Japan suicides rise as economic impact of coronavirus hits home

(www.japantimes.co.jp)

The number of suicides in Japan rose in October for the fourth month in a row to the highest level in more than five years, data showed Tuesday, a trend activists have blamed on the economic impact of the coronavirus, on women in particular. […] According to preliminary police data, the total number of suicides for October was 2,153, an increase of more than 300 from the previous month and the highest monthly tally since May 2015.

About 70 people every day. Mind you, these are the known cases. Some people are not discovered for months.

Through the ages in Japan, suicide has been seen as a way to avoid shame or dishonor.

That’s not the driving force behind a lot of the suicides lately. People are raised to “not be a burden unto others”. Asking for help from friends and family is perceived as being a burden. For many people, this would be worse than death. Once you are independent, you are expected to remain as such.

For many years getting psychological help was stigmatized, and Japan has the grim distinction of the highest suicide rate among G7 countries.

It is still stigmatized. Seeing a psychologist is a “sign of weakness” and “poor upbringing”, as it means you don’t have it all figured out just yet … which I agree is absurd.

Microsoft engineer gets nine years for stealing $10M from Microsoft

(arstechnica.com)

A former Microsoft software engineer from Ukraine has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $10 million in store credit from Microsoft's online store. […] The software automatically prevented shipment of physical products to testers like Kvashuk. But in a crucial oversight, it didn't block the purchase of virtual gift cards. So the 26-year-old Kvashuk discovered that he could use his test account to buy real store credit and then use the credit to buy real products.

At first, Kvashuk bought an Office subscription and a couple of graphics cards. But when no one objected to those small purchases, he grew much bolder. In late 2017 and early 2018, he stole millions of dollars worth of Microsoft store credit and resold it online for bitcoin, which he then cashed out using Coinbase.

Accountants are usually pretty good at spotting irregularities. It was only a matter of time, but to grab millions? Jeez … 🙄

Spotify's ad tech is coming to third-party podcasts

(www.engadget.com)

[Spotify] has acquired podcast platform heavyweight Megaphone with the aim of making Spotify’s ad insertion tech available to third-party podcast publishers “for the first time.” If publishers want it, they’ll have the option of monetizing their podcasts through Spotify (complete with tracking) instead of having to negotiate their own sponsorships.

This could be good news for podcast publishers that might have otherwise struggled to make a profit from their shows. However, it could also lock them in. They may be less likely to distribute podcasts through rivals like Apple if they aren’t certain they can get ads on those platforms.

Money, money, money, money. Oh, and tracking. Gotta have tracking 🙄

Coffee may help with obsessive compulsive cleaning

(www.healthing.ca)

Researchers from the University of Jerusalem found a cup of joe was effective at reducing intrusive thoughts and decreasing compulsive behaviour in germaphobes.

If this is even half true, then I know some people who should pick up the habit …

Company made to change name that could be used for website hacks

(www.engadget.com)

The initial name, ““><SCRIPT SRC=HTTPS://MJT.XSS.HT> LTD,” risked confusing sites that didn’t handle the HTML formatting properly. They would think the company name was blank and run a script from the troubleshooting site XSS Hunter. It’s an innocuous script that would simply have put up a warning, but Companies House wasn’t willing to take any chances. […] The consultant has since changed his business name to “THAT COMPANY WHOSE NAME USED TO CONTAIN HTML SCRIPT TAGS LTD.”

Has XKCD taught us nothing? 🙄

Spotify hints at subscription podcast service

(www.theverge.com)

Spotify appears to be interested in launching a subscription podcast service that would offer access to original shows or exclusive episodes for a monthly fee. The potential service was described in a survey sent out through Spotify’s app, which was reported on by Andrew Wallenstein, president of Variety’s Intelligence Platform.

