Horie: Before and After Prison

Horie got 95 days in jail before he was even considered for release. I’m not even going to risk jaywalking in Japan from now on (though I’ll probably still scam the train from time to time):



The news media surrounded Horie’s van with motorcycles on his way back to his home in Roppongi Hills. Scavengers, man.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Aso: Japanese Animation Readies Humankind for Robot Slavery

I can’t believe I’m going to see this guy next week:

The word “robot” is said to have come to us from the Czech word robota, which means “labor” or sometimes even “drudgery,” and thus is a word that originally carried a negative connotation.

But through Japan’s Astro Boy or the cat-like robot Doraemon, the meaning of the word “robot” shifted, instead becoming a benevolent friend who helps human beings. In Asia and elsewhere around the globe, robots came to be understood as the “white hats” -the good guys.

The impact of this situation is that countries with an affinity for Doraemon do not have workers who reject industrial robots, and thus in those countries, industrial productivity rises. In addition, you find that Japanese-made industrial robots sell well.

Yaskawa Electric Corporation and the other firms of Japan’s “big three” hold a market share of half the global market in the area of robots for welding or applying coatings. Of course, Astro Boy and Gigantor-what we in Japan know as “Tetsujin 28”-are there in the background to all this. In other words, what created the climate in which all this could take place was Japanese culture, and I am continually speaking of culture’s significant contributions in this area.

(Picture: Aso – 2nd from left – giving some kind of award to Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu (I’ll let you guess which one he is))

Hosting problems

Our web host, Lunarpages, sent me this helpful message the day before yesterday.

Dear Roy Berman,

The following ticket has been created by a member of our staff for you

Your question’s details:

============== Title: ==============
Account Moved to Sputnik – Excessive Resources

============== Message: ==============

Your account is utilizing excessive resources, causing a significant
degradation of services on the server. This is a shared environment and we can
not allow one user to utilize the majority of the resources on a server as it
affects all users adversely. Because of this, you have been temporarily moved
to the Sputnik server. A detail of the problem is shown below:

Ave %CPU: 5.47
AVE %MEM: 1.22
Mysql Processes: 0.5

Top Process %CPU 44.6 /usr/bin/php
Top Process %CPU 33.0 /usr/bin/php
Top Process %CPU 30.5 /usr/bin/php

We moved you to Sputnik first to solve the issue of the degraded service on
the server and second as a courtesy in order to prevent any downtime on your
siteto allow you time to rectify the situation. Currently, your site is not
suitable for a shared hosting environment.

Sputnik is not a production server and is not guaranteed to run in the same
manner as your old server nor will it support all functions you may have. This
is a transitional server only and is not intended to be a permanent placement.
Please make a decision on how you would like to proceed within seven (7) days.
After seven (7) days, your account will be suspended if no other arrangements
are made.

You may log into Sputnik using http://sputnik.lunarpages.com/cpanel or
https://sputnik.lunarpages.com:2083/ You will not be able to log into Sputnik
using the Lunarpages main login page as the server is non-production and not
available via that page.

You have the following options:

1. You may upgrade your package to our Dedicated hosting plan. For more
information on the features and pricing, please see

2. You may take steps to correct the problem. This must be done before the
seven (7) days are up. You will need to let the technician know the steps you
took to correct the issue and get approval before being returned to a
production server.

Please note that the above mentioned resource usage is due to PHP processing.
Since we do not have the exact scripts to provide (since the manner in which
PHP scripts are provided on the server only shows the username and not the
script name causing the high usage), you would need to review your accountfor
scripts that may be the cause. Please check ones such as forums, blogs,
content management systems, and galleries as these are especially likely to
create high usage.

Please note that the acceptable usage range for shuttle and voyager plans is
1.0% average %CPU or less, 1.0% average %Memory or less and Top Processes
below 20%.

3. You may look for a dedicated server or other hosting solution. Please
remember that propagation takes up to seventy two (72) hours so if you decide
on changing hosts you should allow enough time for propagation.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. We value you as a customer and
want to work with you toward a solution that is mutually beneficial. Please
let us know as quickly as possible how you would like to proceed.

Best Regards,
Justin Jereza
JSAI-System Administrator Team
Phone: 1-877-LUNARPAGES/1-877-586-2772 (U.S. & Canada – Toll-free)
Phone: 0800-072-9150 (U.K – Toll-free)
Phone: 1-714-521-8150 (International)

In the process of moving the blog to their backup server, they also managed to erase the user database portion of the SQL database, which is why the site has not been working properly recently. I just re-ran the wordpress install script and created a new admin account so I can log in and do things, but I’m not going to bother recreating the other users and fixing everything until the hosting issues are resolved.

