Thursday, March 10, 2016

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Should Teachers Carry Concealed Hand Guns?

From a gun professional: On teachers carrying concealed weapons:

"The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again." (Here's the full article.)

Only in a world where everyone has a gun for killing others--does this kind of logic even work. I'm not denying guns work as defensive tools. But they ARE designed to be LETHAL. 

Even trained professionals have accidents, from time to time. So nobody can tell me it's a good idea to carry hand guns (concealed or not) where children are involved. Because it's NEVER a good idea.

Limit the guns to almost nill, however, and this logic is revealed to be somewhat questionable. Pro gun activists might point out how seemingly impossible it would be to get rid of all the guns. I'm not disagreeing. It is a seemingly impossible task. But consider this: The gun problem is this magnitude because we MADE it this MAGNITUDE.

Saying that it is impossible is just an excuse to keep guns. Let's get rid of the excess. We don't need semi-automatics. Heck, civilians don't need machine guns or anything of that caliber (pun not intended). More guns isn't going to help fix anything.

Only in an imperfect scenario with an already established GUN PROBLEM does strategy like "more guns" trump basic logic.

Moreover, only when you treat schools like WAR ZONES does this sort of thing make any kind of sense.

But we're not talking about the Gaza Strip here. We're talking about U.S. classrooms.

Do you see the problem here?

Here's my logic: 

"The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is to not have any mass shooters."

The question remains: is this even possible?

When we have half of the other modernized countries on the planet that can pull off little to no shooting, and other related gun crime, then you had better bet your bottom dollar that it's possible.

Does it mean it will be easy? No. Will it be economical? Not likely. But possible? Yes.

The question is, what ware you willing to do to fix this problem?

If the answer is more guns--then I'm sorry, all you've done is light another match in the middle of the worst forest fire in recorded history. That's not logical. That's suicide.

Meanwhile, from one of my dear friends who is a teacher like me, in response to the recent news about the Virginia Bill which would order teachers to carry concealed firearms:

"When this day comes I will leave the field of education. Fighting guns with guns is not the answer."

So what the gun professionals are saying is: In order to have safer schools you need to have teachers who carry guns, because we have a gun problem.

That's the opposite of logical. That's stupidity.

While I'm sure some teachers agree, most of them, most of the teachers I've talked with at any rate, share my friend's sentiment.

The day teachers and educators of children are required to carry guns is the day our schools become war zones, and smart teachers everywhere will simply get out. Quit. We'll walk out of the schools and go find other jobs. Safer jobs. It's also the day that home schooling becomes a much better alternative to public schooling.

So the gun professionals aren't providing any viable solution that fixes the problem. They are merely adding fuel to the flame, and potentially, going to ruin our entire educational system in the process.

Do their methods work? Yes. I'm not denying that. But what they seem to be overlooking is the context. Their methods are designed for war zone type scenarios. They are bringing these scenarios to the schools and into the classrooms. 

While good gun strategies will work against those who use guns, what I'm saying is minus the guns we wouldn't need such strategies in the first place.

What we need now is better policies. Not necessarily more gun laws--there are already regulations galore--what I am saying is--we need BETTER POLICIES.

So instead of using tax payer dollars to arm teachers with guns, many of whom would walk right out if they were ever asked to do such a thing, we should be using tax payer dollars to fund better mental health care, psyche screening, and counselling for children, teachers, and schools.

Let's begin by addressing the root of the problem, which is mental health. The guns debate is just the icing on the cake of a much richer, much darker, issue. Let's address the violence and the violent tendencies of Americans. Let's fund the programs and professionals to help heal peoples' minds before we start handing out more guns.

Then, at least, we won't have teachers threatening to quit en masse because you forced them to carry a gun into a classroom. All that teachers packing guns ensures is that the ticking time bomb is just a few ticks away from some stressed out teacher breaking and then killing their whole class and then themselves. When teachers begin to carry guns, this scenario is INEVITABLE. It's only a matter of time.

The classroom is the LAST PLACE ON EARTH you should ever have to see the presence of a gun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun Control and on Other Gun Related Problems

For more gun related statistics please visit Gun

This is bound to be a politically charged topic, considering recent events. That said, this is more of an opinion piece than an analysis, so please do not take everything I say as ipse dixit.

