Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sequels in January 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Puerto Rico, an excellent classic board game

This classic game is very well designed. I am still not good, but have slightly improved the skills of playing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
A symposium about social support for seriously mentally ill patients

The next day, I listened to an economist's presentation. He claimed that capitalism is meeting its limitation. Partially, I agreed his opinion. But, it was unfortunate that he presented no solution to the current situation. Maybe there is no panacea found about it.

Monday, January 18, 2016
Contaminated cutlets into market in Japan

The company who conducted the resell of cutlets to be disposed is under investigation by the authority. Coco Ichibanya quickly published the comment about this incident, proposing a policy change in disposing foods. It seemed to have gained consumers' trust. Its stock price was raised by 5 %.

On the other hand, there are several suspects about similar cases in the delivery industry.

Saturday, January 16, 2016
Ski bus accident in Japan, 17 dead

The travel company administrating the bus fallen into the valley was breaching several regulations regarding safety management, according to the media. The health status of the drivers at the accident is under investigation. I pray, again, for the victims. And I hesitate to use an intercity bus at night.

Thursday, January 7, 2016
North Korea declared successful hydrogen bomb experiment

The tension surrounding North Korea is rocketing. According to the US authority, North Korea is going to shoot a missile up within some weeks. The UN is considering strengthened sanction against North Korea.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Naked statue covered for Iranian President

Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, visited Italy for the start of his European tour. His purpose of visiting was to tie business relationship with European countries. Then, an issue was focused.


He met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Capitoline Museum in Rome. But, there were several statues of naked women. Muslims do not admire such expressions. Respecting Rouhani’s religious concept, Italy decided to cover these statues with boards during the visit.

CNN: Iran's President visits Italy: Nude statues covered

This decision ignited the discontents of some Roman citizens. They seem to feel traditional Roman culture was compromised for the exchange of political interest.

In the reception dinner, no alcoholic drinks were offered for the same reason. As far as I know, it brought no criticism.

Respecting the preference of the guest is quite rational. In this case, the goal of the convention was to strengthen the mutual relationship between the two countries, not to make Iranians understand Western culture. Therefore, I think the decision of Italy is appropriate. If I were going to invite Obama for a business deal, I would never intend to bring him to Atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima.

However, I wonder why Italian government chose a Museum as the meeting place. For Italians, museums have some special meanings. It is understandable that concealing ancient arts from foreign visitors make Romans feel of disgrace.

On the other hand, it is interesting that issue of statues was seriously treated than alcohol. Roman wines are also honorable for Italian people. But, everyone knows that some people are vulnerable to alcohol. Rejecting alcohol is not an impolite act on some occasions. It is the reason the abstinent party was accepted.

Respecting culture of foreign countries is not easy for us. If Rouhani wants to understand Western culture deeply, he should watch Roman statues. But his goal is merely business interest. In such a case, conflicting factor should be minimized for each country.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Puerto Rico, an excellent classic board game

Recently, I frequently play Puerto Rico at Board Game Arena.

My past entry: Board Game Arena, an excellent online service for board gamers

Puerto Rico was developed by Andreas Seyfarth in 2002. Its theme is colonization of Puerto Rico. In this game, each player has their own farm space. Players cultivate the farm to establish some plantation. Corn, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and coffee can be harvested from the farm. Players can either sell the products to gain money or ship them for victory points. Players can also build several facilities with paying money. Buildings bring you various advantages as well as victory points.

In Puerto Rico, variable phase system is applied. Each player chooses a role. And once a role is chosen, all players orderly take an action in accordance with the chosen role. For example, when player A choose “captain,” all players have to ship their produce as many as possible.

This system makes the game complex. You may want to sell a box of sugar taking the role of “merchant,” but if you do so, another player will sell a box of coffee (for higher income!). In this case, you are wise to choose “captain” to force players to ship all products (all products are equally treated valuable regardless of its price) to prevent others from gaining more money.

In Puerto Rico, you do not roll the dice, not draw cards, either. It means there are almost no randomized elements appeared in this game. Thus, a good player will usually win. But, the interaction between players sometimes causes an unexpected tide of gaming process. It is a fascinating point of this game.

To be honest, I am not good at Puerto Rico. I won only in one-fourth of matches. A bad move leads to critical failure in this game. I need more learning and practice.

Puerto Rico is rather a complex game. It takes one hour on the internet for play. The designer has also developed San Juan, a card game quite similar to Puerto Rico. It is easier to play. Unfortunately, Board Game Arena does not support San Juan.

A symposium about social support for seriously mentally ill patients

Today, I attended a symposium in whose topic was patients with serious mental illnesses.

In Japan, approximately 300,000 people are staying at mental hospital, of which two-thirds are schizophrenic. Some of the inpatients are not so severely ill, but cannot discharge because social resources are poor. On the other hand, not a few patients need to be aided intensively.

The government is willing to define such patients as “judo katsu mansei” [severe and chronic]. Patients who are identified as so expect to be supported more comprehensively.

However, the official plan remains still vague. Some clinicians suspect that the aim of the government is not to help the patients but reduce the budget of mental health.

In the symposium, some researchers presented their opinions and endeavor about this issue. I was inspired by their comments very much. However, I also felt that there are some points to be clarified before doing productive discussion.

Firstly, since the definition of “judo katsu mansei” is under developing, each of speakers imagine different stereotypes of patients, I guess. One speaker said that there are many inpatients who cannot take clozapine in the psychiatric hospital, and he seemed to expect the government to support them with enhanced human resource. But, I think that a half of such patients will get fully recovered with clozapine. In Japan, clozapine has been prescribed to only 4,000 patients. Many psychiatrists have not faced the power of clozapine. We should not deem patients as treatment-resistant unless clozapine is tried. Thus, the issue is how to spread the use of clozapine, not to treat patients without clozapine.