The survey describes at least four possible subscription podcast plans, ranging from $3 to $8 per month. The cheapest plan would include “access to exclusive interviews and episodes,” but would still include ads. The most expensive plan would include access to “high quality original content,” early access to some episodes, and no platform-inserted ads. None of these plans would include access to Spotify’s premium music subscription.

So, after a few years of buying creators and putting that content behind a firewall to encourage signups, they’re considering subscriptions that focus only on this once open medium?

Maybe Spotify can consider renaming these shows from podcasts to “spotcasts” or something equally asinine.

Tokyo Olympics organizers call time on lavish IOC hospitality

(www.japantimes.co.jp)

“The aristocratic behaviors by the IOC members among others have led to damaging the image of the Olympics, so the simplification is a chance to review the degree of hospitality they receive,” he said. “(The organizers) should refrain from offering meals and alcoholic beverages at the lounges.”

Indeed. They can buy their own drinks for once 🙄

Canadian military wants to establish new organization to use propaganda, other techniques to influence Canadians

(nationalpost.com)

The Canadian Forces wants to establish a new organization that will use propaganda and other techniques to try to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of Canadians, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.

The plan comes on the heels of the Canadian Forces spending more than $1 million to train public affairs officers on behaviour modification techniques of the same sort used by the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, as well as a controversial and bizarre propaganda training mission in which the military forged letters from the Nova Scotia government to warn the public that wolves were wandering in the province.

[…]

But attempts to influence the public haven’t always worked out. Last year, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces planned a public relations campaign to counter what bureaucrats and officers believed were false claims that the military had a problem with racists in the ranks. But that plan had to be scuttled after alleged racists and far-right sympathizers with links to military became involved in a series of high-profile incidents, undercutting the message of the PR scheme that the severity of the issue had been exaggerated.

This should be illegal, but Trudeau is a pox on the nation …

More than 80% of COVID patients vitamin D deficient: study

(nationalpost.com)

More than 80 per cent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Spain had a vitamin D deficiency, according to a new small study.

Published by the Endocrine Society, Spanish researchers from the University Hospital Marques de Valdecilla looked at the vitamin D levels of 216 patients admitted for COVID-19 between March 10 and 31. They compared their vitamin D levels to those of a control group of 197 people of similar age and sex from a control cohort in the same geographical area. […]

Those most at risk of a vitamin D deficiency are those over 65 and people with dark skin. The darker your skin and the older you are, the less your body is able to produce the vitamin from the sun.

The Canadian government recommends 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D for adults every day. That increases to 800 IU for people older than 70 years, and 400 IU for infants.

You can also get vitamin D from what you eat, but diet may not be enough, which is why sun exposure or supplementation may be needed. But since the winter brings with it less sunlight, it may be helpful to focus on food sources of vitamin D such as milk, orange juice, cheese, and yogurt. The only natural food sources of vitamin D in Canada are fatty fish and egg yolks.

This sounds like as good a reason as any to not work in an office, factory, mall, or any building capable of having rooms without windows that face outside.

I think it also means that is about as COVID-immune as one could hope to be, primarily because of how much time he spends outdoors 😬

Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong high-score case will move forward to trial

(arstechnica.com)

A Los Angeles County judge has ruled that Billy Mitchell has met the "minimal merit" standard necessary to move forward to trial in his defamation case against the high-score adjudicators at the Twin Galaxies organization. But the ruling doesn't specifically weigh in on the conflicting evidence presented so far, and it suggests that both sides have some chance of prevailing at trial.

Mitchell says in court documents that Twin Galaxies' statement on the matter falsely and libelously implied that he was a cheater and that the organization's investigation ignored testimony from numerous eyewitnesses to his performance. Mitchell argues that Twin Galaxies' case "essentially rests on a conspiracy nearly as broad (and untenable) as the Kennedy assassination: Scores of people around the country with seemingly no connection to each other have agreed to lie and fabricate evidence that Mitchell achieved his records on arcade software."

C’mon people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Gotta love one another right now.

Or, barring that, how about ten paces and turn? 🙄