Growing up my childhood imagination was forged, in part, by the visionary genius of Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek encapsulated his humanist message. An optimistic message in which he envisioned a future where humans had worked together to achieve everlasting world peace.

The universe, however, is not always such a peaceful place. Nor is there reason to be so optimistic. And so, even Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock still needed guns. Laser guns.

Only in a perfect world could we exist without guns. Yet we live in a world that is far from perfect. Just turn on the news, and what constitutes newsworthy is usual the worst examples of human behavior, and human failing, you'll probably ever see. It is the furthest thing away from that optimistic future vision of Gene Roddenberry. 

Even so, we must not shirk away from addressing these very real problems and facing these very real questions.

I am for gun control. Ever since the The Seattle Jewish Federation shooting in 2006, where the crazed gunman Naveed Afzal Haq shot six people, I have had my eyes wide open to the effects of gun related crime. Maybe it was the fact that I heard the shots a few blocks down the street from my hotel. The pops sounded like firecrackers going off. At first, I thought perhaps some kind of festival was underway, but the flood of squad cars and wailing sirens which rushed passed me gave me the first clues that something a lot more tragic had transpired.

A couple days later I would finish orientation for Jet Programme and head to Japan. With the shooting fresh in my mind, I reveled at how Japan, a country smaller than California with the population of half of the entire U.S., was so peaceful. On top of this, there wasn't a gun in sight. Most likely because, in Japan, owning firearms is illegal in most circumstances. 

[Coincidentally, the Yakuza--Japan's version of the mafia--do acquire illegal guns. But they usually only use them on each other. The public is still relatively safe--so I am sorry if I don't buy the excuse that if we had less guns the bad guys would use them more to commit violent crimes. The reason the Yakuza limit their gun activity is because it draws way too much attention to them. But the cultures are different. Maybe Americans are less honorable. Maybe American criminals would take over. Maybe. I tend not to be so pessimistic  Even criminals want something more than just your wallet. So maybe the bad guys would get all the guns and take over is simply a bit of hyperbole? After all, we'd still have law enforcement agencies and the military to protect us. Let's give them some credit.]

In Japan, gun related deaths (including murder, suicide, accidental) equate to less than 0.02% of 100,000 persons in the 120 million population. Additionally, this is the TOTAL tallied percentage since 1998 to the present! It's not even a big enough number to get it to appear on a simple bar graph. That's how minuscule gun related deaths are in Japan.

The same is true of Denmark and Sweden.

The same is true of Singapore and Hong Kong.

This is in stark contrast to the near 10% per 100,000 gun death rate in the U.S. every year.

All things being equal, it would take Japan 50 years of non-stop gun crime to match the same deaths as the U.S. for just one year. (Actually, it would be more like 500 years to account for the decade long gap of no gun violence in Japan, but never mind--the point stands.)

After a little research the sheer statistics begin to jump out at you. It's actually quite simple math. The chart at the top shows that places with more guns have more gun crime. This statistic hold across the board.

Little to no guns = little to no gun related deaths/crimes. More guns = more gun related deaths/crimes. Even more guns, then, even more gun related deaths and crimes. This is called a trend, and the trend is always the same. There are always exceptions to every rule however, but there aren't enough counter examples to make any valid argument against the statistical trend of an increase in guns directly relates to an increase in gun crime.

It is that simple, at least statistically speaking. 

Don't let anybody's gun-cultist-dogmatic-second-amendment proclamations convince you otherwise. Guns are bad news, no matter how you want to tally it.

But gun control lobbyists must be reasonable here. It's not simply about sheer statistics. Statistics point to frequencies which allow us to make predictions based on the change of frequencies of events. Strictly speaking, the statistics suggests it is always better to have less guns. But this is different than having no guns at all. America is a gun culture, so taking the guns away is not a realistic option. Limiting them with strict policies which limit their proliferation, and the types of guns which would make it into the hands of the public, is a wise step toward reversing the trend of gun crime. Baby steps, as they say.

Let's be careful though, statistics can sometimes be interpreted incorrectly too. A good example of this, luckily, bolsters the gun control argument. Those who cite a steady (statistical) decrease in gun related deaths in the U.S. often fail to cite the steady (statistical) increase of gun related attacks, which have increased a whopping 50% from 2001 to 2011. Gun crime is on a statistical increase in the U.S. 