Secondly, some clinicians criticize the government on not dealing with serious patients. According to one speaker, chronically ill patients are hospitalized in a state hospital in the US. It is true, but quite biased. In the US, citizens cannot choose a hospital to stay because national health insurance is poorly provided. Private hospitals handle rich people who can pay the medical cost on their own. In contrast, most private hospitals in Japan adhere the regulation of national health insurance. Patients can choose either the public hospital or a private one with the same cost as a principle. It is meaningless to exemplify the US case for discussing the role of public hospitals in Japan.

Third, I sense that both the speakers and audience underestimated biological factor on the course of mental illnesses. It is inevitable because this symposium was conducted in the Japanese society for social psychiatry. In the future, we will be able to forecast the prognosis of each patient with schizophrenia. The more delayed social setup is, the more difficult the reintegration into the society of the patient. The biological point of view will be essential in combined with social thinking for the treatment of mentally ill patients.

Tomorrow, I will attend some other symposiums. I am willing to learn something valuable.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Does Marijuana make you stupid? Conflicting evidence

Marijuana use at youth is a serious problem in many countries. Since it has strong dependency, many people feel difficult to quit it with all their effort. Some people become psychotic due to its toxic effects. Marijuana use is prohibited in most countries, but there are several black market to deal with it. A large amount of money is circulating in antisocial activists and Marijuana users.

Marijuana is believed as harmful to human body. However, the content and degree of its risk are still unclear. In the past, exposure of Marijuana at the early age was considered to decline your intelligence. However, this idea is challenged by recent studies.

Newser: Study: Pot Doesn't Make Teens Stupid

The relationship between Marijuana use and lowered intelligence has been controversial. Previous studies said that people who had been indulged in Marijuana in their adolescent had poor performance in cognitive function. But, this fact cannot prove the causality that Marijuana does damage to your brain. Another possible explanation is that people being inclined to Marijuana are not smart before adolescent.

The Washington Post: Scientists have found that smoking weed does not make you stupid after all

The present study is a strong antidote against the hypothesis that Marijuana makes you stupid. In this study, identical twins participated in the cohort. Thus, we need not consider the generic factors as influencing the results. Marijuana users had lowered performance in the IQ examination compared to abstinent people. However, there was no significant difference in the IQ between Marijuana using twins and abstinent siblings. These findings should be interpreted as some confounders other than Marijuana are attributable to the difference in the intellectual ability, according to the authors.

PNAS: Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies

This study is well structured, and seems to have high reliability. It is likely that Marijuana itself has no effect on the human intelligence.

However, Marijuana has several problematic features. It gets rid of our motivation. Some people become psychotic, and these symptoms are sometimes irreversible. There is a controversy which is more harmful Marijuana and alcohol. In my opinion, Marijuana is riskier.

In a few countries, the regulation of Marijuana is going to be relaxed. This result is advantageous for whom being willing to legalize Marijuana use. Nonetheless, it should be cautious for us to try this drug, I think.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Clinical trial of painkiller killed volunteer in France

In France, some people died during a clinical trial of a newly drug.

The subject being examined is a cannabis-based painkiller. One person who participated in the trial as a volunteer became the status of brain dead, to be fatal after a while. Five other participants are in a critical condition.

Clinical trials are usually deliberately designed. Before the approval for clinical use, there are three hurdles for the drug to overcome. In Phase 1, healthy volunteers are to take the drug with continuous observation. In Phase 2, patients who require the solution of the candidate drug are subjected. The purpose of this phase is to identify the optimal dose of the drug for clinical benefit. In Phase 3, a larger number of patients are to take part in the trial, to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the drug. A randomized clinical trial is usually conducted. After the all phases are finished, the authority approves the clinical use of the new drug.

These accidents occurred in Phase 1. Thus, the victims were healthy before the trial. It means that the fatality was attributable to the drug itself, not to the participants.

International Business Times: France cannabis drug trial: One volunteer brain-dead and five critical after taking painkiller

All substance has a certain risk for the human body potentially. However, there were only 90 people having taken the drug when the fatal case occurred. The probability of an adverse event was too big to be interpreted as by chance.

The Guardian: French drug trial leaves one brain dead and three facing permanent damage

Of course, this clinical trial had been approved by the authority. However, some researchers are voicing that the design of this trial can be wrong. They claimed that if successive prescription to the next participant had been delayed, as regulated in advance by the protocol, these tragic events would have been prevented, even if the first critical case could not be avoided. Researchers question design of fatal French clinical trial

It is no doubt that adequate interval should be equipped between starting the prescription. On the other hand, Drug companies have no time to spend in drug development due to inter-company competition and restrictive budget. It is required to reconsider the standard of implementing a clinical trial with scientific evidence and feasibility.

I am very sorry for the victims of this trial. I have to recognize that today’s medical science is established on enormous errors and failures.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sex dolls can save pedophilia?

Perhaps, you have not seen any sex dolls, either I haven’t.

Recent dolls are very elaborately created. It looks like a human girl at a glance from distant. You can use it for a certain purpose, as well as simply watching it.

The Times of India: Japanese child sex dolls: Outraged parents react to 'sick' toys aimed at stopping paedophiles committing crimes

The history of sex toys goes back to the ancient era. A human does not have the mating season, but can get sex whenever wanting so. But social regulation in the community interferes us from doing immoral behaviors. It is said that human instinct to manage our sexual drive invented masturbation. Sex toys are often accompanied with such acts.

Now, some people believe that sex dolls have the power to prevent people with pedophilia from committing offenses. They insist that some sex dolls can be used as an alternative to acting out.

It is not surprising that others are opposing. They insist sex dolls can escalate negative desires of people with paraphilia.

Which is correct?

I am not familiar with the treatment of sex offenders. So, I have to hesitate to answer this question. However, the overall impact of this kind of sex toys toward the society will be limited. There are many other stimulation in the world. Pornography, toys, and shops offering sexual services are easily found. And, there is no evidence, as far as I know, about the influence of sex industry on sex crimes.

