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Comment Re:Download and raw DVD tax (Score 1) 278

it's pretty dumb to allow "soliciting sexual services" but forbiding "paying for sexual services".

Actually, it's pretty brilliant.

In "smart" countries like the US, both sides are illegal, and punishment is much more harsh on the prostitutes than on the johns (they consider it a drug dealer vs. user paradigm). So life is pretty bad for the aforementioned ladies of the night: who are they to run to when a client is physically abusive? How much of a hurry would you be in to run to the police and tell them things they can (and will!) lock you up for?

Now look at the case in Sweden: clients had better toe the line and be good, or they'll be looking at charges of soliciting for sex on top of assault, etc.

It may not be "tough on crime", but it's a great way to help protect a typically-disadvantaged group of people.

Comment Re:Some thoughts (Score 1) 91

This is Japan. We don't have much in the way of lawns. And we get plenty of rain, so it's really not needed in the first place. Right idea, wrong country to try it in, I'm afraid.

The other ideas sound pretty good, though - I'm pretty sure the majority of organic waste gets summarily burned, which strikes me as a potential missed opportunity.

Comment Re:Is Japan is melting down? (Score 5, Insightful) 580

The nuclear bit hasn't produced much in the way of damage, at this point, but the tsunami did far, far more damage to Japan than Katrina did to the United States.

This. Speaking from on-the-ground here in Japan, the west is throwing a bit fit over nuclear scaremongering, but national news coverage is far more focused on the earthquake and tsunami. People within 30km of the station have evacuated, and that has its own problems, but the biggest difficulty right now is the mass destruction of homes and shelters, given the cold weather - it's currently -1C in Sendai.

Nuclear winter makes for much sexier headlines, but it's the plain old regular kind that's of biggest concern right now.

Comment Re:Sigh. (Score 1) 652

So ask yourself: If a person who made something you want expects compensation, why do you deserve to have it for free?

You're begging the question, but even despite that I can say we deserve it because that is the natural state of things. It's just not the way the world works. There is no Natural Law of Copyright that smites those who spread ideas. Talking about why we deserve it is missing the point. And that point is that it's downright unreasonable to expect the kind of draconian enforcement and effort required for their desired compensation.

It made sense to ban the unauthorized commercial publication of books, back when writing and publishing and distributing works was so difficult. Average Joe wasn't using the printing press in his basement to cobble together a few copies of a story. Average Jane wasn't plinking away on a typewriter in her free time. It took a lot of effort to put together works of art, and it was easy to protect because so few people could work against it - there weren't enough copiers. Society accepted the then-light burden of enforcement in order to make the heinously difficult enterprise of making art a little easier.

But flash forward to the 21st century and things couldn't be more different. It's never been easier or cheaper to make art. Books can be written on word processors with a fraction of the effort and printed with a fraction of the cost of years past. Quality music recording can be done for pennies on the dollar of what it used to take. Digital film and ever-cheaper-and-better cameras have made filmmaking available to the average enthusiast. And masses of people have been doing these things.

Meanwhile, it's no longer the unscrupulous upper-class printing press owners who have the ability to copy - it's as easy as clicking the forward button on your email. It's as effortless as Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. Everyone's doing it. And you want us to unceasingly police it, to throw people in jail and take away their rights and ruin their lives, just to keep up the side of a bargain we no longer need to get art? Why do you deserve that?

Comment Re:In Japan they do something like this already. (Score 1) 135

As a long-term Japanese resident who interacts with high-school-age Japanese kids daily (they're my students), let me inform you that that's not the whole story. She may be one of the kids on the straight and narrow, but there are plenty of kids here who don't bat an eye at drinking. Heck, even plenty of the "good" kids do some not-so-legitimate things from time to time, just like they do anywhere else. People are kept in line less by appeals to some high concept of honor or tradition and more by the simple fact that Japan is full of people so there's always someone watching you.

Interestingly, there's less concern over underage drinking than underage smoking - as you say, alcohol vending machines just require you insert money, but cigarette machines require a Taspo card.

Comment Re:Hmmm (Score 5, Informative) 467

Don't forget the change in life expectancy.

Classical Greece and Rome only had a life expectancy of 28 years. Medieval Britain had a life expectancy of 30. Early 20th Century had a life expectancy of 30-45 years.

The average life expectancy in Colonial America was under 25 years in the Virginia colony,[18] and in New England about 40% of children failed to reach adulthood.

So in order to marry, have children and live long enough to care for them, you would have to marry at an early age of around 14 through 16. This probably the reasoning behind the NC state law mentioned earlier in this thread.

