Japan’s young men seek a new path

Posted on November 7, 2010  Leave a Comment

Japan’s young men seek a new path

Japan's young men seek a new path

Something is happening to Japan’s young men. Compared with the generation that came before, they are less optimistic, less ambitious and less willing to take risks. They are less likely to own a car, want a car, or drive fast if they get a car. They are less likely to pursue sex on the first date – or the third. They are, in general, less likely to spend money. They are more likely to spend money on cosmetics.

Japan’s young men mystify their girlfriends and their bosses. They confound the advertisers who aim products at them. They’ve been scrutinized and categorized by social commentators, marketing consultants and the government. And they unnerve just about everybody who makes long-term projections about Japan’s flagging birthrate and fading economy. Japan will grow or falter, economists and sociologists say, upon the shoulders of these mild, frugal, sweet-mannered men.

To hear the analysts who study them tell it, Japanese men ages 20 to 34 are staging the most curious of rebellions, rejecting the 70-hour workweeks and purchase-for-status ethos that typified the 1980s economic boom. As the latest class of college graduates struggles to find jobs, a growing number of experts are detecting a problem even broader than unemployment: They see a generation of men who don’t know what they want.

Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics

Posted on November 6, 2010  Leave a Comment

Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics

1. Newspaper comics are dead. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s impossible to get around the fact that no one under a certain age—and that age gets higher all the time—considers newspapers essential daily reading. The strip format will survive online, and maybe in other print media (four-panel comics are currently very popular in Japan, where they typically run in weekly magazines in chunks of six strips at a time), but the classic syndicated newspaper strip has been dying for a long time and I see little hope for resuscitation. Enjoy Richard Thompson’s glorious Cul de Sac, because it’s probably the last great comic strip.

4. The audience is infinitely fragmented. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of teenage comics fans don’t read manga. Or they used to read manga, but they’ve long since moved on to something else. There’s almost nothing that everybody reads. I’ve talked to kids for whom Scott Pilgrim is the modern equivalent of Watchmen—a seminal reshaping of the pop-cult universe they inhabit—and kids who have never heard of it, kids who only read shonen manga and kids who only read shojo manga, kids who are only interested in goth comics or zombie comics or Fables. Open the discussion to webcomics, and the audience fragments all the way down to the tip of the long tail; on the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people.

The Japanese define taste again

Posted on November 5, 2010  Leave a Comment

The Japanese define taste again

The Japanese define taste again

Now that umami, the indescribable flavor associated with yumminess in foods like soy sauce and cheese, has been declared the fifth taste, chefs are moving on to kokumi, a taste that is often described as richness or “mothfulness.”

Kokumi is a non-tasting food or flavoring that, when combined with other foods, enhances “sweet, salty, and umami tastes” according to Japanese researchers at Ajinomoto, a Japanese seasonings and food product company, that published their findings in the November 2009 and January 2010 editions of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Russian bears treat graveyards as giant refrigerators

Posted on November 4, 2010  Leave a Comment

Russian bears treat graveyards as ‘giant refrigerators’

Russian bears treat graveyards as giant refrigerators

From a distance it resembled a rather large man in a fur coat, leaning tenderly over the grave of a loved one. But when the two women in the Russian village of Vezhnya Tchova came closer they realised there was a bear in the cemetery eating a body.

Russian bears have grown so desperate after a scorching summer they have started digging up and eating corpses in municipal cemetries, alarmed officials said today. Bears’ traditional food – mushrooms, berries and the odd frog – has disappeared, they added.

The Vezhnya Tchova incident took place on Saturday in the northern republic of Komi, near the Arctic Circle. The shocked women cried in panic, frightening the bear back into the woods, before they discovered a ghoulish scene with the clothes of the bear’s already-dead victim chucked over adjacent tombstones, the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomelets reported.

The trouble with sex

Posted on November 2, 2010  Leave a Comment

The trouble with sex

The trouble with sex

One major cause of misunderstanding between men and women is the awkward fact that sexual intercourse, which we imagine will bring us closer together, is poorly designed to give pleasure to both parties. Jeremy Laurance goes back to physiological basics

If we were designing men and women to deliver maximum sexual satisfaction to one another, we would not start from here. The reason, as Shere Hite noted, has to do with the position of a tiny, but neglected organ – the clitoris.

Conventional sexual intercourse, in which the penis is inserted into the vagina, may be an efficient method of reproduction but is doomed to failure when it comes to maximising sexual pleasure – at least for the woman.

Maldives police to probe foul-mouthed wedding ceremony

Posted on November 1, 2010  Leave a Comment

Maldives police to probe foul-mouthed wedding ceremony

Police in the Maldives are to launch an investigation after a foreign couple who thought they were renewing marriage vows were in fact being subjected to a torrent of abuse.

A video has emerged of the unidentified Western couple taking part in the ceremony at the Vilu Reef resort.

Instead of words of blessing, the celebrant calls the couple “swine” and “infidels” in the local language.

Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny

Posted on October 31, 2010  Leave a Comment

Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny

Here’s how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private corporations can join, too. The tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and drug-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the members. They pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.

With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write “model bills” with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.

ALEC’s Bowman says that is not unusual; more than 200 of the organization’s model bills became actual laws over the past year. But he hedges when asked if that means the unofficial drafting process is an effective way to accelerate the legislative process.

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