Some particular persons are cautiously treated. For example, using sex toys for persons with learning disability suffering from aggressive sexual drive may be beneficial, as long as considered the indication deliberately. In contrast, some people with autism can get driven their sexual desires from extraordinary stimulation provided by toys. The response will be various according to the character of each person.

The treatment of sex offender, especially people with pedophilia, is very challenging regardless of the nations. We have to invent something new for improved outcome.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, too respecting E4

I saw the Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Urgent tasks had prevented me from enjoying this film until recently.

I need not explain this film as its great popularity. It is the newest episode of Star Wars saga. Great attention is paid to this work all over the world. So, I can imagine the pressure the creators sensed on making this film.

Partially due to the fear of being criticized, I guess, this film included much respectfulness for the first one, “Episode IV - A New Hope,” or the original Star Wars. To say extremely, it is copying the Episode IV.

The heroine is born on a desert planet. In the beginning, an Astro-mech droid received a secret message from a resistance. This secret is a subject both the Empire (First Order) and the resistance are seriously seeking. The droid was captured by a native, but rescued by the heroine. Finding the droid brings the heroine to a bid adventure.

Do you remember the story-line? Yes, it is Star Wars.

The similarity is not limited to the elements described below. In the middle, Empire’s dreadful weapon destroys the stars of opposing nations. To counter the weapon, resistant makes a plan to intrude into the Empire’s base, to attack the weak point which causes the base critical damage. An old man aids the mission with neutralizing the function of the base. At the same time, the heroine is captured in the base by the villain. The hero makes all the efforts to save her.

It is nothing than Deja vu.

It is well known that the story-line of the second series (Episode I-III) resemble the first series (Episode IV-VI). But this episode is almost mirroring the episode IV. It would have been better I had seen a unique story.

The villain, Kylo Ren, looks fragile, as another point of this film. He betrayed Jedi and Luke Skywalker because of the worship to Darth Vader. But, he was wounded by Chewbacca, Finn, and Rey. His mentality is so vulnerable that he cannot stop hitting things around him when irritated.

In Episode VIII, main characters will appear with a fascinating figure, I hope. Totally, I am thankful to be able to see the consecutive episodes of Star Wars, regardless of this quality.

Personal Rating: 3 (fair)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Vulnerability of nuclear facilities against cyber-attack

The battle against terrorism has been more complicated since 9.11 suicide attack. Different from international wars, the targets of terrorists are not limited to the army and related facilities. Any areas which are deemed as influential are subjected to bomb.

It is easy to imagine that terrorists will try to destroy a nuclear power plant to do damage to the foe. It is unlikely that the plant explodes when ignited, but if it is crippled, serious problems will occur.

As well as physically destructive activity, cyber-attack is also to be expected. Most of the modern machines are connected to the internet, and it means there is a way for terrorists to intrude. We sometimes hear the news of official websites being hacked temporarily.

Recently, Nuclear Threat Initiative examined several countries to check the vulnerability of their nuclear facilities against cyber-attack. As a result, 24 nations were identified as not being protected properly.

International Business Times: Nuclear power plants in 20 countries 'do not have any protection' against cyberattacks

Fortunately, Japan is said to be strong against cyber-attack, as well as the UK. After Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant accidents, relevant professionals were keen to strengthen the ability of damage control.

I hope the countries ranked as vulnerable also equip secret resolutions against cyber-attack. These solutions are usually concealed from outsiders. Otherwise terrorists can break the shield according to the information. In the “Star Wars” series, the Empire is repeatedly defeated by the resistance with its weakness penetrated. The real world is different, I believe.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Alan Rickman as Snape passed away

Alan Rickman, an iconic actor in Britain, died at age 69.

He was famous as Severus Snape in Harry Potter series. His appearance was disguising and mysterious in the film. He was repeatedly misunderstood by Harry. But at last, he won the trust of Harry in exchange for his life.

Time: British Actor Alan Rickman Has Died at 69

He was suffering from pancreatic cancer. This disease is difficult to treat among all kind of cancers. Steve Jobs was also killed by this dread disease.

The Independent: Alan Rickman: British actor died from 'pancreatic cancer'

I remember that he played the role of Richis in “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” In the film, he attempted to save her daughter from the murderer. I loved his play expressing the great worry about his sweetheart with dignity as an aged man.

One great British actor passed away following Christopher Lee. Pray for the rest in the peace of Alan.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cameron wants Muslims to speak English

David Cameron, the Prime Minister in Britain, criticized some Muslim communities in the UK as keeping women discriminating culture. He declared that British people including Muslim should be free from gender inequality.

Furthermore, he mentioned essential English skills for immigrants. He raised the prospect that people failed to pass the examination of English language would be banned from the UK.

International Business Times: Muslim women in the UK 'must integrate and speak English' says David Cameron

This examination will be applied to other non-EU migrants. Even migrant spouses will have to improve their English skills. Otherwise, they will not be able to remain in Britain.

Hindustan Times: New UK English test may hit spouses of Indian migrants

Cameron considers the fact a lot of Muslim women cannot speak English as a cause of their economical inactivity. He will offer an opportunity to learn English using official funds. As expected, however, his statement ignited a criticism.

I think there are two different issues to be discussed. First, a considerable amount of English people cannot understand English. It leads to some troubles in the society potentially. Providing adequate education will be a resolution. But, it does not mean the banning of immigrants who failed to pass the exams. Learning ability is various among persons. What the people with learning difficulty require are more time and another opportunity. Sending any people who failed to their native countries is unrealistic.

On the other hand, the cultural discrepancy is more complicated matter. Each culture should be respected as a principle. But it is understandable that Cameron does not want women in the UK being discriminated. Some legislation will be needed, in my opinion, to guarantee Muslim women to choose their own lives, regardless of their religion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ebola outbreak terminated

This is good news. The World Health Organization declared the termination of Ebola outbreak.

