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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Take A Vacation On A Floating Hotel

I haven't gone on a vacation since maybe 2006, since just after my son was born, and in retrospect, I shouldn't have gone that time, either.

I went to Chicago for a few days to deal with the comic book convention there, as a last-ditch attempt to have a comic book written by my self recognized as being the funniest thing since sliced bread.

Not a high target, as sliced bread is notoriously unfunny.

Usually whenever I have time off, I have to spend it at home... and for whatever reason, everyone else is home too, so I can't even veg out in front of the TV playing LEGO Indiana Jones on the PS3 (I hate the PS4). So I have to do stuff.

i also had a bunch of writing to do for work, which sticks in my craw... plus I had to do my writing for this blog, and for Pioneers of Aviation...

I'm probably reaching terminal burnout soon enough, as baseball season started last weekend (indoor practices), for which I am a coach, plus the outdoor hockey season is still on for a couple of weeks more.

Whatever... I suppose I should continue to enjoy while I still can...

Still... there a part of me that recalls the three years I spent in Japan... and every time I got to that stressful tipping point, I would stop, look around and think: "I'm in Japan!"

Even then I knew that the odds I would ever return once I left would be slim to none, as I would have a job, a home and a family, each with its own financial burdens.

As such, I did my best to enjoy every blessed moment I could in Japan... not really giving a sh!t about what others thought (or so I told myself).

While it's true I often went on "vacation" through Japan, not being one of those foreigners who would simply use the country as a blasting off point for other international destinations. Sure, I did that, but it was also imperative for me to see as much of Japan as possible.

I did not see Hokkaido... that huge island to the north... but what the hell... I figured that scenery-wise, it would just look like Northern Ontario, and I've been there-done that a few times.

One of the more epic trips I took in Japan was with Ashley, as we traveled by bullet train (shinkansen) down from Nasushiyobara to Tokyo, and then west to ... Nagasaki, I think... and from there, we took a boat across the Seto Inland Sea to Kyushu where we traveled around in the humid, rain.

It always rained when I traveled in Japan. It's why they called me the ame otoko (rain man).

So... long story shortened, what we have here is something I wish was available to me 26 years ago... a floating hotel that takes visitors across the Seto Inland Sea.

Created by Japanese architectural studio Yasushi Horibe, the beautiful hotel called "Guntu" is inspired by traditional Japanese architecture and features wooden interiors amongst its 19-room hotel.

"A tranquil journey unique to the Seto Inland Sea can be found here at this little hotel," says Guntu. "Time passes slowly on board, enveloped in the refreshing fragrance and gentle warmth of wood.
When you enter your cabin, exquisite views of the Seto Inland Sea spread before your eyes."

I'm paying how much for this non-gaijin-friendly seat?
Along with the 19 guest rooms, there's a scenic guest lounge with open view of the sea, plus a restaurant, a sushi and cocktail bar, a gym, sauna, spa, relaxation zones and a stunning rooftop terrace.
Should you become bored of screwing your mistress or boy toy, one can always come up for air to visit the outdoor dining terrace. Spectacular! Maybe next time you'll take your spouse. Nawwwwww.
And all with a beautiful nautical view surrounding you.
Your view from your bed... the headboard at the forefront of the photo...
There are three levels of cabin available, rich, very rich, and stupid rich (my terminology):
  • Guntu Suite (stupid rich) offers 90 square meters (969 square feet) of space as the largest cabin. I believe there is only one;
  • Grand Suites (very rich) is the mid-range, and offers the widest berth at 80 square meters (861 square -feet), not to mention the widest balcony. Suck on that, stupid rich!;
  • Terrace Suites are 50-square-meter (538-square-foot) cabins that allow one to up-size to a room with an open-air bath. I only assume there's some sort of protective covering... unless it's like when I used to own my own condo apartment on the 17th floor, and would just stand there at the large wall-to-wall-to-ceiling window dressed only in my birthday suit.
Further full disclosure: I was in such good shape at that time, that you could have bounced a silver dollar off my backside and got four quarters in change. Now, not so much... I might owe you 40 cents. 

Each of these three types of suite comes with a double bedroom, a private outdoor terrace with lounge area, mini bar (NEVER order from the mini bar), full en suite with shower and an outdoor bathtub.
Your own private bath... towel and stuff flapping in the breeze.

The Guntu floating hotel departs from Onomichi City, in Hiroshima-ken with trips up to three nights available to guests.

Prices start from ¥400,000 (US$3,780) per night for two guests, including all meals and access to on-board facilities and services.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream...
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dreammmmmm,

Andrew Joseph
PS: For all you Alice in Wonderland fans, and who isn't: Don't wake the Red King.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pet Sweat - The Japanese Drink For Pets - Updated

I'm unsure if Pocari Sweat was the worst drink I ever had while in Japan... it may have been because i predisposed not to like it because it had the word "sweat" in its brand name.

All I can tell you is that even though I might have been dehydrated, regardless of its supposed hydrating promise, the taste was horrible.

That's just my opinion, and need not be yours.

As for the drink pictured in the photo above, we have Pocari Pet Sweat - no, not for people, rather it's a drink for pets... and judging by the graphic on teh label - just for dogs.

Considering my last dog would sometimes eat his own poo, he might actually enjoy Pet Sweat, a drink cultivated expressly for dogs that work out.

Most dogs that are active, will sweat... or at least that's sorta what the whole panting, tongue hanging out thing is about.

Would Pet Sweat actually be helpful to a panting dog? Sure.

Would said dog consider it a horrible taste? Not my poop eating dog, surely. Pet Sweat is calcium-fortified water.

If you've ever had water that was heavy in calcium - IE from poor taps, you might not think that having calcium in a drink is good for you.... but perhaps it's okay.. in limited doses.

For example, a person sitting on their butt watching the Olympics should probably not drink Gatorade... because the body doesn't require the salts that are in it. (I like Blue flavor.)

(Yes, I know blue is not a flavor.)

But how about calcium-fortified water for your pet? When does the dog need that extra calcium? Why isn't water good enough? Just what sort of activities is your dog doing that requires an injection of calcium in its water?

Only you the pet owner who gives their pet Pet Sweat can answer that.

Still.. there's probably a reason why this drink hasn't caught on in North America... or Europe...

Anyhow... neither it seems did Pet Sweat catch on in Japan... as this 2008 debut doesn't seem to be around now.

Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of this blog.

By the way... for my poo-eating dog... I would slip him a Listerine breath strip to at least freshen that breath should he come near me. I like to think it worked and killed any bacteria in his mouth that was there from his horrible, horrible meal.

Addendum: Hours after this was publisher, General Mills announced the purchase of Blue Buffalo Pet Products, a "wholesome" pet food manufacturing company for a cool US$8-billion

Shows what I know... perhaps Pet Sweat was simply ahead of its time...

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Japanese Owl Flies Down Parking Lot At 100 kph In 1.89 seconds

Hmmm, maybe those headlights give the Owl the owl appearance.
The Aspark Owl supercar. Who?

Puns aside, the Japanese supercar, the Owl,… an electric car… recently ran a 1.89 second 0-100 kilometers per hour (0-62 miles per hour) - an absolutely stupid speed done February 11, 2018 in some place in Tochigi-ken, my old home prefecture.
Sadly, this is the nicest back end I've seen in a while. It's winter hear in Toronto.

The Owl hit the triple-digits after just 27 meters (88 feet). What’s impressive, is that the speed run wasn’t even done on a real race track. It was done in a parking lot, as the electric (!!!) car took off with a non-classical automobile whine and just as quickly the driver had to slam the brakes less he slam into a wall directly in front of him.

You can see a YouTube video of it HERE.
Look at that side-paneling... not sure if there's anything there resembling an Owl, but who the heck cares?

The 1.89 second achievement makes it .01 seconds faster than what the Tesla Roadster can do, the Elon Musk car company that says it has a top speed of over 250 miles per hour (402.3 kilometers per hour) and a single charge range of 620 miles (997.8 kilometers).  

