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Tag: japanese

Japanese robot dog can tell you if your feet are stinky

It’s one thing — one seemingly very strange thing — to build a robot whose only job is to tell us if our feet stink.

But to make it in the form of a fluffy little white dog? That’s a pretty odious, and odorous, task to assign to the species, even a robot member of the species, and it’s degrading to robot dogs everywhere — many of which perform far more important duties, like sitting, and laying down, and barking and fetching a ball.

This new odor-detecting technology comes from Japan, which leads the world in producing robot dogs.

Its name is Hana-chan, and the six-inch long robot dog from Next Technology has a built-in odor detection sensor in its nose that assesses just how malodorous you feet may be, according to Japan Times.

JAPAN-TECHNOLOGY-ROBOT-OFFBEATIf your feet are slightly smelly, Hana-chan will bark. If they are truly pungent, Hana-chan will faint and fall over on its side.

But not before spraying a little air freshener on your toes.

Hana is the Japanese word for nose and Chan is a common girl’s nickname.

Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog in early 2018 — at about $900 each.

Now, as absurd as Hana-chan might seem, the product makes more sense when you consider the cultural context.

Traditional Japanese remove their shoes before entering a home — both their own and those of others.

Traditional Japanese are also respectful, and not as likely as, say, an American friend — or wife — to blurt out, “Jesus! Your feet stink.”

Next Technology says it created the robot in response to a request from a man who suspected he had a foot odor issue.

“He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly . . . But he didn’t want to know how bad the odor was because he would feel hurt,” a company representative said. “That’s why we developed this cute robot.”

With the robot dog, people can avoid the embarrassment of being told their feet stink, or perhaps the even greater embarrassment of not being told and offending everyone in the room.

(Photo: Next Technology)

Photo bomb: That wasn’t Amelia Earhart, after all; so, doggonit, the mystery lives on

notearhart

Two of the biggest news stories of the week — or at least the two most shouted about by the news media — were new evidence surfacing regarding Trump’s ties to Russia and new evidence surfacing in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Revelations that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting during the campaign with a Russian who promised some dirt on Hillary Clinton were called a “nothing burger” by Trump supporters. But, as the week progressed, it all started looking pretty meaty.

The other so-called investigative breakthrough — “experts” saying they found a photo that shows Earhart and her navigator in the custody of the Japanese on the Marshall Islands after their crash and disappearance in 1937 — turned out to be a totally meatless whopper.

apearhartBy which we don’t mean a lie — just a tremendously lazy mistake. The photo in question, it turns out, originally appeared in a travel book published two years before Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan even began the journey they wouldn’t return from.

The photo was the basis of an hour-long History Channel special Monday — one that was widely promoted in news programs as a possible solution to an 80-year old mystery.

Instead, the whole theory ended up holding about as much as (sorry, Geraldo) Al Capone’s vault.

It’s all just more proof that, when it comes to truth, when it comes to uncovering things, when it comes to unburying treasures, we’re better off putting our faith in dogs. Dogs aren’t concerned with making money, or getting famous, or one-upping, or getting in the last word, or getting interviewed by Matt Lauer.

We talked about the “Earhart photo” in a post earlier this week, but that post pertained more to another, less publicized effort to get to the bottom of the Earhart mystery, and how it had turned to some “bone sniffing dogs” in an attempt to find Earhart’s bones.

Operating on an alternate theory, and not buying the “photographic evidence,” a Pennsylvania-based group called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) sent four border collies to a site they have been focusing on — a small coral atoll about 400 miles south of Howland Island.

Four dogs alerted to a spot in the area, and excavation ensued, but no bones were found.

They had hoped to find bones and, through DNA testing, link them to Earhart. Some small glimmers of hope remain. Dirt from the site has been sent to a lab though to see if any traces of human DNA remain in it, and there’s a possibility that human DNA could be found in crabs that scavenged on any bones.

nothing burgerThat quest could turn out to be a “nothing burger,” too, but even so it won’t be as embarrassing as the efforts of Les Kinney, the former treasury agent who came across a photo in the National Archives that he and others were highly convinced depicted Earhart and her navigator in Japanese custody.