Now, every area having been concerned are deemed free from Ebola virus, and new patients were not reported.

Ebola virus infection causes a high fever and several dysfunction to patients. It is occasionally spread in the tropical region such as Africa. This outbreak had been continued for two years. The victims reached to over 10,000.

In this outbreak, some experimental medicines were used for treatment. It included ethical issues. It is true that several lives were saved with newly drugs. On the other hand, there are possibly unidentified risks in the implementation of new treatment without deliberate consideration.

We should learn something from this long-lasting outbreak. The border control seemed unsuccessful in this case. Swift delivery of the patients and drugs is another challenge. And the improvement of hygiene environment in Africa and some other regions is also required, because it will lead to the decreased risk of multiplication of any pathogenic micro bacteria. And it will contribute to the global safety.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Anti-inflammatory treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an illness which inflicts irreversible damage to the human brain. It is a major cause of dementia. And there are millions of patients suffering from AD.

Several attempts have been conducted to prevent the progression of AD. There are some drugs available for AD patients. However, their effects are far from satisfactory, I think as a clinician.

Recently, some researchers reported that some inflammatory reactions were observed in the brain of AD patients. This fact imagines us that anti-inflammatory drugs can be a remedy for AD. In the UK, it was shown that a protein receptor regulating the activity of the microglia had a crucial role in the progression of AD with an experiment with mice. It is possible that this finding will be a breakthrough for the treatment of AD.

Independent: Alzheimer's: Curbing inflammation in the brain could help combat effects of disease, study finds

However, there have been many failures in this issue. Solanezumab is in a clinical trial, but its perspective is in the mist. Some other traditional drugs were excluded from the option of treatment for dementia.

My past entry: Solanezumab, challenge to Alzheimer's disease

As a joke, NSAIDs has a power of preventing AD, some physicians say. It is no more a joke now, but too serious to be ridiculed. Innovation often occurs from a tiny and silly fact. Nonetheless, careful investigation is needed to prove the clinical usefulness of the drugs for AD.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Contaminated cutlets into market in Japan

Recently, a scandal about the illegal delivery of food was reported in Japan.

Coco Ichibanya is a popular franchise of curry restaurant. There are many Coco Ichibanya restaurants in Japan, as well as in Hawaii. You can eat Japanese-style curry there for relatively low cost.

Coco proposes various additional ingredients upon the basic curry, such as cutlets, sausages, eggs, and vegetables. You can choose some of them to enrich the flavor and calories of your dish. Among them, cutlets are popular.

Coco cooks all ingredients as well as the curry sauce in its specialized factories. Each item is packed with the attention to hygiene issue there, to be delivered to each restaurant.

One day, there occurred a possibility that some cutlets were contaminated in the process of cooking. Coco’s manager ordered to dispose of all the packages suspicious to be polluted.

However, the waist trader having committed the disposal seemed not to adhere to the direction. Coco’s cutlets were arranged at a supermarket for sale, instead of being dropped. A worker at Coco noticed that there was something strange, because Coco’s cutlets were never sold other than at the restaurant. After the investigation, it was found that these cutlets had been misconducted to be sent to the supermarket.

The Japan Times: Consumers bought at least 27,000 cutlets that should have been discarded

It is estimated that 60,000 sets of frozen cutlets were sold to consumers.

It looks a silly misconduct caused by some retailers. If they had noticed that those cutlets had to be disposed (highly likely), they betrayed the trust of both Coco and the sellers which bought the cutlets to resell them to consumers.

However, I think that similar acts easily occur. We sometimes see extremely cheap items. Some of them may be products whose origin is unclear. As a consumer, we should be cautious to deal such low-cost items.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The UK referendum for Brexit

At the beginning of 2016, the issue of Brexit was paid attention again.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK, has promised to carry the referendum out about the withdrawal of the UK from EU until 2017. It will be implemented.

Actually, not many British people want the UK to leave from EU. They benefit from the policy of EU as free movement of people, money, material, and services. At the same time, however, some of them are annoyed by increasing expenditure for social security and welfare of immigrants.

My past entry: British people want to stay in EU now

Cameron is willing to consult with the counterpart in EU for limiting the privilege of immigrants. He hopes to take an initiative in the negotiation.

The Guardian: EU referendum expected in September as hopes fade of deal next month

The result of the referendum will greatly influence to the ruling Tory, and the figure of the UK itself. The ruling Conservative Party seems to want to go through the referendum without chaos. Then, the schedule is decisive. In 2017, Germany and France will also face to the general election. Delaying the referendum to the next year is risky not only for Tory but also other countries. It is realistic that the referendum will be performed in this September.

The market will respond quickly. In the last year, just after Scottish people decided not to be independent of the UK, the price of Pound increased by 5%. For foreign investors, Brexit is no more welcomed.

In my opinion, the UK should not leave from EU at present. The advantage of the UK is the presence in finance and other intangible regions such as education and leadership. To utilize these strength, the status in EU is essential. If the UK abandon EU, it will be difficult to maintain the respect from European countries.

After all, it is most rational for the UK to keep in touch with EU suggesting the Brexit, as well as Greece, ironically.

My past entry: Syriza's agony to the recovery of Greece

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ski bus accident in Japan, 17 dead

A shocking incident. A bus carrying several passengers who were going to enjoy skiing fell into a valley accidentally. According to the media, 17 people were dead, and 27 were injured.

This bus was on the way to a ski resort, moving overnight. The incident happened on the road near Karuizawa, a famous resort town. The bus was burned after slipped out from the highway. The two drivers were killed, as well as 15 passengers. Some of the other victims were seriously injured.

Sydney Morning Herald: Japan ski bus veers off mountain, more than a dozen dead

The passengers were on the packaged bus tour with the overnight ride. Most of the passengers were college students.