It's only the fact that modern medicine and excellent, fast responding, medical care can be provided that gun deaths are preventable. 

So why all the gun crime?

What we need to realize, however, is there are other factors at play here. In a recent OP piece, Journalist Dan Carlin writes:

People want to focus on the guns as the problem, but we have a culture in the U.S. where guns are ingrained and where they have been so for centuries. The use of them has seeped into us. It is the desire to use them that's different. To think the guns themselves are the problem we would have to believe that the Canadians, Europeans and others with lower homicide levels all would like to kill each other at our rates...they just lack the guns to make their wishes a reality. That's ridiculous. The truth is that these other societies don't have as much murderous intent as Americans. Why not?

There is a oft ignored psychological component to gun crime. To simply blame it on the access one has to weapons of lethal destruction is simplifying things too much and neglects to look at the lethal intentions of a disturbed mind--and what caused that poor mind to become disturbed in the first place.

As Carlin points out, although we may not like  the sound of it, Americans are much more prone to violence. Not all Americans, mind you, but a very specific group (or mentality) certainly are.

This is made even clearer when you compare non-gun related crimes, such as rape (the most under reported of crimes). Again, to compare to Japan (because of population and economic similarities) in 2005 there were over 95,000 rapes reported in the U.S. whereas there were barely 2,000 reported in Japan. Even if we doubled Japan's population to match it with the U.S., there would still only be roughly 4,000 reported cases of rape compared to the nearly 100,000 in the U.S. for the same year.

What does that say about our country? 

What it says is, Carlin isn't wrong. Americans are much more violent than other nations. Knowing this, is it really wise to allow unhindered access to firearms and lax policies which overlook this fact? Perhaps, we might want to begin looking into why these violent tendencies inflict Americans more than other countries and cultures. What is it about being American which makes us more prone to violent acts?

All the more reason, perhaps, to implement stricter gun policies such as screening for mental illness by imposing mandatory psyche evaluations for all gun owners.

In reality, taking away the guns from Americans is an impossible endeavor. It's simply unrealistic. It would be a logistics nightmare. How do you track over 170 million guns? Tracking them all down and taking them away would be even more futile. Half the people would use those guns against you screaming the second amendment at the top of their fanatic gun-cultist lungs. The more rational folks would hide them away. Take the guns away? It's just not gonna happen.

The fact of the matter is, we're stuck with a gun problem. So the question is, how do we address this problem? When I talk about gun control, I am thinking of policies which would help prevent future gun related deaths.

I have some basic, rudimentary, ideas about how we could proceed though. Such as imprinting micro bar-codes on all ammunition to track the sale and trafficking of illegal firearms. It would also help manufactures tag defective or outmoded batches of ammunition and make it easier for recalls.

I am for the idea of placing microchips into guns which would upload number of shots fired in real-time to police agencies. The chips could serve a dual purpose by also being a GPS tracker. So, for example, if a gun fired more than once in a downtown area, or at a school, then this would alert the authorities instantly. Then, using the GPS, they could quickly locate and apprehend the shooter before the 911 calls started flooding in.

I am for mandatory psyche evaluations for all gun purchases, no exceptions. Additionally, I would like to see an annual to bi-annual mental health check up for all gun owners, no exceptions. If you're required to take a drug test just to receive food stamps, I think it's a fair compromise to ask that you get a psyche evaluation in order to purchase a gun. 

One of the arguments which pro gun activists love to use is that most people who own guns do not have mental problems, so let them keep their guns. This is such a bad, horribly flawed, not to mention fallacious argument. Human behavior and mental stability is not a fixed thing. Various factors can cause various people to experience a psychological break. Crimes of passion are often such events. Suicides are another key example.

The idea here is that there be readily available health care would enable us to better catch and prevent future psychological breaks of violent rage from doing too much damage. Especially if we can take their guns away before they go off the deep end, so to speak. If the person, for whatever reason, fails the psyche test, they will be under a court order to hand over all their weapons until the appropriate time that they can get the proper help. 

Do we really want the crazies with itchy trigger fingers and an axe to grind with society to have access to guns?