Now, to be fair, the Owl did use hot tires in this test run, but whatever…

When it comes to supercars and top speeds, a truism is that electric vehicles have a virtually limitless potential top speed with the greatest limitation being the tire to street interface.

In two years time, Aspark plans on bringing the Owl into production for us average people with US$4 million-plus in their pocket to purchase - with plans to offer 50 vehicles.
Gull wings are always way more cool than scissor or butterfly doors, but I have a fondness for suicide doors, though that wouldn't have looked good on the Owl.

These sleek looking cars have gull wings, a true digital dashboard, and a steering wheel that has more buttons on it than when you tried to BeDazzle that sweater back in the 1980s with sequins. Okay, sequins aren’t buttons, but I just wanted to utilize the BeDazzler.

Weighing an unladen (no driver) 850 kilograms (1,874 pounds), the carbon-fiber Owl’s maximum power output is one 429 horsepower (320kW)… or for you grease monkeys who believe torque is more important, it has 764 Nm (563 pounds - feet) of torque.

Right-hand drive? Ugh.
The car runs on a 300-volt, 2,000 amp 4-wheel drive system powered by a combination of supercapacitors and batteries with an as yet unknown capacity or range.

Should you buy one? Maybe.. but the Tesla Roadster which will be more readily available is only going to cost my next wife a mere US $200,000, and will have four seats, meaning that unlike the Owl, you will NOT have to open the door, lie on the ground and roll in.

I'm not sure if this is comfortable seating or something to prevent the G-forces from turning your front into your back.
For the extra one or 2/100ths of a second, you will get a Tesla that is generally a car that you could drive the whole family in, especially those with the standard 2.2 kids… and you can still have enough oomph to pull into a parking space to make sure no one snipes that space you were waiting for.

Best work on your braking, however.  

Still… for now, the Owl rules the asphalt. 

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

100 Million People Could Die - And Japan Is At The Heart Of It!

Did you know that down in the ocean  - part of Japan - there's a lava dome that could potentially erupt and kill over 100 million people?

That's 1/76th of the world's current population of 7.6 billion as of December of 2017.

Thanks, Japan.

Okay... but how likely is it to actually erupt and kill all of these people? Scientists peg that percentage at a measly one percent.

Uh... that's actually quite high, if one actually thinks about it.

And just how accurate is that one percent number? It's not like scientists can actually predict when or where or how hard a volcanic system will erupt!

The lava dome, which is inside an underwater volcano was discovered by the Kobe Ocean-Bottom Exploration Center (KOBEC), locating it approximately 50 kilometers (~30 miles) south of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The lava dome is about 610 meters (2,000 feet) high and 9.66 kilometers (six miles) in diameter... so it's a big mammajamma.

Kagoshima Bay itself is actually something called the Aira Caldera (姶良カルデラ, Aira-Karudera). A caldera, as opposed to a volcanic crater, is a huge depression in the ground which formed after a previous supervolcanic eruption. As the magma chamber emptied, the ground above sank in and partially filled the hole left behind.
According to KOBEC head professor Tatsumi Yoshiyuki (surname first) in speaking to Japan newspaper The Mainichi: “Although the probability of a gigantic caldera eruption hitting the Japanese archipelago is one percent in the next 100 years, it is estimated that the death toll could rise to approximately 100 million in the worst case scenario.”

Does that imply that it's at two percent over the next two hundred years, or is it like the way we measure earthquakes, and go up by a level of 10 per 0.1 magnitude?

And really - again - one percent over the next 100 years... so it could be the next 10 years, and an even higher percentage...

While an ordinary volcano is triggered (we think) by internal mechanisms such as magma pressure build-up up over time, whereby it punches through the rock....

A supervolcano is triggered by going's on above the Earth’s crust.

Considering it has a large magma chamber below it, just its weight alone can cause it to become unstable and to form cracks and faults.

Via the faults, magma can create a chain reaction that could lead to an explosion which could extinguish a whole lotta life on the planet... maybe even all life.

