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Comment Re:It's in San Diego (Score 1) 362

I skipped two grades back in elementary school. Endured a decade of being the youngest and smallest in every class and was assured by elders that it would all be worth it some day.

Now, if I write my college graduation year on a resume, I'm thought of as being two years older than I am, unless I find some way to write my actual birthdate without it being conspicuous. And even that would be like a kind of hidden attempt at bragging; inviting people to ask why I graduated so young.

If there's a silver lining in this cloud, it's that I get to feel what it's like to be 40 when I'm only 38.

Comment Re:Minestone (Score 3, Informative) 178

Car keys?

People who live in big cities where apartments of 344 square feet are normal don't waste massive amounts of space on parking for cars -- there will be stores within walking distance, and they probably take the subway to work.

If the guy lives by himself, 344 ft^2 really isn't small at all. My wife and I share just under 38 m^2 (408 ft^2) and, while not spacious, our apartment certainly isn't tiny. We have a kitchen, living room, and bedroom, plus a bathroom, and a balcony on which to hang the laundry. This is in Tokyo, where density is about the same as Hong Kong.

When we have a kid, then we'll start to feel cramped. But there are other people in our building raising kids in rooms the size of ours!

Comment Re:Perfectly reasonable but is it necessary? (Score 1) 932

The only 'tax' non-fossil fuel vehicles should pay is a nominal road maintenance fee - where I come from it's already included in our property taxes.

If that's the case, then any property owner who doesn't own a car, or has some physical disability that prevents them from driving one, is getting shafted.

If the wear on the roads is porportional to the fourth power of the weight of the person/vehicle, that means that a 70-kg person puts (forgive the scientific notation) 2.4e6 kg^3 of burden on a road compared to 1.6e13 kg^3 for a two-ton SUV.

No one without a car should have to pay road maintenance fees in any form -- the burden they put on the roads is literally less than a millionth that of a motor vehicle!

It's not clear form your post if you have a non-fossil-fuel vehicle or if you have no motor vehicle, but if you don't have a motor vehicle, you should protest your city for making you subsidize vehicles through your property tax. The amount may be small, but that doesn't make it just.

Comment Re:Phoneme counts (Score 1) 318

Some, but not all, German speakers have changed the [r] sound into an uvular one, as has most of France.

I learned my German as textbook Hochdeutsch, with trilled [r], and without "ch" merging with "sch", and the first time I met a speaker who changed those two things, saying recht as if it were something like ghescht, I could barely understand him! But that doesn't mean that it's not a legitimate variety of German. That's how language variation gets started.

Why Germans get so much guff for the supposedly-throat-clearingly-unpleasant sound of their "ch" whereas French people's "r" goes unnoticed is a great injustice. The French must have better PR.

Comment Re:Voting is a waste of effort (Score 1) 307

I want public transit to die. I don't use it, and all they do is say that they need more money, every year, right after they've been given 1.1 billion dollars. So I'd scrap it. Let people learn to work closer to where they live, and learn to live closer to where they work.

Living near where you work is admirable, but plenty of those newfangled office "parks" built near highways literally have no residences within walking distance of them.

You might want public transit to die because you choose not to use it. But we visually impaired people are not allowed to drive automobiles. Any employer with no public transportation or residential districts within walking distance is a place where we can never work.

And the billions spent on public transportation (which, again, you choose not to use) are dwarfed by the billions spent on maintaining highways and other automobile-related infrastructure (which your non-driving counterparts are forbidden from using). We could stop funding both -- but something tells me you wouldn't enjoy all those potholes.

I'm supposed to pay $0.05 per plastic bag at the grocery store -- the dumbest law in the world. So instead, I tell them I've brought my own -- and I steal them from the next cash register that's closed.

Forgive the bluntness (and the fact that we're straying far afield from copyright laws), but based on the above two attitudes, I'm glad I don't do business with you.

Comment Re:Japan Does Have a National Power Grid (Score 4, Informative) 322

They do, but they don't have the capacity to convert the amounts of power that the Kanto side suddenly needs. It's unfortunate that they didn't invest in more conversion capacity before this disaster, but then again, it probably would have been viewed as a waste of money, as few people could have imagined a power shortage of this scale before.

A few years ago the government began urging offices to keep their indoor temperatures at 28 degrees C (82 F) to save energy; there are doubts as to its efficacy as the increased sweat and lethargy bring greater water usage (more laundry) and lowered productivity.