The road is composed of many curves, but the surface was not frozen at the tragedy. The police are investigating the cause of the accident.

Recently, the risk of traffic accidents for the bus or truck drivers engaging in overnight or long-time working is often focused in Japan. Transport companies are keen to watch the safety of the drivers. However, many companies are suffering from the shortage of drivers and salary for them. As a result, not a few drivers have to continue driving without adequate rest.

The cause of this accident remains unclear.  Do not believe that the driver committed suicide, because the other driver would have attempted to stop him or her in this case. Then, it is possible the driver took a nap. Anyway, I pray for the victims of this tragedy.

The overnight drive itself is somehow risky. Even if shift-time working is administered properly, it can damage the workers’ health. If self-driving car technology is introduced, the risk will be reduced. It should be considered to request to equip automatic braking systems on such vehicles, at present.

My past entry: Shift time working brings you cancer

Friday, January 15, 2016

DietSensor change your diet style?

DietSensor is going to be released.

When you want to lose weight, calorie calculation is necessary. It is an annoying task because you have to know all component you take. Some restaurants show the ingredient of each menu. But others provide no information about the nutrition the food contains. In such cases, you have to guess how many calories you are going to take.

Fortunately, there are many applications which aid the calorie calculation. However, they demand you to input the contents you take exactly. You sometimes feel difficult in express the figure you take. Is a naan similar to bread, or a donut?

DietSensor enables you to calculate any foods in front of you at a moment. The device equips a molecular sensor which can analyze the ingredient of the food near to the device. The data are sent to a smartphone with Bluetooth technology. You can see the information of the food via your smartphone.

TechCrunch: DietSensor Scans Your Food For Calories Dietsensor claims to tell you what's really in your food

Unfortunately, DietSensor can analyze only the foods whose density is uniform. Beef stew seems not to be suitable.

I am interested in this device. It will cost 250 USD now.

I think that combined use with a webcam will improve the quality of food analyzing. Google image search has good accuracy enough to identify the item. It is not difficult to estimate the name and weight of the food in the photo. Ingredient analysis will make a great synergistic effect with graphical analysis.

In the near future, similar functions will be equipped in a smartphone. And then, you can know the exact information about the food at a glance with looking through the smartphone.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Board Game Arena, an excellent online service for board gamers

Recently, I entered Board Game Arena (BGA), which is an online service providing multiplayer board games.

With an internet browser, you can take part in “6 nimmt!”, “Seasons”, and many other board games and card games without cost. Your opponents are human players elsewhere. BGA is available in several countries, so you can play some games with foreigners.

BGA is popular for board game lovers, but I have not tried it so far. In Japan, “Seasons” seems to be famous. I found some Japanese websites instructing the rule of this deckbuilding game.

BGA is international. Some volunteers have translated the rules and component explanation into Japanese, so I will have no stress in playing a newly learned game.

You can choose two options: “Real-time game” and “Turn-based game.” The former is a game style in which all players have to be accompanied together during the whole game. Its playability is like as an offline game. In the latter style, you can input your action in play as you like. You need not keep an eye on the browser. However, you have to wait for other players’ reaction occasionally. This style is suitable for players who are busy, need an extended thinking time, or want to play with others living in a region with a time difference.

I tried a few games, to find it is very fun. As well as playing games, I am willing to participate in translating some materials in games into Japanese, some day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Harm of alcohol is discussed again

Any amount of alcohol consumption carries some risk for your health, according to new findings.

International Business Times: There is no 'safe' limit for alcohol consumption, medical chiefs warn

Previously, a small amount of alcohol was believed to bring your health rather than harm, as I mentioned just recently. A British guideline recommended you to limit alcohol consumption to 21 units per week for men. But, the new guideline has lowered the limit to 14 units as same as women. It corresponds to one standard glass of wine per day.

My past entry: The complex harm of alcohol

Alcohol taking raises the risk of cancer, not only in the liver but also other organs. It is a well-known fact. However, there are many other carcinogenic foods. Processed meat was focused as one of the hazardous foods very recently. We cannot be cautious enough to protect our health as far as seeking absolute safety.

My past entry: Sausages cause cancer, probably

Many foods include potentially harmful materials. For example, tuna is loved by many Japanese, including me. Surprisingly, tuna contains the most amount of mercury among foods. You can easily imagine that excessive taking of mercury causes a toxic reaction. But, there are few people concerning this issue.

Since alcohol causes dependency, it should be cautiously treated than other foods. Nonetheless, it is unsure that complete abstinence is desired for your health. Limiting to 14 units per week seems reasonable standard for many people.

Rather, my concern is that many people is leaving from alcohol consumption. Modern society is covered with entertainment other than drinking. Poor people are likely to take alcohol as stress-reliever. It is not only an issue of health science but also the matter of economy and welfare.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Military section composed of autistic patients in Israel

In Israel, some patients with autistic disorders are deemed as useful in the military section.

The Visual Intelligence Division, or Unit 9900, has a role of examining the visual record of satellites continuously. Members of this division are required to be keen to detect an abnormality in the geographical image, as well as the considerable degree of patience. Some autistic persons are serious in participating in this work.

In Israel, temporal belonging to the military is compulsory, but some citizens are exempted for several reasons, such as physical or mental disability. In 2008, Israeli government ended the practice of excluding citizens with autistic disorders from the army. Instead, they are accepted in some divisions based on their attributes. As a result, Unit 9900 was born as whose constituents included dozens of persons with autistic disorders.

The Atlantic: The Israeli Army Unit That Recruits Teens With Autism

This attempt of Israel has enabled potentially many autistic patients to utilize their specific ability in the society. Respect each person’s characteristics is a basis of modern society. From this point of view, it is appropriate. However, make autistic people engage in the military can be somehow problematic.

