Thursday, July 26, 2007

Announcing the Games Workshop Club for Japan

An unofficial club for arranging to play Games Workshop games in Japan.
Post what games you like to play and arrange to play with others. We will announce GW events in Japan as well!

If you are new to GW, our members can teach you how to play. If you are a veteran of
GW games then come and enjoy!

Kevin Burns

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Genetic Diversity

They tell me that there is more genetic diversity among the chimpanzees on a single hillside in Gombe than there is in all the human race, worldwide - features and skin color notwithstanding!

I think that there is a semi-instinctive urge to divide people into "us" and "them" groups - it seems to have been done by every tribe and civilization from the dawn of time. In the case of people who exist in smaller, tribal communities, the name of the tribe often simply means "the people" in their language. As though the "other" group, if their existance is known, were something - less than people. Of course, this trait is capitalized upon by our leaders when they wish their people to make war or to compete in some way . . .

I should think that living on islands would make the "us" group seem tighter and more homogeneous, and the "them" group seem farther separated from "us", and perhaps by extension, less "human".

I do think that as the world grows smaller, and we travel and meet people of other cultures, their humanity and their sameness will become more evident - and as we meet and make friends with people around the world through the internet, the world's communities will change - for the better!

My $.02 - YMMV.



Japanese often cling to the view of being unique. We Japanese can
often be heard, as if all Japanese are the same. A good friend of
mine recently commented that we are 99.9% the same genetically. In
terms of that does race even exist? Does it matter except in the
realm of diseases where certain groups of people are more prone to
sickle cell anemia and diseases like that?

My philosophy is all about bringing people together, as opposed to
emphasizing small or false differences. What do you think?

Kevin Burns

Japan and Obesity

Japan and ObeAuthor: James Kirby

Japanese food conjures up images of fish, rice, miso soup and tofu but recently fitness in the Land of the Rising Sun appears to be deteriorating. Unfortunately, an increasing number of Japanese are adopting unhealthy eating patterns and eating like Sumo wrestlers. The Japanese used to eat food high in protein, but over the past few decades there has been a shift towards eating more animal fat, and western fast food. Experts warn that Japanese children are leading increasingly sedentary lives, and foregoing tofu for burgers and instant noodles.

The Japanese are traditionally known for their restraint: their old adage is Hara Hachi bunme or “stop eating when your’re 80% full” . This restraint has led to it being the country that has had the world’s longest life expectancy: 86 years for women, 79 for men. The new trend of eating could one day jeopardize Japan's status as the home of the world's longest-living population. If eating habits change, life expectancy will shorten and this has already been made clear. According to the WHO, globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese. Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. The key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.

While Japanese waistlines have a long way to go before they start to overtaking the Americans: about 24% of people aged 15 and over are considered overweight, compared with 65% in th US, this change in eating patterns has led to an alarming rise in obesity. As the country leaves behind traditional food habits people in all age groups have grown heavier in the past two decades. The highest rate is among men in their 40s: 34 percent were overweight in 2003, up from 23 percent in 1980, according to the National Health and Nutrition Survey. While older women are growing fatter, younger fashion-conscious women tend to be underweight. Among children, 8 percent were obese or at risk of obesity in 2004, compared with fewer than 6 percent in 1980. Diabetes is a leading concern. While the number of deaths from the disease has fallen in the past decade, more than 2 million people are being treated for it -- an increase of about 53 percent from 15 years ago.The number treated for high blood pressure has also grown about 9 percent in the past 10 years, the Health Ministry says.

People in the Far East want to get anything American -- including all the fast food chains, With their adoption of the Western diet, their plant food intake tends to go down while fat and animal protein intake has gone up.This rise should serve as a wake-up call for Americans and the Japanese to rediscover what helped make Japan lean and healthy in the first place. The Japanese government have released a new nutrition chart recently that encourages eating more carbohydrates -- such as rice -- and vegetables as main sources of energy, while cutting down on meat to reduce the intake of fat. The chart specifically targets overweight men, singles, and those raising children. The government has set aside about 72 million yen in the 2006-2007 budget to tackle child heft. The Health Ministry also plans to research the link between parents' lifestyle and overweight children, and support selected towns to promote healthier eating habits.

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About the Author:

A look at the changing face of Japanese food culture and an increase in childhood obesity. Firstmed is the leading online male impotence clinic in the UK and specialises in genuine, prescription Viagra, and other leading erectile dysfunction medications.

Work Abroad In Japan: Working At An Eikaiwa

James Allen

If you do a search on all the major eikaiwa - chain English cram-school companies, you'll find their websites, and then you'll find endless websites and forums totally SLAMMING them. It seems like every English teacher in Japan hates those guys. But should you pay attention?

Actually, take everything you read with a grain of salt. That goes for the websites, but also the haters too. I worked for an eikaiwa a long time ago, and I have some friends who work for them. I want to give you a little run down, considering the pros and cons, which I hope will help you make an informed decision.

I worked for one of the more famous one - which I won't name here. (But it shares the same name as a famous model of Chevy car from the 70's). I can't totally hate them, because they hired me and set me up in Japan. I also got paid pretty well, and got lots of experience teaching in a short period of time, much more experience than if I'd gotten an education degree back in the States. So, if you look at it from a totally utilitarian standpoint, those big eikaiwas will get you here and get you set up. When people back home say they want to teach in Japan, I always say it's a good way to get over here.

Basically, at an eikaiwa, you will teach 6-8 lessons a day (depending on the company). You will have tiny 10-15 minute breaks between lessons, but you have to use that time to write evaluations and get the next lessons ready. I don't know about other schools, but mine had it streamlined so that you didn't really have to do much evaluation or preparation. The hours are usually afternoon or evening, which is great if you're a night person.

Eight lessons a day is ridiculous, but you get used to it. It's amazing how quickly you get used to it. If I had to go and do eight lessons tomorrow, I probably couldn't do it, but when I was working for that cram-school I never even felt it.

It's tough, but on the positive side, you get tons of teaching experience. Not only do you learn about students, you also learn what kinds of activities and lessons work and don't work. I use that knowledge all the time to this day.

Now that I teach on my own and prepare all my own lessons and do all my own scheduling, I kind of appreciate that the school I worked for did all that for me. At those big companies, you just walk in, do your lessons, and walk out. You never have to take anything home with you, or worry about what you're going to teach the next day.

On the down side, these schools often use lousy teaching materials and have little concern for students' progress. In spite of that, if you are a good teacher, you can make the lessons valuable for the students. You can still care about students, even if the company doesn't.

At the end of the day, these companies are interested in MAKING MONEY, and little else. If you really want to be a teacher, this can be depressing. The lessons, the teachers, the students, the staff, are all interchangeable. This is why it's called "fast food English." For me, eventually this became a really negative environment and that's one of the reasons why I finally left.

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About the Author:

If you teach abroad at a large chain English cram school like I did, try to get the most out of it you can. Get ideas, learn about teaching, and have fun. If you think something's not right, figure out why, and keep that in mind for future English teaching jobs. Then, when you're ready, you can learn about decent non-eikaiwa positions at sites like: