NASA's Mars 2020 rover set to hunt Martian fossils, scout for manned missions | The Japan Times


NASA on Friday showed off its Mars 2020 rover, whose official name will be chosen early next year. NASA will in February ship the rover to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, where its three sections will be fully assembled. A July launch will send the rover to a dry lake bed on Mars that is bigger than the island of Manhattan. […] The four-wheeled, car-sized rover will scour the base of Mars’ Jezero Crater, an 820-foot-deep (250-meter-deep) crater thought to have been a lake the size of Lake Tahoe, once the craft lands in February 2021. The crater is believed to have an abundance of pristine sediments some 3.5 billion years old that scientists hope will hold fossils of Martian life.

Given that the oldest fossils (that are generally recognised) on Earth are about 3.5-billion years old1, this is an optimistic goal.

  1. Stromatolites found in Canada.

Fujisawa man fined ¥300,000 for using online hate speech against Kawasaki resident | The Japan Times


The Kawasaki Summary Court on Friday ordered a man to pay a fine of ¥300,000 ($2,741 USD) for making derogatory and racist remarks against a Korean resident of Japan on Twitter.

This isn’t cool. I do not condone discrimination, but to fine people for saying stupid shit is a dangerous precedent. Taken too far, we’ll see the same type of crap that’s going on in Canada, where assholes claim they’re being discriminated against because they’re assholes and winning court cases …

Revealed: microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers


Exclusive: London has highest level yet recorded but health impacts of breathing particles are unknown

This is probably an “exclusive” because it’s not wholly accurate. There are no verifiable sources for the data and, given The Guardian’s track record with the truth since Trump announced his running for president — if not earlier —, I am unwilling to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Guardian has openly stated that they’ll no longer refer to climate change as “climate change” but instead “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” in order to “expedite the conversation on the seriousness of the topic”. In other words, they admit they’re blowing shit out of proportion for a specific intention, which means they cannot be impartial. Everything the paper says is either a lie or a misrepresentation of the truth, which sucks given that they were my sole source of “reliable” news for a decade …

Reporter wins lottery and quits job, live on air. Then she learns the payout was about $5,500


A Spanish television reporter appeared to celebrate and quit her job on live television after realizing she had a winning lottery ticket. It was a decision for which she would later apologize.

Whoops! 🤐

Japan's electronics makers break the bank to woo talented AI engineers | The Japan Times


Electronics makers are revising pay scales to attract competent engineers, including by throwing salaries of more than ¥10 million per year at recruits fresh out of school.

This is interesting. That said, I don’t trust corporate use of AI given how the companies are openly using it today. Getting into bed with some of these companies would likely mean working on projects that violate my ethical standpoints with regards to data collection, storage, and processing.

Ontario driver ticketed for towing 53-foot semi-trailer with Chevy Silverado


The weight of the trailer appeared to be resting solely on a single pin, slotted through a home-brew hitch set-up.

This is something I would expect from someone around the community I grew up in. The person probably thought it was a great way to save money and show everyone how strong his truck is. Mind you, acceleration and deceleration would have been tricky …

Rex Murphy: Our not-so-brave new world has gone bananas


What a magical world we have when, if someone wants something to be a something else, all he or she has to do is simply say so.

Rex is as conservative as it gets when it comes to social structures. While his take on the duct tapped banana artwork, ”The Comedian”, is blind to the commentary that is modern art, his overarching premise is how much of Asia is viewing the English-speaking world. The commentaries in both the Japan’s Asahi Shinbun and Korea’s Choson Ilbun both argue that the west is on the verge of a social reconstruction that will cost the west several generations to repair, in much the same way Asian countries had to restructure themselves in the latter half of the 20th century to join the modern world.

There’s a lot that I would like to write about the subject, as an outsider looking in, but my attempts to do so have so far been terribly imprecise and unsophisticated …

In the age of smartphones, Japanese schoolchildren's eyesight is worst on record, health ministry finds | The Japan Times


From elementary to high school, children in Japan are breaking records for bad eyesight, an education ministry health survey showed Friday. […] According to the survey results, children with uncorrected vision of less than 1.0 on the Japanese acuity scale account for 34.6 percent of elementary school students, 57.5 percent of junior high school students and 67.6 percent of high school students — all record highs.

Sounds like a solid reason to not provide the addictive little devices until later in life. That said, it’ll be a hard sell with kids and parents …

Downward spiral of war, crisis and need to worsen in 2020, fears top UN official


Downward spiral of war, crisis and need to worsen in 2020, fears top UN official. […] UN relief chief fears women, girls and disabled people will bear brunt of continued conflict, climate and economic deprivation.

There are fewer active wars today than at any time in human history, and the people who struggle to make ends meat during peacetime will surely struggle further if I’m close proximity to civil unrest. These are unsophisticated concerns. Not because these things don’t matter, because they do, but because claiming to care while having the might of the UN behind you means that either the UN is ineffective or the problem of abject poverty is outside the understanding of people who can afford to wear a suit to work every day.

There are half as many people living in destitution today than there was in 2000. By all measures, humanity is getting wealthier at every level across the globe every day. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but we’re far better off today as a species than we were just 19 years ago. Let’s continue doing what we’re doing and focus on that. The next problem can be tackled when we’re 90% done this one1.

  1. I say this despite knowing the UN has “200 priorities” for the 2020s, which is silly. You can’t have 200 of something and consider them all priorities. It’s disingenuous. Alas …

Canada needs to pivot, hard, and John Baird is the right man for the job


All Canadians understand (outside Ottawa) that this is a country that became prosperous as a result of freedom, entrepreneurship, business, free enterprise, innovation, hard work, human rights, the rule of law, and a great working relationship with our neighbour, the United States. The Tories must champion and embody those ethics. […] The next Tory leader must be in sync with the majority of Canadians who, to my mind, are social liberals and economic conservatives.

Diane Francis is spot on with her analysis of potential party leaders.