First, many autistic patients are also suffering from intellectual disability. Those who are not capable to make decisions should be protected. Without strict regulation and supervision, exploitation from challenged easily happens. Precise assessment of capacity and proper process of agreement to the engagement have to be ensured.

Second, many autistic patients have a difficulty in empathizing others. This tendency is similar to psychopaths’ attribute. Too much sympathetic persons are not suitable for the army. By contrast, psychopathic individuals are sometimes successful in the wartime. How about autistic people? It is a sensitive issue. If they are successful in the army, they may be going to suffer after retirement, if adequately qualified education was omitted.

It is desirable that many autistic people will get a place in which they are well appreciated. It is not sure that, however, it is good for many autistic people to choose to be a soldier.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cheating contract in college students in the UK

It has been revealed that thousands of the UK university students use contract cheating for a better assignment.

There may be many ghost writers who are willing to create an essay for low cost based on the request of students. Online contact made it easy for the students to seek such services. According to the media, India is one of the main countries providing assignment writers.

International Business Times: Essays for sale: Indian contract cheaters help thousands of UK university students to con the system

In my opinion, India is overrepresented as the source of ghost writers. Ghostwriting is not illegal, mentioned in the article as well. India has a large number of people who have good English skills. But there are not many enough domestic jobs to utilize their skills. Then, high-educated Indian people are to engage some kind of English writing jobs, because they can be accomplished on the internet. It is not appropriate to blame Indian ghostwriters. Other countries such as Brazil and Philippine will be listed up in the near future.

In the UK, nearly 50,000 university students have been caught cheating in the last three years. They are urged to get a better mark for higher rewarded job in the future. Since the assignment in the university is directly or indirectly connected to the job rank they will get, they are serious in the college task. As a result, not a few students choose to fabricate their assignment.

By contrast, In Japan, I have not seen any results of a survey about cheating in the university. But I guess fewer students is misconducting. Many Japanese are honest, often obsessive. Some student cheat, but they are not interested in the mark. All that they are concerned is to graduate the college because the content of the assignment has no power to get a better job in Japan.

Above all, assessment of students using home examination such as essays cannot evaluate their skills precisely. Another method of examination is demanded, as I mentioned previously.

My past entry: Examination

Sunday, January 10, 2016

When will tablets replace PCs?

It is no doubt that tablets have changed our life entirely. It is not only regarding private life, but also in business. Some people can work using a tablet or a smartphone outside as if they are sitting in front of a laptop. Remember that “nomad working” meant writing an article with a laptop in a café instead of in the office only some years ago. Now, there are fewer businesspersons opening a laptop in a café.

Then, will laptops, as well as desktop PCs be expelled soon from the workplace?

ITProPortal: Is it time for laptops to shut down?

There is broad discussion regarding this issue. In my opinion, a few disadvantages in tablets make it difficult to replace laptops. And I expect it will take some more years for tablets to substitute laptop entirely.

First, tablets equip no keyboards. At present, most people can type letters more quickly with a keyboard than the touch pad. Although modern virtual keyboards have been developed as a good interface, they do not match mechanical ones. To begin with, current disposition in the keyboard was arranged not to be typed so quickly because traditional typewriters could not adapt fast typing. Nonetheless, we dare not to change this strange disposition. Thus, our sense of manufacturing is quite conservative. I do not think a new method of typing will be spread shortly. Maybe voice dictating will be dominant in the future.

Second, tablets cannot take a role of the hub of devices. We copy the data from a PC to a USB memory stick, or vice versa. PC is the mother-ship of a person’s electric devices. Most tablets sacrifice versatility and storage volume for its portability. This relative inferiority to PC will be never overcome. Later, we will place all of the data we have on a cloud storage, and hard disk drives will be possessed only by professional server providers, perhaps. But at present, it is not realistic.

Third, tablets have a difficulty to be used for multiple tasks. It is not attributed to their CPU performance, but the limited side of the display. You can choose a display with a desktop PC as large as possible if you want. Stock trading, video editing, writing an academic article, and many other tasks need a large sized display. Portable tablets have to be connected with a fixed display when we carry on this kind of task. And then, it is simpler to use a desktop PC in such case.

To sum up, I estimate PCs will survive at least for some more years. In the future, of course, we will encounter innovative technology that we cannot imagine now.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Reduced working time in Sweden

In Sweden, a six-hour working day policy is to be introduced. Some companies including Toyota centers in Gothenburg, have already adopted this change. It made the staffs happier, and brought lowered turnover rate, according to the media.

Independent: Sweden introduces six-hour work day

In this article above, it is not sure whether six-hour working is going to be obligated by the law. But many employers seem to have recognized the advantage of shorter work time. In addition, shorter work time will lead to the spread of shared work, which can contribute to reducing the unemployment rate.

This attempt is not an innovation. Kellogg introduced the reduced and shifted working time previously. Unfortunately, it was not so successfully done.

My past entry: Working from noon to 6 o’clock

In my feeling, eight-hour work is tough in some jobs. Concentration cannot be maintained for a long time. Some people feel tired after long-hour work, even if just after taking a short break. Being busy for a long time gets rid of creative sense.

However, there are some points to be considered regarding this issue. First, it is difficult for some skilled works to be shared with other people. Medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, and school teachers are licensed jobs. Thus, alternative workers are hardly found. Furthermore, if your physician in charge disappears at 15 o’clock during a conversation with you and another one come up as night shift, you will be annoyed, aren’t you? In Sweden, six-hour work has been introduced in some hospitals, actually. I wonder how they can keep the quality of the work with decreased expert staffs.

Second, as a result of shorter work, service responsiveness will be sacrificed, more or less. Customers should be patient when they cannot get the contact with a service provider at twilight. I think many Japanese cannot accept this inconvenience because Japanese customers are the most demanding of the world.