I don’t know if lunarpages is going to properly restore my service or not, but I am probably going to seek a new host after this, so please email me with suggestions.

Takebe Telling Bad Jokes on the Campaign Trail in Chiba by-election

I don’t know about you guys, but this neck-and-neck by-election in Chiba prefecture has me riveted! (Click link for background though it’s pretty obviously biased against the DPJ). Somehow new DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa has made the press almost completely forget about that sloppy screw-up Tony Blair wanna-be predecessor of his Maehara.

ZAKZAK, as usual, has some interesting coverage (good parts summarized — best digested by reading link above for background first):

Takebe Telling Meaningless Bad Jokes in Chiba by-election
Limp LDP Showing Leaves Takebe’s Leadership Spinning its Wheels

OtaOzawa’s DPJ is strengthening its offenses for the Apr 23 by election in Chiba’s 7th district. The new opposition president (63yo) has reportedly ordered members of his party to skip meetings in favor of supporting candidate Kazumi Oda (26yo) who has upstaged LDP contender Ken Saito (46) in the polls.

In response to Ozawa’s full court press, the LDP’s very own “honorable yes-man” Tsutomu Takebe has taken the reins to try and turn things around.

Along with the popular figures like Prime Minister Koizumi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe offering words of support, “Koizumi children” including Taizo Sugimura have joined the fray by passing out leaflets in front of train stations.

Saito But a certain lack of vitality can’t be denied.

An LDP prefectural office official admitted, “Conflict over candidate selection between the prefectural chapter and the central party has had an effect [on the atmosphere]. The lackadaisical prefectural assembly members are also an issue. The fact that Takebe keeps telling bad jokes like ‘rock paper scissors KEN SAITO!’ (『最初はグー、斎藤ケン』 in Japanese) is killing the mood for some activists.”

Continue reading Takebe Telling Bad Jokes on the Campaign Trail in Chiba by-election

Quick lesson in METI ineptitude: The PSE Law explained

Yes, the PSE Law (which would have banned the sale of some used video game consoles and almost all vintage musical instruments) has been thoroughly declawed. Thank god. But weren’t you the least bit curious about how this all got started? I was, so it was especially interesting for me to come across this article in the 3/25/2006 issue of Japanese business weekly, Shukan Toyo Keizai (Weekly Oriental Economy, link opens PDF file). Some highlights (translated where it was easy, abstracted where it was a pain):

Something’s Wrong Here, METI! (Part 2): Used Goods Sold No More?! Analysis of METI’s teeter-tottering over the PSE Law

A scandal began when a used goods dealer asked a question to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

It was October 2005 when a letter arrived at the headquarters of major used goods chain Hard Off Corporation. It said: “Pursuant to the Product Safety Electrical Appliance and Material Law (PSE Law), electric appliances without the “PSE label” can no longer be sold as of April 1. Please take note.”

The sender was Victor JVC. It was addressed to vendors stores selling the company’s products. Hard Off, though mainly dealing in used goods, sells some new items, so it was as if by chance that the letter made it there.

President Ken Nagahashi of Hard Off was worried: Does “can no longer be sold” include used goods? What are the stipulations for used goods? He looked on METI’s website, but no matter where he looked he could not find anything about used goods.

He then directly asked METI, but the person at the Product Safety Division who received his question could not give an immediate answer as to whether used goods were included. Hard Off was at a loss.
Continue reading Quick lesson in METI ineptitude: The PSE Law explained

Another Iraq War lawsuit bites the dust

Some people think that the U.S. has a monopoly on stupid lawsuits. Japan has its share, too. The main difference is that the Japanese courts usually tell the plaintiffs to get lost. Yomiuri reports on the dismissal of one such case in Nagoya:

The plaintiffs sought the termination of the deployment, claiming that “the SDF deployment to Iraq, in addition to being an act of war in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution, violates the right to peaceful existence provided in the Preamble to the Constitution, and has caused psychological damage.”

Similar lawsuits are pending in eleven other district courts, including Sapporo and Tokyo; the plaintiffs’ suits in Kofu and Osaka have also been dismissed.

“Dismiss” (却下 kyakka) means that the court found no legal standing for the suit. Article 9 has been the subject of many lawsuits ending in a dismissal, going back to the predecessors of the SDF in the early 1950s. While many citizens might object, few people can prove any injury resulting from the government’s alleged constitutional violations.

One notable exception to this was the Sunakawa Case of 1959, which challenged an arrest made under a law based on Article 9. The plaintiffs, who had been arrested for trespassing on Tachikawa Air Base in Tokyo, made it all the way to the Supreme Court before their case against Article 9 was conclusively thrown out.