Of course, not. The real question is, how does one fund all this? Easy. Tax guns. Tax them lots.

If people want their weapons that badly, they should be prepared to pay for my safety and the safety of everyone who would rather not ever see a gun in their life. Life is to short to be spending any portion of it staring down the barrel of a gun.

Taxing guns seems fair though. After all, smokers had to do the same when cigarettes turned out to be lethal. Tobacco got taxed so heavily that people were sure it would tank the tobacco industry. But it's stronger than ever. People can still suck down a cancer stick, or a carton of them, and never bat an eye at the injustice of taxing cigarettes to death. For the cigarette addict, it's till death do them part.

So Tax guns just as heavily, I say. Give people less of an incentive to go out and Willy Nilly buy one. Make it harder to own one. Make it harder yet to keep owning one.

Meanwhile, those who still want, or need, a gun can still have access to them. 

(UPDATE) My friend informed me that wildlife agencies who use freelance hunters to help quell pesky overpopulation problems of animals which disrupt the ecosystem would be unfairly burdened by increased gun related taxes. In such cases special permits could be granted and these folks could enjoy a discount on their required gun purchases. Simply put, there are ways to work around minor issues like this while at the same time addressing the bigger issues.

I do not deny there are areas in the U.S. where a robber will just kick in your door, walk into your home, hit you upside the head with a baseball bat and take whatever they want from you. Hey, if you need a gun to, as my friend says, protect your person from violent morons, then, I totally get that. It's America, after all. The Wild Wild West never truly left the American identity.

But if cigarette taxes can help aid cancer research, why couldn't gun taxes aid gun control policies which make sense?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where is Everybody? A New Approach to the Fermi Paradox

"Where is everybody?" is the question the physicist Enrico Fermi made to his colleagues in 1950.

The Fermi paradox (or Fermi's paradox) is an observation regarding the scale of the universe and probability that intelligent life should arise in the universe prolifically given the age and size of the universe yet, oddly enough, the lack of extraterrestrial evidence contradicts the statistical predictions of abundant intelligent life. Hence the paradox.

For example, if we crunch the raw numbers, there are an estimated 200–400 billion (2–4 ×1011) stars in the Milky Way. There are approximately 70 sextillion (7×1022) stars in the visible universe. That's like a sagan multiplied by a sagan squared, a number so ludicrously large that we can't even begin to wrap our minds around it.

Here's the thing though, even if intelligent life is capable of occurring on only a fraction of a percentage of life sustaining planets around these stars, simple probability suggests there should still be a great number of extraterrestrial civilizations extant in the Milky Way galaxy.

Even so, when we look up at the evening sky with our powerful telescopes, we see nothing to reflect this prediction of abundant life let alone signs of intelligence proliferating our universe.  This very realization led Fermi to his famous question, "Where is everybody?"

With an observable universe (that is the stars, planets, and galaxies within our purview) of 46 billion light years, it stems to reason that it is a statistical anomaly that we haven't yet detected any signs of intelligent life. No contact with Bracewell probes and no traces of any Von Neumann probes either, although the universe is old enough for the statistical probability of the existence of such devices.

In fact, like the episode of Star Trek the Next Generation called "The Inner Light" where Captain Piccard has an encounter with a Bracewell probe which relays to him the information of an extinct civilization, we should have at least contacted a probe containing information of, at the least, a bygone civilization. But still nothing. 

Personally, I find the question fascinating, as well as the implications. The implications being, either intelligent life is much rarer than we realize, or that something is fundamentally wrong with our observations and subsequent calculations. Then again, it could be both these considerations. It's really hard to say, since our data is extremely limited.

However, I am inclined to think the solution lies somewhere in realizing our limitations. 

Allow me to explain it another way. Because our telescopes can only view the ancient past of other galaxies, let alone our own galaxy, and only within a 93 billion light year sized sphere, it stems to reason we are experiencing an optical limitation. 

Our eyesight into the universe is extremely far-sighted. It stems to reason we need to devise a bi-focal type of lens--and by lens I mean technology--which can work in tandumn with other technologies to allow our multiple images of the universe to converge showing us both the ancient past of space-time as well as the more recent, or current, state of the universe.