So how can you tell when a supervolcano will explode? You can hazard a guess... and that's all.  

And for all you hypochondriacs out there, there's a supervolcano out in the U.S., as well. Out in Yellowstone National Park, where that self-same volcanic system last erupted 600,000 years ago... and while a volcano is usually considered to be extinct if it has blown up in 10,000 years, the Yellowstone National Park is a hub of volcanic-like activity.

Ever heard of Old Faithful, the hydrothermal geyser that erupts like clockwork every few hours?

That's part of it.

Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the geothermal features of the Yellowstone Caldera. Photo by Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia CC-by-SA 3.0

But it's not ready to explode just yet... it takes a few decades for the volcanic system to become hyper enough to explode in an eruption.

Scientists do not believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt for at least another 1,000 years.

But again... how do you know?

There's also a supervolcano in Long Valley, California, one in New Mexico, one in Sumatra Indonesia, one around the North Island New Zealand,  and one under Naples Italy.

Nowhere is a safe spot. Maybe Africa. Yeah... the cradle of humanity...  but the southernmost part.

Okay, so some 100 million people could die if the Japan Kagoshima supervolcano erupts... how do we know that?

After the explosion comes severe pyroclastic flows of a fluidized mixture of solid and semi-solid fragments of rock, ash and incredibly hot expanding gases which act similarly to a snow avalanche.Have you ever seen the "statuary" of Pompei?
The casts of the corpses of a group of human victim of the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius, found in the so-called “Garden of the fugitives” in Pompeii. Image by Lancevortex - Own work.
Now... just because you live a long ways away from the volcano, in a supervolcano's pyroclastic flow, the ash is so stupidly hot that it would turn back into lava as soon as it hit the ground... and consider that a supervolcano can push ash hundreds of miles away (100 miles  = 161 kilometers). That means, that even if you are say... 500 kilometers (310 miles) away, you could be showered with lava.

This map refers to the fall out from a possible Yellowstone volcanic eruption. For reference in gold, is the spread of ash from Mount St. Helens back in 1980. 

Should you have survived this onslaught, next comes the winter that never ends, as ash enters our atmosphere and effectively acts as a shield blocking out the warming rays of the sun... dropping the temperature on the planet, as well as effectively stopping plant growth...  

Anyhow... you can see a teeny tiny video below describing the Japanese supervolcano.... though you probably will have learned more just from reading the above....  

You're gonna need Sunscreen 2 billion, I think. 
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ultraman And Me

When I was a kid - pre-teen - somewhere around the age of seven or eight, I was lucky enough to have watched the Japanese kid sci-fi show Ultraman on television here in Toronto. That's Ultraman performing his special Ultra Beam (ウルトラビーム, Urutora Bīmu).

Ultraman was awesome.

My friend Umberto D. and I would watch it at either his place or mine - on Channel 29, back when we had to turn the main dial to UHF, and then use the TV's second dial to crank it around to find the station... and then adjust the other knobs to make it come in properly from its signal in Grand Island, New York.

While I was always intrigued by the Carvel ice cream commercials that were delivered by the monotone voice-over - probably the owner describing how delicious the ice cream Cookie Puss and Fudgie the Whale was, Umberto and I were fascinated by this weird Japanese television show, Ultraman.

I wish I could find the real old 1970s commercials for Carvel... still, this one has THE man. The fact that myself and my wife can still recall his voice - that tells you how effective it was!

Perhaps because Channel 29 was also in the habit of showing Chinese martial arts flicks and Japanese monster movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we were not put off by the overdubbed English voices on these Oriental programs.

Yes, back then... and even through the early 1990s, we called such things "Oriental" rather than "Asian"... and to be honest, I'm unsure about when that change fully came about. It's like Colored, versus Black versus African-American... but I don't know how any Black person in The Netherlands is an African-American, which is probably why I appear to use a North American archaic term of "Black"... though none of my Black friends have any issue with the term as I use it. I know, because I asked them.

