Wednesday, November 26, 2008


An odd story has taken top billing in the news here recently.

It started off with a couple of gruesome murders and another stabbing, considered to be related:

In separate but possibly related knife attacks, a former top health ministry bureaucrat and his wife were found stabbed to death in their Saitama home while the wife of another retired health ministry bureaucrat was seriously wounded in Tokyo, police said Tuesday.

All sorts of speculation ensued about terrorism or perhaps someone who is disgruntled over the pensions problems (the national pension scheme is in chaos partly because of the difficulty of reading kanji, and this is health ministry business). The police had no useful leads other than to suggest that the shoe sole of the suspect was an evil dangerous foreign Chinese invader. But most stuff here comes from China, especially if it's labelled as Japanese.

Then a few days later some guy handed himself in and claimed responsibility, saying his motivation is....

...his pet dog was put down 34 years ago, because it barked.

It wasn't even euthanased by the health ministry!

There are plenty of conspiracy theories based on a couple of embarassing flubs by the police: they announced the stabber was left-handed but this man is right handed, and the bloodied knife he presented also does not match the type they had expected. But with a confession and DNA match that is hardly going to matter.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eco-genius invents the dehumidifier

Surely I can't be the only one to have realised that this new machine that can magic water out of thin air is little more than a humble dehumidifier, the like of which has been around for....well I don't have a clue actually but it is hardly a new invention. They are very common in Japan (either as a function of an air-con or as a stand-alone unit) where the summers are extremely humid. I wouldn't fancy drinking what comes out of the back end, mind you, but that only requires a bit of sterilising and filtering.

As for the cost of the resulting water, at $0.30 per litre...I do not know how that compares to existing dehumidifiers but it makes a nonsense of the breathless claims that this gadget could make a useful contribution to water production. The claim of paying for itself in a couple of years is clearly absurd and refers only to an alternative of living off bottled water - and who does that?

Desalination plants can generate water at about a thousandth of the price (random google).

Monday, November 24, 2008

The 2000W challenge

the energy use each of us must stick to if we’re to keep the planet hospitable: precisely 2,000 watts.

Well I just looked at our fuel bills. The max monthly electricity bill I can find is 440kWh (December) and the min is 142 in May (neither heating nor air-con). The summer air-con peak is about 300 and the monthly ave is comfortably below this but I will round it up a little to 10kWh per day - this is for two people and covers the vast majority of our domestic fuel use since gas is just for hot water and cooking.

The cited article (which has some silliness like conflating max rated power with actual energy usage) says that domestic energy, food, and travel make up roughly 1/3 of the total each. So by that reckoning we are using about 1/3 of the suggested max for domestic energy. Our Japanese diet is certainly lower in energy demand than a typical Western diet, being rather low in meat (and calories!). We even cycle to work most days and don't own a car. But we probably make up for it with ~2 long-haul air trips per year...