The telescope is an invention of the 17th century, and as such it is rather difficult to get an accurate image of the universe as it currently is. The light a telescope detects when observing the universe is from the ancient past, the beginning of the universe. Not the present. The only way to see "further" beyond the horizon of sight would be to magnify past the point of the singularity. This is impossible using devices like telescopes--or even probes--since we are not capable of faster than light travel. In fact, we may never be able to break the light speed barrier, so theoretical physicists must brainstorm about new ways in which to get past this cosmic sized hurdle.

So, as we well know, telescopes are inadequate devices to see the universe as it is currently developing right now due to the physical laws such as the speed of light, a limiting factor which dictates the speed at which information can travel.

So we cannot see those distant galaxies as they are but only as they were billions of years ago. There is no method of "seeing" them as they are now by using age old technology like a telescope.

One of the problems with the Fermi paradox, as I see it, is that it views the question "Where is everybody" as an equivalent to "Why haven't we seen anybody?" The Fermi paradox is assuming we are still thinking in terms of what we can see using telescopes and radio-waves, both ancient technologies as of the present.

Could such a thing as a clunky set of lenses and a big tube of metal wrapped around them see far enough into the universe to detect E.T.? It's not out of the realm of possibility, but it's not very likely either. Not unless E.T. was standing on our doorstep knocking on the door asking for us to let him in--but then there would be no paradox. It's precisely because E.T. is missing that we must heed Fermi's paradox and seriously consider what it is trying to tell us.

Radio-waves  as a means of sending information between star systems are also highly inconvenient. The expanse of space and the time it takes for radio-waves to travel is simply far too great to make intergalactic communication efficient, which is why things like Bracewell probes, Von Neumann probes, or subspace (also called hyperspace) relay stations were postulated in the first place. 

But these too rely on the same outmoded appeal to ancient forms of technology. In addressing the Fermi paradox I firmly believe we have to realize an upgrade in our technology as well as our thinking is necessary if we are ever to solve this riddle.

Although I fancy myself a science-fiction writer, and not a scientist, I think one such answer might be found via the realm of quantum mechanics, namely the area known as quantum entanglement.

Recently, scientists have figured out a way to create space-time crystals. They also have postulated how to give the crystals different spins. Instead of utilizing resource costly things like Bracewell and Von Neumann probes, or the seemingly impossible attempt to create man-made wormholes like we see in science-fiction shows like Stargate, I speculate that some brilliant future scientist(s) will figure out a way to create binary messages using the spins they give to space-time crystals, and then using quantum entanglement they will create messages which will be capable of populating all regions of the universe (a nice feature of quantum mechanics which we could exploit).

In fact, one might assume that other intelligent alien civilizations have already done so, and the messages are out there waiting for us to discover them, much like how we discovered the cosmic background radiation of the universe. 

We just have to look harder, not look further. That's the key to unraveling the Fermi paradox.

Using quantum entanglement in this way, to bypass optical limitations  would effectively allow us to detect messages, both past and present, which may be permeating all of space and time this very instant.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Evolution of the Book: From Ink to Digital Ink

It is strange to me that there is a still this stigma regarding the general acceptance of an e-book as anything other than what it is--a book. To some people, if it doesn't contain paper in-between two glossy covers, it can't possibly be considered a book. 

Those reluctant to switch over to a digital reading platform often cite their fondness of the tactile sensation of holding on to a paper book--as if that's a "reason" for dismissing digital e-books. Others cite that they want to support the "traditional" publishing industry. Support them doing what? Not publishing digital books?

Because, it seems to me, as the market place changes and upgrades, they're simply going to have to get with the times. I support a publishing industry that can adapt to the technology of the era. After all, the same happened with the invention of the publishing press which gave rise to mass market books in the first place. If the publishing industry is incapable of adapting the technology, then maybe it deserves to die out. So I don't actually get what people are supporting when they use that excuse, except to say, it's just an excuse not to have to buy an e-reader.

In fact, it seems the big publishers are slow to make the digital switch over too, although many have and will continue to do so. University presses are even more reluctant to make the switch-over it seems. But I don't see why. We're not dealing with a different medium here. It's just a different type of book.

There are paperback books. There are hardcover books. And now there are digital books.

It's as simple as that.

The fear that the publishing industry is going to disappear and vanish forever if you don't cut down trees and use up all the paper is an illogical one. The publishing industry will survive, just wait and see. But how will it survive? By publishing e-books.