Anyhow... Ultraman (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) is a tokusatsu (特撮 - a Japanese term that applies to any live-action film or television drama that features considerable use of special effects) that first aired on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) produced by Tsuburaya Productions (円谷プロダクション, Tsuburaya Purodakushon) back in July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes, or 40 if we count a pre-premiere special that aired one week earlier on July 10, 1966).

Because it's Japan, things are never as cut and dry as things ought to be. The Ultraman television show is the first show to feature an Ultraman character, but it is the second series within the so-called Ultra Series, with the first being Ultra Q (ウルトラQ, Urutora Kyū), a black-and-white show that appeared on TBS from January 2 to July 3, 1966 (though the final episode was preempted until December 14, 1967), with a total of 28 episodes.

As such, Ultraman appeared one week after July 3 on July 10, 1966.

In Ultra Q, a team of investigators would check out weekly reports on strange monsters appearing in Japan. It was originally akin to The Twilight Zone and/or The Outer Limits, but after a few episodes TBS asked Tsuburaya Productions to add more giant monsters, perhaps as a way to capture kids who were already into Godzilla and Gamera.

The show's title of Ultra Q was to have been "Unbalance", but all that changed after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Japanese female gymnast Endo Yukio and and male gymnasts Hayata Takuji and Yamashita Haruhito (all surname first) and the Japanese team as a whole won gold medals. At that time in the gymnastics world, an easy routine was rated A, a more difficult one, a B, and even more difficult one a C.

The Japanese team liked to call theirs Ultra C, as in even more difficult than C (or, the mathematically incorrect more than 110% effort). Nowadays, the ratings have increased to A to G.

Because of the team's success at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the term "ultra" had entered into the everyday Japanese lexicon, becoming one of those words people liked to use.

As such, the "Unbalance" show was renamed Ultra Q before it ever aired.

Q, by the way, was chosen as a link to another TBS television program, Obake no Q-tarō, an animated series based on the manga by Fujiko Fujio. The Q does stand for "question".

So... Ultra Q introduced a Japanese world where giant monsters were now part of the world, and Ultraman... well, it offered a new hope as a means to combat the giant monsters.

 The Ultraman show actually opens with the Ultra Q logo exploding into the Ultraman logo.

As for the Ultraman show itself, the premise is: Whenever Earth is threatened by alien invaders or  giant monsters, the Science Patrol will fight them with their cool 1960s high-tech weaponry and ultra-cool vehicles reminiscent of The Thunderbirds.

However, after one of the Science Patrol members, Hayata, is injured by a craft that was also chasing an orb carrying a giant monster, that other space craft's occupants - an Ultraman - provides Hayata with special abilities to change into the giant alien himself, Ultraman.

Here's something I wondered at, but now find confirmation... TBS wanted the actors on its show to look as "westernized" as possible... and they succeeded.

For example, the female character in the show has brown hair... and while not impossible in Japan, I saw only natural black hair when I was there in the 1990s.

After each episode, Umberto and I would wrestle with each other much in the same way Ultraman and whatever monster he battled that week - taking out tables and lamps as though they were buildings and bridges. We would each perform the Ultra Beam on each other as the finishing move.

We were good kids, each one of us got to be Ultraman during our weekly battles, and no living rooms were destroyed during the course of our battles. Maybe.

Anyhow... I watched the first episode of Ultraman on YouTube. And now, so cane you. Just click on the link:

The second episode I was able to embed - and what's impressive, is that it breaks the FOURTH WALL, as the Space Patrol folk talk directly to us, the kid, er viewer:

Enjoy. Ultraman's not rocket science, but it is fun. Other English dubbed episodes should appear on the right of the YouTube page!

Since this original Ultraman television show, there have been numerous spin-offs over the decades, with some saying Ultra Seven is the best, coming hot on the heels of the Ultrman show in 1967-68.

Since 1966, there have been 31 different series of Ultraman through 2017, with one new series each scheduled for 2018 and 2019. You can all the iterations HERE.