Third, it is unrealistic to reduce the work time in some jobs. Creators, consultants, and stock traders take no rest regardless of the time. If there is a need, or business chance, they are willing to work. It means that other workers in the similar sector will lose the opportunity to gain profit if they do not commit overwork. It is difficult to regulate the excessive working legally. As a result, the situation will never change.

In conclusion, reduced work time policy will be effective for a better quality of life of the employees, and partially improve the productivity. But this efficacy will be limited to some kind of jobs.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hawaii for the first time

I stayed in Hawaii at the new year's eve. It was a wonderful experience.

Many hotels equip a shopping mall in front of them.

Hawaii is very popular for Japanese as a destination of a journey. I understood that there were some reasons.

First, we can contact with Japanese culture easily. Many Hawaiians can speak Japanese, and there are lots of Japanese signboards in Hawaii. We need not worry about communication. In supermarkets, we can get Japanese rice balls.

Second, Hawaii is relatively safe. In addition, Hawaiians are very kind. I was taught the way sometimes in Hawaii by local people.

Third, the ocean and the sun are charming. The sea was actually bright. Okinawa was also beautiful, but Hawaiian water is blue rather than emerald-green.

Fourth, Hawaiian climate is very comfortable. In summer, we have to endure annoying moisture in Japan. Instead, it is relatively dry in Hawaii. Albeit it is very hot, I never felt unease.

I visited Polynesian culture center. It looked like a big theme park. I learned many things about Native folks around the Pacific Ocean.

I climbed up to a hill near to Waikiki. I could see a pretty lighthouse over there.

Hawaii and Japan shared a sad history that Japanese air force bombed the Pearl harbor at the beginning of the WWII. It is suggestive that Hawaii is one of the most favorite places for Japanese people now. It is important to maintain the mutual relationship forever.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

North Korea declared successful hydrogen bomb experiment

North Korea declared that it had conducted an experiment of a hydrogen bomb successfully. This report led to enhanced tension about international security.

BBC: North Korea nuclear: State claims first hydrogen bomb test

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, is so proud of the successful test of the hydrogen bomb, which is a hundred times mightier than an atomic bomb. North Korea stated not to use H-bomb as far as it is not invaded.

CNN: North Korea announces it conducted nuclear test

North Korea’s comment ignited a broad criticism of not only Western countries but also China, not to be surprised. There is no announcement about the test in advance. Concerning nations are eager to confirm the fact regarding North Korea’s declaration. In China, a tremor occurred to create a small chasm on a school ground. Thus, it is sure some tremendous energy was unleashed. However, there is no evidence that nuclear fusion was inflicted in North Korea. No abnormal density of radioactivity was detected around there.

The Guardian: North Korea nuclear H-bomb test claims provoke scepticism and condemnation – as it happened

It is difficult to find the evidence of the experiment of a hydrogen bomb. Lack of the evidence does not suggest that North Korea is telling a lie. However, many experts are skeptical of the commitment of North Korea.

Business Insider: Many experts are already skeptical of North Korea's claims of a successful hydrogen-bomb test

If the test was successful, it is beneficial for Western countries not to believe the success. It is unlikely that North Korea will use the hydrogen bomb shortly even if it has already been prepared. North Korea has to make counterparts believe the success to gain a stronger position in international negotiation.

On the other hand, Western countries, especially the US, is suffering from the lack of tools to handle North Korea. The US has no additional power to beat North Korea down because of the complicated situation in the Middle East. North Korea seems to know the status. The declaration of H-bomb experiment at present has an influence on Western countries so that they have to focus on North Korea again.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran

The situation in the Middle East remains unstable. An additional tension has occurred between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia executed 47 people for terrorism offences on January 2nd, 2016. One of the executed was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was a high cleric of Shia. He played an important role in the protest against Saudi Arabian government. His statement supporting the demonstration by Shia pupils contributed to the spread of anti-dictatorship. But he was arrested by the government in 2012 for agitating citizens.

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people in one day – including prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

Iran’s Shia leaders previously warned that execution of al-Nimr would lead to a terrible result for Saudi Arabia. And the caution has been realized, unfortunately.

Saudi Arabian embassy in Iran was attacked by protesters who condemned the execution of al-Nimr. The turmoil was so violent that some people set fire on the embassy.

Even though not supporting this brutal act, Iranian Supreme leader made a provoking comment against Saudi Arabia that it would face divine vengeance.

Independent: Iranian Supreme Leader vows ‘divine vengeance’ on Saudi Arabian politicians after execution of Nimr al-Nimr

The reaction of Saudi Arabia was also aggressive. It broke off ties with Iran. It cancelled all flights between the two nations.

BBC NEWS: Saudi Arabia breaks off ties with Iran after al-Nimr execution

Other countries are to determine which nation they support. The decision is deeply connected to their religious stance. For example, Assad administration in Syria is based on Shia. Saudi Arabia is aiding anti-Establishment group whose members are Sunni.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Saudi Arabia-Iran dispute: where countries stand

This conflict will influence negatively on the oil price. Last year, the oil price was suppressed because oil providing countries failed to be collaborative for stabilizing the price. If Saudi Arabia does not limit the exploitation, the oil will be excessively produced, leading to the further crash of the oil price.

CNBC: Saudi Arabia-Iran conflict will crush oil prices further

I think that Saudi Arabian government has expected this situation before carrying out the execution. But I hardly understand its intention exactly. Their conflict will benefit IS and other rebellious organizations. It will result in severe damage on both Saudi Arabia and Iran, I am afraid.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Naritasan and kazoe-doshi

I am in my 42nd year. It is said in Japan that I am 42-year-old in “kazoe-doshi,” the same way that you count the ages of houses in the West.

And, 42nd in kazoe-doshi is called as “yaku-doshi” (unlucky year) in men. It means that you may encounter some troubles especially in your health. Although it is unsure this age is so risky in health science, many Japanese feel somehow nervous about this year.

Therefore, I visited Naritasan, which is a famous Buddhist temple "Shinsho-ji" located in Chiba prefecture, to pray for my luck.