The controversy isn't so much about the technology itself, but the way in which the technology changes the publishing landscape.

It is the ease at which one can publish a digital book, and set their own price, that makes it easy for Indy authors to get their work out there and take a huge chunk of the landscape away from the traditional publishers. E-books and digital self-publishing changes the business landscape--the dynamic in which the traditional publishers used to do business now has completely been overtaken by the rabidly growing e-book market.

It means the traditional publisher will have to take the Indy market seriously, thanks in part to the prominence of e-books (and the push by and their excellent Kindle e-reader which in turn elevated the self-publishing industry thereby allowing authors like me who want to bypass all the politics to do so and get on with what we love doing most--writing).

The digital self-publishing Indy market is now the traditional publishing houses main competition, whether they like it or not. helped to realize this, and there is no changing it, as has all the books.

Literally. They have them... all. And they offer them in digital format too. This has forced companies like Barnes & Noble to compete by creating their own e-reader called the Nook. A fine device in itself. And now B& offers a digital self-publishing service like Amazon's KDP, called PubIt!

Distributors, like Amazon and B&N, now control the type of books which get made instead of the publishers, but this makes more sense to me, since the distributors are often more in touch with who is buying books and what type. 

So what does this all mean? It means companies like did some major landscaping, and now the terrain is a little different, and some people feel out of their depth with the unfamiliarity of it all. But I found that just by buying a Kindle and familiarizing myself with it, that sense of unfamiliarity quickly turns into a sense of familiarity. The book isn't dying off--its simply evolving.

The sooner publishers realize this fact and the sooner they start respecting Indy writers, and it seems many are moving in that direction, and the sooner we can stop whining about the demise of the book.

The book is here to stay. It's just bound by megabytes and digital displays instead of paper and glue. Welcome to the future, now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Daughter of Sol: A Science Fiction Novel

I have just begun writing my science fiction space opera series called Daughter of Sol.

It will be a couple years off yet before completion, as this is the most ambitious fiction novel I have ever begun. I want the science to be believable even as it is largely an intergalactic fairy-tale. It's the culmination of my life long love for science fiction and my passion for theoretical physics coming together under one collective umbrella of my imagination.

I have created a mock-up "teaser" cover, which was intended only as a sort of promotional gimmick but has steadily been growing on me. I may try to snag the rights to the background image as I am considering using it for the real novel. 

The background space art comes from the talented folks over at GT Graphic Design and Photography. Check them out if you get a chance!

All this, however, just to explain why I haven't been blogging as much recently. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Embracing Technological Change: A Cautionary tale form Japan

I apologize up front if this sounds like a gripe. It sort of is. But then again, perhaps it's more of a cautionary tale.

You see, I've lived in Japan for over seven years now, soon to be going on my eighth, and after just a brief couple more years I'll have been here a decade! Wow, time really flies when you get swept up in the hustle and bustle of life's current.

I have constantly had to battle a strange phenomenon here in Japan. It is the divide of technological know-how and actual access to technology.

In my experience, Japanese people are on the low end of technological know-how and understanding, which is sort of paradoxical since we all realize Japan is always on the cutting edge of technology.

And this is true. But only partially true.

Japanese firms, corporations, and technology companies are on the cutting edge, because ever since Japan's post war restructuring they have had the jump-start on being able to produce such new technologies. Thus the private sector of business excels at generating new technologies for the consumers, and--to a large extent--it is what drives the Japanese economy.

Meanwhile, for how much technology they have at their fingertips, your average Japanese citizen is way behind on the learning curve when it comes to new technology.

Although Japan had DVD technology at the same time as the U.S., DVD media did not actually permeate mainstream culture until half a decade after Uncle Sam adopted it as a standard for digital media storage.

The same problem can be seen today when looking as SD card technology, which is, ONLY now (as of 2012), beginning to become affordable because it's breaking into the Japanese commercial market. Even just two years ago a high end 32 Gig SD memory card would set you back $200 in Japan. Today you can get the same for about $80.

But even so, Japan still sells the SD cards at a premium. Why? Because there's not as much demand for them. They aren't part of any kind of standard. A quick search shows me that a Sandisk Extreme Pro. 32gig which loads 95mb/s is still approximately $20 more in Japan than in the U.S.