From the same article, under "Misconceptions":

A popular misconception about life expectancy is that people living beyond the staged age was unusual.


This ignores the fact that life expectancy changes depending on age and the one often presented is the "at birth" number. For example, a Roman Life Expectancy table at the University of Texas shows that at birth the life expectancy was 25 but if one lived to the age of 5 one's life expectancy jumped to 48.

Life expectancy rates throughout history look weak because a huge proportion of children never lived to adulthood. When half your population dies by age 5 and the other half lives to 45, you get a life expectancy of around 25. I can't think of any time period where people who lived through childhood couldn't presume to live long enough to raise a family without having to get started at 14.

Comment Re:Science disagrees with you Kagan (Score 3, Insightful) 664

Several sources place 18th and 19th century literacy rates above 95%.

Well, I don't know where they get their numbers from, but the official statistics ( show a steadily increasing literacy rate over time that didn't break 95% until 1930. 1 in 4 blacks were illiterate until 1920, historical data showing more like 80% illiteracy among blacks around the time of emancipation (1870, the oldest figures immediately available).

There has long been a tradition of excellent elite schooling among the upper class, but the data just doesn't support the thesis for the population as a whole. Public education was key for all those who weren't already on top of the social ladder.

Comment Re:Does this have to do with socioeconomic shifts? (Score 2, Insightful) 284

That's an interesting thought, but the characters in question have a long, long history in the Japanese language. The summary can sound misleading, but these are not new words to anyone but the list-makers: by and large, they're words like "key", "curse", "depression", "pot", and a particularly manly but common-as-dirt way of saying "I". Really, the list still excludes plenty of characters used every day, while including some quite rare ones, too.

I must admit to a certain level of ignorance here, but how many new characters are being created in China? Not considering the simplification of the character set, of course.

Comment Re:Parsed the title wrong (Score 2, Insightful) 284

As cool as that would be, it would give Japanese the same difficulties English has with obscure words: adding more roots to build words out of only complicates the process of learning the vocabulary. As it is, most new words are made by putting together the roots of existing words (which, conveniently, are typically represented by a kanji), and consequently it can be much easier to understand the meaning of an unfamiliar word. Often, in Japanese people will ask of an unfamiliar word how it is written; in English this occurs somewhat too, but it seems to be a more prevalent feature in Japanese.

Really, although the prospect of 2000+ kanji is quite daunting to people when they're starting out, once you have them as a solid base they make new vocabulary acquisition so much easier. It's wonderful.

Comment Re:Worst Languages Ever (Score 1) 284

I believe the GP was giving the English plural ending of -s as an example of an inflectional ending, rather than as an example of an actual Japanese inflectional ending, but I'll agree it's somewhat unclear for those who don't already know what we're talking about.

To make things a bit clearer: nouns are often written with kanji, although there are exceptions; verbs and many adjectives are written with kanji + hiragana. One of the primary functions of the hiragana on verbs and adjectives is to conjugate them: for example, in contrast to English go/went, in Japanese it's iku/itta, where the 'i' in both words uses the same kanji, and hiragana are used for ku/tta respectively.

Comment Re:Barlow's a Republican (Score 1) 773

Terms need wikipedia pages to prove legitimacy now?

FWIW, I read the GP's use of "corporate anarchists" to refer to those who wish for an essentially unfettered market (there's the anarchy) whose primary actors are corporations. I don't quite understand the GP's scare-bolding of Republican and Dick Cheney (or, for that matter, Bob Weir), but the terms he uses, at least, aren't so unclear.

Comment Re:are liberties essential? (Score 1) 281

I'm not talking about a building that they're paying someone to live in. I'm talking about a country they entered illegally. This is not their home. Any residence they might take up here is illegal.

And here I always thought that home was your environment: your friends, your family, the community you contribute to and are a part of. Apparently none of that has any validity, and it's instead dependent on some mystical property of the land on which you are born, or of the purity of the blood that runs through your veins, as decided by other people hundreds of years ago and upheld by yet others who may be thousands of miles away who neither you nor I will likely ever meet nor be able to hold accountable. Maybe it's just me, but that argument has little resemblance to any idea of "home" I can conjure up.

You would declare America to be the home of the children of expats who have never seen the country and never want to, while denying it to those born a few miles south of the right patch of soil who live their whole lives working to make their place in pursuit of the American dream. Furthermore, your argument ignores (or simply isn't aware of?) the 45% of illegal immigrants who are overstays, and therefore entered the country illegally, many of whom are in the process of naturalizing as citizens but whose status in the meanwhile is either in legal limbo or technically illegal.

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