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The Origins of Video Game Names

Blogger Drew Mackie has posted a lengthy analysis of the etymology of dozens of names from popular video game characters. It examines the real-life and mythological roots of names from Final Fantasy, Zelda, Mario Bros., Street Fighter, and many other prominent franchises, complete with citations where appropriate. Quoting: “It’s speculated that Street Fighter’s Russian wrestler Zangief takes his name from a real-life Russian wrestler, Victor Zangiev. More interesting to me is that the working name for this character was Vodka Gobalsky. This is notable for two reasons — for one, that this name is amazing [and] deserves to enter into the public consciousness and, for another, that it bears a striking resemblance to the name of a Russian boxer in Nintendo’s Punch-Out!! series, Vodka Drunkenski. I’m sure this says something about Japanese perception of Russian people. The latter Vodka, by the way, goes by the name Soda Popinski in US translations of the game, presumably because Nintendo of America didn’t allow references to booze.”

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on The Origins of Video Game Names

Using GPS Phones to Track Virtual Infections – and Real Epidemics


A few months from now, a highly contagious disease will spread through a Japanese elementary school. The epidemic will start with several unwitting children, who will infect others as they attend classes and wander the halls. If nothing is done, it will quickly gain momentum and rip through the student body, then jump to parents and others in the community. However, officials will attempt to stymie the disease and save the school — using mobile phones. The sickness will be a virtual one, in an experiment funded by the Japanese government.

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Saturday, June 13th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Using GPS Phones to Track Virtual Infections – and Real Epidemics

Japanese ESRB Bans Rape Depiction In Games

eldavojohn writes “The Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS), now 233 companies strong, and met in Tokyo yesterday to ban a controversial title from Japan known as RapeLay, an eroge game (something much more adult than the more popular dating simulators). It’s gotten a lot of press as reviewers have noted at one point the player must force sex on a 12-year-old. More importantly, the large (3 million annually) adult game industry in Japan will now need to stay away from rape in their games if they wish to remain a member of EOCS. RapeLay seems to be available on Amazon’s UK and JP sites, sparking outrage and causing a former US Ambassador to Japan to write an editorial criticizing Japan, saying, ‘Only Japan allows people to possess these hideous pictures without penalty. Six of the G-7 countries have found ways to protect the innocent from being prosecuted for possession of child pornography. Is it not time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty?’ Singapore’s Straits Times has more details, pointing out that it’s still not illegal to possess these materials in Japan. We discussed this and other games last month in an editorial.”

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Monday, June 8th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Japanese ESRB Bans Rape Depiction In Games

University Gives Away iPhones To Curb Truancy

Norsefire writes “A Japanese University is giving away iPhones to its students to use the phones’ GPS functionality to catch students who skip classes. The University claims students currently fake attendance by having other students answer for them during rollcall, they also said that while this can be abused by giving other students the phone, they are much less likely to do this due to the personal information, such as email, a phone generally contains.”

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Sunday, May 31st, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on University Gives Away iPhones To Curb Truancy

Fluorescent Monkeys Cast Light On Human Disease

Hugh Pickens writes “BBC reports that a team of Japanese scientists has integrated a new gene for green fluorescent protein into the common marmoset, causing them to glow green under ultraviolet light, creating second-generation, glow-in-the-dark monkeys in what could be a powerful new tool in human disease research. Though primates modified to generate a glowing protein have been created before, these are the first to keep the change in their bloodlines. If a fluorescent protein gene can be introduced into the monkey genome and passed onto future generations, other genes could be too opening up a world of possibilities for medical research, such as the generation of specific monkey colonies containing genetic defects that mirror human diseases aiding efforts to cure such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However many people are likely to find the routine use of monkeys in medical research far less acceptable than that of rodents, drawing action from animal rights activists. “I’m worried that these steps are being taken without any overall public discussion about whether we want to go down that road. We may find ourselves gradually drifting towards the genetic engineering of human beings,” says Dr David King, from the group Human Genetics Alert. “‘Slippery slope’ is a quite inadequate description of the process, because it doesn’t happen passively. People push it forward.””

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Fluorescent Monkeys Cast Light On Human Disease

Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan

Hugh Pickens writes “The Times (UK) reports that by allowing old maps to be overlaid on satellite pictures of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Google has unwittingly created a visual tool that has prolonged an ancient discrimination, says a lobbying group established to protect the human rights of three million burakumin, members of the sub-class condemned by the old feudal system in Japan to unclean jobs associated with death and dirt. ‘We tend to think of maps as factual, like a satellite picture, but maps are never neutral, they always have a certain point of view,’ says David Rumsey, a US map collector. Some Japanese companies actively screen out burakumin-linked job seekers, and some families hire private investigators to dig into the ancestry of fiances to make sure there is no burakumin taint. Because there is nothing physical to differentiate burakumin from other Japanese and because there are no clues in their names or accent, the only way of establishing whether or not they are burakumin is by tracing their family. By publishing the locations of burakumin ghettos with the modern street maps, the quest to trace ancestry is made easier, says Toru Matsuoka, an opposition MP and member of the Buraku Liberation League. Under pressure to diffuse criticism, Google has asked the owners of the woodblock print maps to remove the legend that identifies the ghetto with an old term, extremely offensive in modern usage, that translates loosely as ‘scum town.’ ‘We had not acknowledged the seriousness of the map, but we do take this matter seriously,’ says Yoshito Funabashi, a Google spokesman.” The ancient Japanese caste system was made illegal 150 years ago, but silent discrimination remains. The issue is complicated by allegations of mob connections in the burakumin anti-discrimination organizations.

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Sunday, May 24th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan

Japanese College Makes All Students be Tracked With iPhones

The university is phasing out normal attendance-taking methods in favor of forcing all students to carry free iPhone 3Gs equipped with GPS. That way, the school will automatically know whether they’re in class, and for that matter, their exact whereabouts at all times.

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Friday, May 22nd, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Japanese College Makes All Students be Tracked With iPhones

Turn Your iPhone Into a Web Server

miller60 writes “A Japanese company called Freebit has released ServersMan, an app that turns the iPhone into a web server. It debuted in Japan in February, has now been launched in the US, and is being touted as a ‘Personal Data Center.’ Freebit also has a video with additional information on server-enabling your iPhone. ‘Once the app is installed, PCs on the internet can access the iPhone to upload or download files through a browser or they can use the webDAV protocol. If the PC and the iPhone are on the same network, the PC can connect directly. If they are on separate networks, then FreeBit’s VPN software will engage the connection.'”

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Saturday, May 16th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Turn Your iPhone Into a Web Server

Turn Your iPhone Into a Web Server

miller60 writes “A Japanese company called Freebit has released ServersMan, an app that turns the iPhone into a web server. It debuted in Japan in February, has now been launched in the US, and is being touted as a ‘Personal Data Center.’ Freebit also has a video with additional information on server-enabling your iPhone. ‘Once the app is installed, PCs on the internet can access the iPhone to upload or download files through a browser or they can use the webDAV protocol. If the PC and the iPhone are on the same network, the PC can connect directly. If they are on separate networks, then FreeBit’s VPN software will engage the connection.'”

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Friday, May 15th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Turn Your iPhone Into a Web Server

Sony hires a professional fixer

The Japanese electronics giant, in the middle of an internal makeover, hires George Bailey from IBM, a longtime electronics industry consultant.

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Friday, May 15th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Sony hires a professional fixer