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Green Code That Opens The Matrix Is Surprisingly Mundane

Simon Whiteley shares its origins

(Newser) - If you're the type who would take the blue pill and would prefer to "just wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe," stop reading. If you want to discover the truth about a mystery of The Matrix, pop the hypothetical red pill... More »

The Mystery of Japan's 'Evaporated People'

'Time' looks at the phenomenon of 'johatsu'—the 'society underneath Japan's society'

(Newser) - The Japanese have no problem working insane hours—sometimes to the point of death —but when it comes to dealing with life's other stresses, they may simply pack it all in and vanish. It's what's known as "johatsu," or "evaporated people," a... More »

Japanese Literally Work Themselves to Death

'Karoshi' demises are often from suicide, heart attack, or stroke

(Newser) - Work-life balance is the American worker's goal, but for Japanese employees, work and life may be one and the same. The Washington Post takes a look at Japan's toil-til-you-drop culture, where 12-hour days are typical and there's even a word ("karoshi") that means "death... More »

Real-Life Face/Off Fugitive Caught in Thailand

Lawyer nabbed by immigration cops who noticed something ... off

(Newser) - A Japanese lawyer who police say altered his appearance through plastic surgery to escape arrest for an alleged stock share manipulation scheme more than a decade ago has been captured, Thai police said Friday. Thailand's Immigration Bureau announced that Yasuo Tsubaki, sought by Japanese authorities for securities fraud amounting... More »

Why It's Hard to Learn Math in English

Words like "eleven" mess us up

(Newser) - When it comes to learning math, English speakers face a disadvantage that has nothing to do with the classroom environment. Research suggests that the English language simply makes it hard to talk about numbers, the Wall Street Journal reports. A key reason comes when kids reach the number 11: A... More »

'Brilliant' Babymetal Upsets 'Troo' Metalheads

Many critics love Japanese metal-pop band

(Newser) - The Japanese band Babymetal mixes headbanging with J-pop melodies and choreography in a way that "upsets the status quo"—and that's a good thing, writes Adrien Begrand at NPR . While metal fans are divided over the trio of Japanese teen girls (Suzuka Nakamoto, Yui Mizuno, and Moa... More »

4 Climbers Presumed Dead After Avalanche

Mount McKinley search for survivors impeded by snow and wind

(Newser) - Four members of a Japanese climbing team are presumed dead after an avalanche swept them off a hill on Mount McKinley. US National Park Service officials say five people were traveling as one rope team early Thursday morning as part of a Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation expedition. One team member,... More »

Typhoon Rams Japan, Heads for Fukushima

5 killed as powerful storm makes landfall

(Newser) - A powerful typhoon made landfall in Japan today, bringing winds of up to 100 miles per hour and causing floods that have killed at least five people . Typhoon Roke is on course to hit Japan's tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast, and flooding there may cause radioactive water from the Fukushima plant... More »

US Could Learn From Japanese Grace

Less pushiness, more selflessness is the solution, says Nick Kristof

(Newser) - Japan has long had an extreme dichotomy between its people and its politicians, and last week's earthquake underscored that fault line: "The Japanese government has been hapless. And the Japanese people have been magnificent, enduring impossible hardships with dignity and grace," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York ... More »

Man Streams Suicide to Web as Chat Room Eggs Him On

Japanese police get there too late

(Newser) - A Japanese man committed suicide live on the Internet this week, the Telegraph reports. The 24-year-old had been talking about his plans with members of a chat room from his apartment in the city of Sendai. Encouraged by some, he set up a webcam so he could stream it via... More »

Japan Cultivates 'Rice Farm' Bra

Grow your own

(Newser) - Japan is drawing abreast of cutting-edge green design with a bizarre "rice farm" bra that doubles as a field of dreams. The bra cups (presumably bigger than A's) double as recyclable plastic pots that can be filled with soil and rice seedlings. The wearer waters the crop with a... More »

Bill O'Reilly's New Target: Tom Hanks

Fox News host doesn't get why actor keeps saying we're racist

(Newser) - Bill O’Reilly's favorite new target: Tom Hanks. The Fox News host says the actor is unfairly claiming racism was behind our attack on Japan during World War II ... and behind the current War on Terror. The actor, while promoting his miniseries The Pacific, told Time that we “wanted... More »

Web Puts 2nd Language at Your Fingertips

Online options, from free to pricey, abound

(Newser) - The days of chanting vocabulary words in a classroom and dozing off in the language lab are fading from memory as language instruction becomes increasingly available on the Internet. Freestanding smartphone apps are one option, and more structured instruction comes at a price—and sometimes no price at all. The... More »

Balloon Parents Plead Guilty

Sentences unclear, but judge assures 'significant' monetary cost

(Newser) - The parents of “balloon boy” Falcon Heene pleaded guilty today to charges related to the hoax that sent police and rescue personnel on a wild-goose chase. Richard Heene pleaded to a felony, Mayumi Heene—a Japanese citizen who risked deportation if she had a felony on her record—to... More »

Japanese 'Bust Up Bra' an Overnight Sensation

Japanese product latest in long line of often-wacky breast solutions

(Newser) - All sorts of Japanese products, from “biscuits and beverages to rather bizarre rack rearranging rollers,” claim to give women larger or more pleasingly shaped breasts, Lee Chapman blogs for Tokyo Times. But those probably all take effort, you cry. Enter the “Sleeping Bust Up Bra,” which... More »

French Are World's Worst Tourists: Survey

Poll of 40,000 hotels ranks visitors on politeness, generosity

(Newser) - The French are the world’s worst tourists, AFP reports. A global survey asked staff at 40,000 hotels to rate tourists on categories ranging from politeness to generosity to willingness to learn local languages—and the French finished last in several categories. Japanese tourists took honors in just as... More »

Smugglers Caught Sneaking $134B in Bonds Out of Italy

(Newser) - Two Japanese citizens were detained last week after allegedly trying to take $134 billion in undeclared US bonds from Italy to Switzerland, Bloomberg reports. Both countries are investigating the incident. “Italian authorities are in the midst of the investigation, and haven’t yet confirmed the details, including whether they... More »

Hitler Memoir Gets English Translation

(Newser) - After serving as Adolph Hitler’s adoring secretary for 12 years, Christa Schroeder recounted her experiences in a 1949 memoir, Hitler in Private. With an English translation on the way, the New York Post reveals some highlights—including an account of Hitler’s doctor injecting him with hormones from bull... More »

Cat Cafes Court Lonely Japanese

Childless Japanese turn to cafes for companionship

(Newser) - Hordes of childless Japanese are flocking to Tokyo's cat cafes to cuddle the residents and savor furry companionship along with a cup of tea. So popular are the cafes that reservations are required on weekends, GlobalPost reports. Career-minded urbanites who don't have the time or space for pets, let alone... More »

Obama Speeches Teach English, Hope to Japanese

Dem's speeches good for language-learners, more inspiring than local pols'

(Newser) - The Japanese version of Amazon.com features an unlikely bestseller: the collected speeches of Barack Obama, with Japanese translation and accompanying CD, Reuters reports. Obama’s inspiring but straightforward rhetoric is perfect for teaching English in a country that hankers to learn the language. He “uses words such as... More »

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