment for mentally disordered offenders. Offenders who were identified as not guilty for the reason of insanity or with diminished criminal responsibility are subjected to this scheme. Once approved, they will be never punished for the issued offense. Instead, involuntary treatment is provided to treat their mental disorders. So, psychiatric facilities offering the treatment based on the MTS Act is applied to the Paternalism cell.

The last cell remained is the Humanism cell. Surprisingly, there are no schemes applicable to the cell in Japan. It seems to be unbalanced. I think Drug Court in the US is appropriate to match this cell. Similar schemes are under consideration in Japanese administrative framework, but yet to be adopted.

Above all, the matrix thought has revealed the weakness of Japanese policy for mentally disordered offenders. So useful.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Russian airplane crashed in Egypt

Another topic about the airplane, but too bad one.

A Russian airliner flying from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt was crashed soon after its levitation. All 224 passengers and crews were killed. It is a terrible disaster.

The Guardian: Egypt says no survivors from Russian plane crash

By the way, there is a controversy about the cause of this disaster. Islamic State (IS), composed of extremists, made a statement of being responsible for the destroyed plane. Most of all passengers were Russians. IS said that they shot it down as revenge to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who ordered the bombing at IS recently.

The Hill: ISIS claims responsibility for Russian plane crash

However, there is skepticism about IS statement. It is doubtful that IS had equipped weapons with enough power to aim at the airplane at 9,000 meters in the sky precisely. The Russian government, as well as Egyptian, dismissed the claim of IS, and began to investigate the cause of this tragedy as usual.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Russian plane crash: Islamic State claims put Vladimir Putin in a bind

On the other hand, it is also possible that someone brought explosives into the plane to commit a suicidal bombing, albeit it is a little inconsistent with the statement of IS. The US intelligence seems to adopt this hypothesis.

Catch News: ISIS planted bomb may have brought down Russian airliner, claims US intelligence report

The possibility of mechanical errors has not been ruled out. Russian airplanes are infamous about its quality, unfortunately. In the past 20 years, a total of 20 fatal accidents was recorded on Russian airlines.

Independent: Egypt plane crash: The tragic recent history of Russian aviation

Anyway, no adequate information has been gathered to determine the true reason for this tragedy. The Egyptian government retrieved the black box of the plane for further investigation. But it will take a while because it was damaged.

Hindustan Times: What went wrong in Egypt: Possible scenarios in Russian jet crash

I have nothing to say about this case at present, other than wishing the victims would rest in peace.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bitcoin rising

Bitcoin is boosting. The price has been doubled in a month. Especially in these some days, it is rocketing.

I am not sure why bitcoin is so strongly bought, but there are some hypotheses.

1. Friendly verdict of European Court

Recently, European Court made a historic decision admitting Bitcoin as money. It means that exchange between bitcoin and real currency is not subjected to taxation. This issue had been a great controversy since Bitcoin was born.

Financial Times: European court ruling bolsters bitcoin

2. Blockchain becomes famous

Blockchain, the technology underlining the maintenance of bitcoin, is attracting the attention of British government. The ministry of finance in the UK is aiming to utilize blockchain, investing 10 million GBP. A similar movement is also observed in the US.

3. Chinese economy

Some people consider the rise of bitcoin connected to the slowdown in Chinese economy. Not a few investors to Chinese market found bitcoin as a haven while China market is in peril.

4. Speculation

Another hypothesis is simpler. Some speculators may control the price of bitcoin. Indeed, the magnitude of the recent rise of bitcoin is incredible. It is possible that the price will fall immediately, considering that Bitcoin is still more volatile than any other major currencies.

The Real Reason For the Rise In Bitcoin Prices

Two years ago, the price of bitcoin reached 1,000 USD. The bubble ended after Chinese government prohibited the trade with crypt-currency.

Anyway, the price will fall, more or less. I wonder when this festival will be finished, but every price rises and falls someday.

*Before posting this entry, the falling of the Bitcoin price began, ironically.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Some issues in the airplane trip

As I repeatedly mentioned, I like airplane travel. Riding an airplane for hours is far less stressful than in the past, thanks to tablet devices. In addition, there are many options including LCCs for an abroad traveling. You can choose either inexpensive or comfort journey.

My past entry: Comfortable airplanes

Recently, an article introducing some tips in the airplane was published. An airplane is a mass of various architecture. We have many things yet to know about the management of airline travel.

Independent: 8 things airline pilots won't tell you

In this article, I was surprised to know the reason coffee on the airplane tastes not good. Some chemicals are inserted into the water tanks in the aircraft so that harmful bacteria cannot grow. These chemicals spoil the flavor of coffee. To be honest, I never order coffee in the airplane because I do not like a hot beverage. Therefore, I have not noticed the taste of the coffee in the sky.

The issues about the mobile phone are also interesting. Using electronic devices are strictly restricted in the airplane during takeoff and landing. Actually, they are the riskiest parts in handling an aircraft. So, I understand that crews are nervous about the risk of entangled lines. It seems not so problematic, however, than we imagine so. A similar situation occurred in the hospital. Formerly, using a mobile phone was suspected to interfere the pacemaker in the heart of patients. We requested the patients and families not to use mobile devices in the hospital. Now it has been proven that there are very low risk for a cell phone to confuse the function of the pacemaker.