Even though these 1966 episodes were watched by me circa 1972, in 1990 when in Japan I mentioned to one of the classes of Japanese junior high school kids I taught in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken that I used to watch Ultraman... and everyone, from all the school's students, teacher and principals were soon chatting with me about the show!

Sometimes, alcohol need not be the only ice-breaker. Some times it's Ultraman.

Andrew Joseph

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Human Vapor

At work I sit beside a guy who has an OCD issue where he constantly has to rub his hands together every 20 seconds or so.

Despite him having a bottle of hand lotion on his desk, which he does use, the hand rubbing sounds rough and dry, giving it an audio appearance similar to snakes having sex while shedding skin.

Annoying for myself and others around him, we are at least respectful enough about the poor bugger.

But what about us poor distracted buggers? Tough noogies. I wear a cheap pair of earbuds I picked up at a convenience store for $15 out of my own money.

Of course, when I have the ear buds in, the cord floats centimeters over my keyboard constantly getting in the way of me when I type.
Wired! On the plus side, you can see the cool-looking bluejay and mallard duck made with LEGO bricks.
Anyhow, I now listen to music all day long at work in my attempts to drown out the scratchy palms… but because I don’t wish to go effing deaf, nor do I want to be completely oblivious of people around me needing to ask me questions, I wear the ear buds, listen to music at a low volume, can hear people when they talk to me, and can still hear the palms scratching back in forth - just not as loudly.

What do I listen to at work? Besides never wanting to hear the classic rock song Hand Jive, I listen to songs with a heavier rock and roll sound - like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, and love listening to nasty funk from the 1970s. But I’m already running out of things to listen to as I have nearly gone through everything on the Internet.

Yes… nearly everything on the frickin' Internet.

A favorite Far Side cartoon!
I can’t listen to anything resembling Ted Talks or books or anything that takes away my already compromised concentration - I write creatively in my day job, too.

Anyhow, after rediscovering the hillbilly punk sound of the Reverend Horton Heat I used to listen to, YouTube suggested I give a listen to some weird group called Man or Astro-man?

Pleasantly surprised by this Auburn, Alabama, U.S. surf rock group from 1992 - present, I listened to the entire album of Destroy All Astromen (1994). 

I suppose by not including a hyphen in astromen, these are different astromen from the group which has a hyphen.

Do I pronounce the hyphen when I talk about the group?

Then I listened to their first album: Is It ... Man or Astro-man? (ASTRO is italics).  Have a listen:

It's largely believed the group took its name from the poster of the U.S. release of the Japanese film The Human Vapor, which includes the tagline “IS HE MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?”.

American movie poster for the Japanese flick now known as The Human Vapor. You can see where the rock group took its name... lower left...
Because I write a lot, I try and move all over the place in topics to give the reader several options to mull over per writing... like in this article where I talk about work, music and movies... though this might be the first instance of me doing that...I should do that...

The Human Vapor is indeed a Japanese sci-fi flick, released by Toho in Japan on December 11, 1960 coming in at 91 minutes in length, but with the Japanese name: Gasu ningen dai 1 gō (ガス人間第一号, with the literal translation of "Gas Human Being No. 1"). The Japanese movie poster can be seen at the very top of this article. 

It took a few years, but the film was later released in the U.S. by Brenco Pictures as The Human Vapor, with an English-language over-dub beginning May 20, 1964 and shortened down by 12 minutes to come in at 79 minutes when released.

It was probably done because the film was part of a double-feature (Drive-In anyone?) with another Japanese science-fiction movie called Gorath in the U.S. (but in Japan it was known as: 妖星ゴラス, Yōsei Gorasu, aka Ominous Star Gorath) about mankind's efforts to move Earth out of its orbit to avoid it from colliding with a runaway star.That actually sounds interesting.

Sure, but what is The Human Vapor about?

It's about a man named Tsuchiya Yoshio (surname first) and his love for a Noh (能) dancer... oh and his ability to transform into a gaseous state.