I despised this program but could certainly endure it this year when there are so many people suffering from a lot more than an overheated working environment, but the silver lining is that when power capacity does finally get back up -- the Fukushima reactors were nearing end-of-life and new ones were already scheduled for 2013 -- regular folks might be able to work in air-conditioned offices again. After what we've been through, it sure will feel like a luxury.

Comment Re:We appreciate your support! (Score 1) 265

<p><i>Japan is as rich as the USA, <b>has vastly greater savings</b>, astronomical foreign trade surpluses, etc. I'm saying this not to castigate but to support my argument.</i>

<p>I recognize the fact that Japan is one of the rich nations of the world. But using "greater savings" as support from your argument doesn't make sense to me. Japanese people are somehow less deserving of aid because they diligently save money? If they were irresponsible spendthrifts who emptied their bank accounts as soon as the money came in every month, and buried themselves in debt, they'd be somehow more deserving of help?

<p>Yes, the leadership is imperfect. But the people shouldn't be denied assistance because they were competent at managing their lives before the disaster.

Comment Re:We appreciate your support! (Score 1) 265

AC, I'm trying to start one right now as those workers are literally giving their lives to keep the rest of us safe. US and Canadian news outlets, who carried some good stories about the "Fukushima 50" and their brave efforts, are geared toward publicizing existing charities and not toward starting up new ones; they weren't much help when I called. I'm going to call Okuma City Hall and Fukushima Prefectural Hall and see if they can get something going. If that happens, I'll pass on the info so that donations can get directly to the plant workers. Remember those firemen who came down with all kinds of health problems after goinginto the World Trade Center in 2001? These plant workers will have it even worse. The least we could do for them is to help make their remaining years easier.

Comment Re:A question to the Japanese (Score 2) 265

Jez, this plant was in fact nearing the end of its life, and had been designed to withstand a quake almost as big as this one. Its retirement, and the introduction of a newer and safer plant, was already on the schedule when the quake came.

TEPCO has told many lies to the public over the years, but the long-term planning of nuclear power and even this plant in particular isn't something that can be faulted. It's not even that close to Tokyo, despite the "Tokyo Electric Power" name -- roughly the same distance separates Fukushima and Tokyo as does Three Mile Island and New York (260 km / 160 mi).

I do want to see heads roll over this, though. They lied during the Tokaimura incident a decade ago and have been obfuscating things all through this incident.

Comment Re:Panic (Score 4, Informative) 265

tlhIngan, in central Tokyo (for what that's worth), everything is still open, but hoarding is getting ridiculous and essentials are becoming harder to find. Milk, rice, bread products of all kinds, and noodle products of all kinds are scarce. Unhealthy cup ramen, a staple "emergency" food, is completely unobtainable. Fresh fruit and vegetables are more easily obtained than dried noodles!

Nerves are fraying more at the train stations, where lines to get on are stretching out the station and down the block. Some places are getting one train every half hour where they normally have a train coming every 2-3 minutes. There were stories on the news of knife fights as people tried to cut in line at gas stations.

I'm very thankful that Japan isn't as automobile-centric as the US is. Four of the five supermarkets withint walking distance of me have no parking, so we're all on an even footing when it comes to carrying our goods out of the store. In a car-oriented society (and rural Japan is one, somewhat), people would be loading up their monster SUVs with many times their own weight in food, and there would be nothing left for anyone who's limited to a few dozen pounds of goods.

Living through this situation makes me fully understand that visual impairment -- enough to prevent you from driving, anyway -- is, in the US, a handicap just as debilitating as more-recognized ones. If any of you readers work at your town or city halls, make "getting food and transportation available to people without cars" a main pillar of your disaster plan. It's not these people's fault that American society was built around something they have no access to.

Comment Re:We appreciate your support! (Score 5, Insightful) 265

You know what, DNS-and-BIND, I retract my recommendation to come over and help people in your case. Your attitude isn't needed here and wouldn't be appreciated by anyone.

We will continue to help each other through the situation, whether it's the minor annoyance of not having enough food in Tokyo thanks to panic buyers, not being able to get to work because trains aren't running, not having power, or the serious crisis of not having a home to go back to up in Miyagi and Iwate. Or even the annoyance of dealing with idiots who falsely accuse us of carnig more about Tokyo than the countryside. We will get through our problems, large and small. Keep calm and carry on!

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