Naritasan was very crowded. It was fortunate that it was not so cold that day.

I listened to the sermon of a Buddhist priest. He said that you should be thankful for everything.

I get made a talisman there in which my name was inscribed. This talisman is considered to be a decoy of me, drawing troubles around me. Many people visit shrine or temple during their yaku-doshi, called “Yaku-otoshi” (dropping misfortune).

After returning home, I placed the talisman in my study. I hope I would never meet any trouble this year. Of course, I do not believe any superstitions. It is my responsibility to deal with matters against me.

By the way, I think kazoe-doshi is rational in counting others’ age. You need not know the exact birthday of the person you want to count the age of whom in this way. Instead, you should know only the year the person was born.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rulebook about the policy of raping female captives by IS

The US military disclosed documents about the rule in IS how to deal with sex slaves.

The rules seem to be considered as a fatwa of IS. However, the contents of the document are contradictive as well as uncivilized.

International Business Times: 442Isis sex slave manual reveals Daesh's sordid rules on how to rape female captives4813046

If this report is true, it suggests not only the mercilessness of IS but also childishness. Some articles in the fatwa seems absurd, apart from these unethical sense. Although there are many ideologies in the world, approval of sex slaves should never be allowed, at least in my opinion.

Sex slavery itself is not an ancient habit. In Japan at the time of the WWII, several Korean women were considered to be engaged in sexual services for Japanese military as “comfort women,” though there is controversy about the degree of coerciveness on it. In other countries similar schemes were likely to exist.

However, in the 21st century, the activity of IS is far from understandable. Not to abuse captives even in the war is a common law of the modern world. It was established before the WWII, though often has been ignored.

Gender equality is one of the modern ideology. I am not sure how this rule is reasonable. But if I violate this idea, I would never be able to make a complaint when I am abused.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Land swap between Belgium and Netherlands

Recently, I referred an idea of giving land to the neighbor country. It was merely a fantasy. But, there is a real land swap into implementation.

My past entry: Norway gives Halti to Finland?

Belgium and Netherlands agreed on a friendly swap of land. It will be finalized in 2016.

Euronews: New year, new border for Belgium and the Netherlands

The peninsula subjected to the land swap is known as troublesome because illegal drug dealing is popular there. Belgian authorities have to use a boat to enter the peninsula although it is connected to Belgium directly. It has made difficult for Belgium to take control of this place. Therefore, the rearrangement of the border is beneficial for the both countries.

QZ: “It makes sense”—Belgium and the Netherlands engage in a friendly border land swap

The approval of parliaments of the both countries is needed to authorize this deal. It seems feasible considering the collaborative relationship of those states.

Independent: Belgium and Netherlands agree to swap land – almost 200 years after borders were drawn up

Belgium and Netherlands have more complicated issues regarding the border. Baarle-Nassau is a town placed in the mosaic of the both countries. Some negotiations were done previously, but it have failed to resolve this issue.

Border control is a critical issue for countries whose land is connected to others. Nowadays, many nations are concerned about the worry of illegal immigrants. I hope the land changing will be successful.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Mr. Holmes, the sorrow and meaning of aging

I watched “Mr. Holmes” in the airplane, recently. It is a movie describing the later life of Sherlock Holmes. Ian McKellen played the role of Holmes at the age of 93. McKellen is an actor who played Magneto in the X-Men series, and I like him very much. So, I expected him to have a good job in the movie. Actually, he was excellent.

In this film, Holmes is in a small village as a beekeeper. He gave up the job of consultant detective several years ago because of a reason that he has forgotten. He has still remarkable abilities of observation and analysis, but is suffering from a memory lapse.

He tried to remember the last case he was engaged. It happened soon after Dr. John Watson left him. Watson published the story of the case, but it was seriously amended from the real incident. Therefore, Holmes attempted to write the truth on his own, but it is impossible since his memory is imperfect.

Holmes teach a boy who is the son of Holmes’ maid. The boy is interested in the work of beekeeping. But his mother is going to leave the current work, to bring him to another town.

“Mr. Holmes” is originated from a novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” written by Mitch Cullin. I have not read this book, but there seem critical differences between the original novel and the file, as far as reading the headline of the novel.

The theme of this work is aging. In this film, Holmes seriously regret one of his previous decisions, which had been done by him with 100% of confidence. He is logical, rational, and perfect at telling the truth. He hates lies, disguising, and tricking. But, he notices there are more important things than what he has set the value.

In the last of this film, Holmes says goodbye to his past ideology, and he is going to amend his lifestyle. It is extremely difficult for elderlies, especially great people such as Holmes, to change something in their conviction, in my opinion.

This story told me that there are pitfalls even in an influential person, as well as the importance of changing my own thought when required.

By the way, I watched this film with Japanese subtitles and dubbing. So, I missed Ian McKellen’s voice on the film. Also, there were some mistakes in translation I found. Therefore, I decided to buy the BD in the English version, to enjoy this work deeply.

Personal Rating: 4 (good)

Friday, January 1, 2016

My goal in 2016: accept and stare

As I mentioned, I set a goal, or a behavioral principle, at the beginning of each year.

2009: Responsible
2010: Deepen, widen, and take care of myself
2011: Carry out
2012: Do well
2013: Take risks
2014: Do immediately and every day
2015: Forecasting 

My past entry: My goal of this year
My past entry: My goal in 2014
My past entry: My goal in 2015: Forecasting

The last year, I attempted to forecast the result every time before moving. It made me a little deliberate.

This year, my goal is "accepting and staring."

Sometimes, the real situation is difficult to accept. A tragic accident occurs all at sudden. In this case, I dare to accept the situation, without blaming anyone or despairing of myself. Instead, I will stare at the reality. Something will happens on me, whether it is welcomed or not. I will taste it.

Life is tough. And it is why life is wonderful.