Here's what IMDb has to say on the plot:

A (REMOVED by ME) is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapor'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a beautiful dancer. The Human Vapor is ruthless in his quest for money and kills anyone who stands in his way, especially police. He soon becomes Tokyo's most wanted criminal. Can he be stopped before he kills again?

IMDb spells "Vapor" as "Vapour", but I have edited to the American standard spelling.

Anyhow, today we've learned: that smart men can turn into criminals if a woman is somehow involved; how I spend my time at work, and; that more-modern surf music is kindda cool.

Wanna watch The Human Vapor? Click on the link HERE - it's in Japanese with English sub-titles.

The first thing I noticed, was the left-hand drive car! The next thing is that the first two women we see in this movie are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! If Japan ever wanted something to boost tourism, this movie was a fantastic start!

Also... it only took about $200 to get him to undergo the experiment. $200. Of course, we'll learn why it only took that amount. Oh... but when he signs the papers, look at the room... the scene is shot at an angle... giving one the subconscious impression that something is askew.

Actress Sata Keiko (surname first), who stars as the plucky reporter in The Human Vapor, is also in Gorath, as the Prime Minister's secretary! She doesn't appear to have done much else in acting - a total of six movies between 1960-1962. I'm unsure if she's still with us.

She does a great job in The Human Vapor! Plus, I would have traveled to Japan to meet someone like her if I was around in 1960! Wowser!

As for actress Yachigusa Kaoru (八千草 薫) who plays the Noh dancer, she still about at the age of 87, and has a full-body of movie work. Gorgeous!

But... do you know what's really surprising?

The Human Vapor is a really, really good movie! Watch it in its entirety at the link above! I did!

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ku-Go Death Ray Rumor

First off, let's start by saying that the concept of a death ray is just that - a concept.

While it's true that we could have someone stand in front of a super hot laser beam stream and be killed by it, but as of yet, no one has turned it into a real weapon.

The same holds true for a death ray.

Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant men (generic) to have ever walked upon this planet claimed he had invented a death ray back in the 1930s.

Tesla so-called death ray was known as teleforce, and was supposedly invented in the 1930s…. and claims that continued until his death in 1943. Sure… but you know that if it existed, the American military would have swooped in and appropriated it… and surely after 75+ years we would have seen it in action in some myriad form.

Then there was the supposed connection regarding Telsa having created and tested a death ray in 1908 Siberia over an area known as Tunguska. You can read about that HERE.

While Tesla is the most famous, inventor Edwin R. Scott of San Francisco supposedly invented a death ray that could kill a person as easily as take down an aeroplane (airplane) with ground to air accuracy. This was 1923.

Harry Grindell Matthews tried to sell the British Air Ministry a death ray in 1924 but obviously failed in his attempts to give them a working model.

And then there was Antonio Longoria who in 1934 said he had a death ray that could kill pigeons from four miles away, though I have no idea why anyone would want to do that.

The only functioning death ray I ever saw was in the movie serials and Big Little Books of the 1930s - usually revolving around Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I used to own all the Buck Rogers Big Little Books, and a few of the Flash Gordon comic books. If you were a kid in the 1930s, this was cooler than cool.
I think this is the 1934 edition. I bought all of them in the 1990s when the market hadn't caught on to these and sold them by 1999 making a very nice profit.
I still enjoy reading the Flash Gordon comics put out in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and late 1960s (see image at very top - a top quality comic book series!) and 2000s from time to time.
A Flash Gordon comic from Harvey Comics circa 1950, from the same company that would later bring us Casper, Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Little Lotta, Little Dot, Little Audrey, and Baby Huey! I have over 800 Richie Rich comics for some reason.  Okay, I just liked Richie Rich.
Of course, the best known example of a death ray in science fiction is the Star Wars Death Star I and II.
Gotta love the Death Star!
Perhaps spurred on by the fantastic science fiction of Buck and Flash, the Germans during WWII had two separate projects trying to develop a death ray… and of course the Japanese would have been remiss if they didn’t have a program, too.

The Japanese weapon was known as "Ku-go" and involved using microwaves created within a very large magnetron.