The other day, there was a bad report. A lady saw a message from her husband on the airplane in which he was going to commit suicide. She asked the crew to stop the plane immediately, but it was not accepted because the plane was approaching to takeoff. After the landing, she got the news that her husband was dead.

In this case, the airline company were criticized not to have taken a flexible reaction to the request of the passenger. I understand someone has the idea that the death would have been prevented if using a mobile phone had been permitted, even if it is unrealistic.

An airplane carries many passengers, always with many dreams, and sometimes a few worries.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Banana protein overcomes viral infection

A particular protein generated from banana is focused regarding its antiviral activity.

Researchers are expecting Banana Lectin, a protein isolated from bananas, to be an agent against HIV, Hepatitis C, and influenza. Banana Lectin was initially extracted in 2010, but the prototype caused several adverse effects. The team developed a modified version, H84T, which is less harmful to the human. The H84T is now under examination on mice.

Live Mint: Drug from banana protein could help fight AIDS, Hepatitis C and influenza viruses

The series of research was published in Cell, a world-famous academic journal. I could not read the full text at home, but it seems quite interesting.

Cell: Engineering a Therapeutic Lectin by Uncoupling Mitogenicity from Antiviral Activity

We would need no physicians if taking bananas were a panacea. Some kinds of virus are easily polymorph their own structure so that external foes cannot catch them. It is why developing the vaccine for a viral infection is difficult.

Nonetheless, scientists have been struggling to address this challenge. Treatment of HIV infection has been evolutionally changed for some decades. AIDS is no more inevitable end of HIV infection. Furthermore, Hepatitis C can be eradicated by Sofosbuvir and some other newly developed antiviral agents. It is only a couple of decades ago that Oseltamivir was developed for treatment and prevention of influenza.

Recent innovation makes me imagine the future in which many viral infections are controllable with medication, which was merely fantasy. I guess the ultimate target for antiviral agents is common cold. Upper respiratory infection is extremely common in almost all regions of the world. There are hundreds of viruses causing wet cough, sneeze, and mild fever, all of which are annoying symptoms. There is no particular solution to conquer common cold in spite of modern medicine. I dream the day that human overcome a cold.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

China quit the one-child policy

Chinese government made a historic decision in the population policy.

Ruling Communist Party will ease the family planning of the couples, permitting them to make two, instead of one, children. It is a significant alteration from Chinese population control with long-lasting one-child policy since 1979.

Reuters: China to allow all couples two children to counter aging population

For several decades, suppression of growing population had been a challenge for China. The dictatorship of Communist Party made it easy, or too successful. Nowadays, the number of young people is only a half of working age population, and older people are approaching to a sixth of working population. Even if the policy change is implemented smoothly, China is still promised to face the aging problem in the near future. Critics say that it is unlikely that the new policy will boost the birth rate.

BBC: China to end one-child policy and allow two

Generally speaking, the birth rate is higher in poorer countries. There are several reasons. In some developing countries, many children cannot survive their childhood. And parents invest all money to one child who is the most talented in their children, to expect he or she will be successful on abroad. Apart from the ethical issue, this method is potentially beneficial to the gifted child. On the other hand, parents in developed countries need not worry about premature death of their babies. Getting higher education is still costly. Also, they have many things to do other than reproducing. Therefore, they tend not to make many children.

How is the situation in China? There is a considerable discrepancy of wealth among each family in spite of the communism policy. Rich parents can bring up two children, but poor parents will have difficulty. The new policy is possible to raise disparity of wealth much more.

Population effect is like a tidal wave. It is theoretically easy to prospect, but hardly controllable in real. China is unique in this matter. I am doubtful someone can manage the situation with true sustainability.

Self-driving car and Trolly Car problem

Recently, I heard a topic about a popular problem in the context of self-driving cars. It was “Trolly Car problem” that became widely spread after Michael Sandel picked it up in his lecture.

Quora: What is Michael Sandel's answer to the Trolly Car problem?

To be honest, I felt shameful when heard this topic because I had not considered this matter so far. Indeed, I myself also have introduced the situation of this problem. You are a trolly car driver. You notice your trolly is going to hit five people stuck on the rail. You cannot stop the trolly, but can change its course. If you do so, the trolly will hit another person instead of five. What should you do?

In other words, is it acceptable to kill one person for saving other five’ life? It is the concept of this problem.

My past entry: Psychopath and a question of Michael Sandel

It has been revealed by some experiments that most people choose to take one person’s life instead of five. It is a concept of pragmatism. However, in the real situation, we will extremely hesitate to turn the steering wheel. Even if it causes a more disastrous result, nobody will blame him for not killing one person, I guess.

So, how does the self-driving car consider this situation?

At present, the algorithm of the car has not been so sophisticated to make an absolute answer. The car cannot prospect the exact outcome immediately. Additionally, turning a wheel rapidly brings a risk to both the driver and bystanders. The car will put on the brake even if is it not effective.

But in the future, the AI’s estimating ability will be far more precise than human. It is interesting whether the conclusion driven by the absolute intelligence is the same to ours.

In the experiment I referred above, psychopathic persons did not hesitate to make a cold-blooded decision. Being free from emotional conflict is advantageous to find the most beneficial solution to a complicated situation.

An excellent AI may be psychopathic.