I find this peculiar, because Japan has more SD cards floating around in digital cameras and mobile phones than any other country on the planet, yet when it comes to simple memory storage, it's not even thought of as a viable option.

Likewise, I sense that Japanese people have a general reluctance to adopt a new technology.

I have my theories.

Much of Japan is a graying nation. Elderly people often have a harder time keeping up with the lighting fast pace of ever changing technologies as we move toward the Singularity. Additionally, there is the generation gap between those who grew up with the technology flow, and those who did not. For whatever reason, it's this general reluctance which makes them slow to the up take.

Sadly, this reluctance to adopt new technologies and adapt along with it increases the more rural you go (geographically speaking). But this is strange to me for a different reason, there really is no such thing as "rural Japan." Even the most remote village is just an hours drive before you find yourself in the middle of a thriving city. At the same time, thriving cities are only a short two hour hop on the bullet-train to a mega-city like Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka.

In other words, there is no real geographical barrier preventing new ideas or new technologies from permeating all of Japan. Except for the attitude, nothing should be preventing Japanese people from trailing the technology curve like the tail of a comet trails its body.

Let me paint you a picture of how bad it really is out here in "rural Japan."

I work in the Japanese education system (privately contracted). My schools, as well as my board of education, are equipped with decade old IMBs or NECs twice refurbished.

Some of them still even have floppy disk drives! I kid you not.

Meanwhile, they have maxed out the machines specs so they will be able to run Windows XP. Not Vista, mind you. Not Windows 7. Not even Windows 8. We're talking a decade old software here. It is matched by the fact that most of these computers are running MS Office 2003. More decade old software.

This is true for nearly ALL of "rural Japan."

Only the city schools, usually vocational high schools and colleges, have updated to the latest generation of software. One of the local universities of technology in Kumamoto, the town I live, bought ALL their educational staff third gen iPads to use in the class. I remember it well, because it made the front page of the city newspaper. But that's here in the "big" ole city. Not out there, you know, in the rest of Japan.

I once asked my BOE why they simply didn't buy a couple new computers for all the schools or obtain refurbished computers which are capable of handling the latest gen software. I was told that is was because they simply didn't have the budget for it.

No money. Okay, I get it. All schools have such financial woes--even in Japan.

That spring, my BOE bought 52 inch. full 1080 capable HD tvs (SHARP Aquos) for the schools. They didn't buy just one television, though. They bought one for every single classroom at every JHS and Elementary school! That's nearly two dozen HD televisions!

Granted, the cost of a single HD television has dropped considerably in the last few years, but to claim they don't have money for some new computers or software, but then turn around and purchase nearly two dozen $600 televisions is, well, kind of suspect.

If they didn't have any money, where did all of it come from when they needed to buy new televisions?

Ah, that's just it though. It's not about the desire to upgrade, but the necessity. This television buying splurge, which has been seen throughout Japan, largely has to do with Japan's sudden conversion to digital television only. Analog ceases to function.

But that was a forced change. If the television companies and the government hadn't enforced the change, well, people would still be using the old tech.

My confusion comes from the fact that they blew their entire budgets on buying TVs. Why not by just a dozen TVs and then spend the other half on a dozen new computers with the latest software?

In today's age, you can get a nifty laptop for $600.

My guess is simply this, this general technological disinterest, which is rooted within much of Japan, is to blame. As far as I can tell, nobody sees a need for updating the computer lab or the teachers computers. My fear is that Japan is only going to make the upgrade when the technology leaps so far ahead that the old tech becomes outmoded, like the whole digital TV thing.

I find this a frightening prospect. Being forced to change, by necessity, can never be easy. Waiting for it to happen is unwise. My hope is that in the future Japan will phase out their old technology gradually, while adopting and adapting to the new technology. Sometimes you have to paddle a little bit to ride the wave, but once you get on top of it, it's smooth surfing.

What Japan seems to be doing, however, is the opposite. They are paddling out to sea and are facing down an ever growing tsunami. Let's hope the worst doesn't happen. Japan, after all, has all the technology. It would be quite ironic if its greatest obstacle to come in decades was due to its lack of interest in keeping up with technology.