Obviously having a weapon that could take out the enemy from a safe distance away would be ideal... which is what the American came up with with their atomic weapons program.

According to a tiny news brief from the October 8, 1945 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, discusses that the Japanese were at the very least trying to create a death ray.

I'm not sure where this information comes from, but some believe that the Japanese began working on their death ray concept as early as 1939 in Noborito (登戸) is a neighborhood in Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo.

Okay, let's suppose this is all true... just how far are the Japanese supposed to have got in their quest for death ray dominance?

Well... there's a Japanese physicist named Tomonaga Shin'ichirō (surname first, 朝永 振一郎) who was a major domo in the development of quantum electrodynamics, gaining joining credit for a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965... sharing it with Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman... the latter a name you might recognize if you watch The Big Bang Theory on television.

Born in Tokyo on March 31, 1906, Tomonaga was the son of Japanese philosopher Tomonaga Sanjūrō (surname first), so it's at least easy to see where he developed his ability to think outside the proverbial box.

He went to Kyoto Imperial University in 1926. One of his under grad classmates, Yukawa Hideki (surname first, 湯川 秀樹), would also win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1949.

Anyhow, in 1931 after graduate school, Tomonaga joined Nishina Yoshio (仁科 芳雄 , surname first) and his team at the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (now known as RIKEN). He was called "the founding father of modern physics research in Japan". Nishina would later lead the efforts of Japan to develop an atomic bomb during World War II.

Then in 1937 Tomonaga worked at Leipzig University in Leipzig, Germany where he worked alongside the famous Werner Heisenberg, a major contributor to quantum mechanics (and as an alias for Walter White on the television show Breaking Bad).

But, when WWII broke out with Germany becoming the major problem starting in 1939, Tomonaga headed back to Japan. There, he completed his thesis on the study of nuclear materials and finished his doctorate at the University of Tokyo.

He was then appointed to a professorship in the Tokyo University of Education (a forerunner of Tsukuba University).

But when Japan became fully embroiled in WWII in December of 1941, Tomonaga began studying the magnetron, meson theory, and began to formulate his own super-many-time theory.

So... at least Tomonaga's research and the Japanese death ray project focus line up.

Apparently Tomonaga's team had built a magnetron measuring 20 centimeters (eight inches) in diameter with an output of 100kW.

According to someone else, that if this was the energy output, the ku-go death ray might have been able to kill a rabbit 1,000 yards (914.4 meters) away, but only if the rabbit stood still for five minutes.

But what is a magnetron?

Now called a cavity magnetron, it is a high-powered vacuum tube that generates microwaves using the interaction of a stream of electrons with a magnetic field while moving past a series of open metal cavities (cavity resonators).

Sure... but what we can determine is that this technology is now used in microwave ovens in the home... and yeah, one of those things could kill someone, as it cooks from the inside out meaning a person would boil their insides before exploding outwards.

What's brown and bubbly and knocks on the window?
A baby in a microwave.

Welcome to the stoopidist jokes kids created back in the late 1970s back when those type of jokes were making the round. Sadly 40+ years haven't dulled the memory.

The point of all this is that the Japanese did not have anything close to resembling a death ray weapon during the 1940s...

However, the United States Navy does posses its own Laser Weapon System (LaWS).

Its full name is the AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System or XN-1 LaWS, and is a directed-energy weapon - making it akin to a death ray.

The Navy installed it on the USS Poncean Austin-class amphibious transport—for field testing in 2014.

In December 2014, the United States Navy reported that the LaWS system worked perfectly against low-end asymmetric threats, and that the commander of the USS Ponce is authorized to use the system as a defensive weapon.

Take a look at the CNN video below:

WHOOPS - They blocked me... whatever...

You can go to the Wikipedia page for Laser Weapon System (HERE) and look at the second image on the right - a video that may show a better example of the laser system on the USS Ponce.

So... 70 years later, we have a working example of a death ray or as the US Navy calls it - a defensive weapon.

Sorry Tesla. Sorry Ku-go.

Andrew Joseph