That led to History Channel documentary, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which aired Sunday and concluded that, based on the photo and other evidence, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan ended up in Japanese custody on the Marshall Islands after they survived a crash landing.

The documentary touted the image as “the key to solving one of history’s all-time greatest mysteries.”

Many a news organization billed the photo that way, too, until Wednesday, when they all started backtracking after learning a Tokyo-based blogger unearthed the same photograph in the archives of Japan’s national library. It had appeared in a book — published in 1935.

Kota Yamano, a military history blogger, ran an online search using the keyword “Jaluit atoll” and a decade-long time frame starting in 1930.

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” he said, along with its source — a travel book published two years before Earhart began the attempted around the world journey in 1937.

The Internet search took all of 30 minutes, he said.

“I was really happy when I saw it, Yamano said. “I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

Major news media didn’t do that, either, opting to put more effort into hyping the story than doing a little digging of their own.

So thanks to Koto Yamano for letting us know the “Earhart photo” was a “nothing burger.” (Maybe we should have him figure out this whole Russia and Trump thing.)

According to the website knowyourmeme.com — if we are to believe it — the earliest known usage of the term “nothing burger” was by Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons. She used it in reference to actor Farley Granger, whose acting chops she apparently questioned.

When the actor was released from his contract with Samuel Goldwyn’s studio, MGM, in 1953, she wrote “After all, if it hadn’t been for Sam Goldwyn Farley might very well be a nothing burger.”

The concept — though the term wasn’t used — was pretty much the basis of Wendy’s old “Where’s the beef?” advertising campaign, and the phrase itself has enjoyed a revival this year, thanks mainly to politics, and the presidential campaign, and the Internet, where we don’t seem to agree on anything except what cool-sounding phrase we all want to use, be it “game changer” or “nothing burger.”

If the Amelia Earhart mystery ever is solved, I suspect dogs will be part of that resolution, probably DNA, too — but not emails, not quickie documentary makers trying to sell a story, and definitely not politicians.

(Photos: At top, the photo some investigators said included Earhart, after her plane crashed, as it appeared in Umi no seimeisen : Waga nannyou no sugata, a photo book in Japan’s national library published in 1935; below, the actual Earhart in an Associated Press photo; at bottom, an actual nothing burger)

Cooking with Dog (It’s not what you think)

A much beloved Internet celebrity has died.

He was part of a cooking team — the less shy half, the English-speaking half, the more comfortable in front of the camera half, the poodle half.

Francis the dog was the host and narrator of “Cooking with Dog,” which also featured the human he lived with, an unnamed Japanese housewife who had never been on camera before a producer friend proposed they put together a cooking show for the Internet.

She was hesitant, as she was a private sort, and felt alone and insecure in front of the camera.

francisandchefWith Francis at her side, though, she was up to the task and the duo went on, over the next 10 years, to rise to Internet stardom — Chef, as she is called, doing all the cooking and making an occasional comment in Japanese, Francis providing the narration, in English, with a French accent.

Francis passed away Sunday at age 14, Gizmodo reported, based on a Twitter post.

“Cooking with Dog” began in 2007 after the producer, who also likes to keep his name private, returned to Japan from Los Angeles, where he had spent several years working in the entertainment industry.

He said he wanted to keep working in film and television, and promote Japanese culture — in a way English-speaking audiences could follow.

“There are many cooking programs on TV and I just wanted to make our show look different and unique. And also I don’t know any celebrities or famous people and I didn’t have a large budget,” he told The Japan Times last year.

Having Francis narrate the show gave it a quirky edge, and opened it up to English-speaking audiences.

“Cooking With Dog” has over 1.2 million subscribers, making it one of the most popular food channels on YouTube. Nearly a third of the viewers come from the United States.

Over the years, its title has raised some eyebrows and led to a little confusion. Some who have stumbled across it thought it might be about cooking for your dog, or about recipes that used dog meat as an ingredient.

Dogs are, after all, raised for their meat and consumed by a small minority of the population in several Asian countries.

But anyone who watched a video quickly became aware nothing nefarious was afoot — it was a just a pure and simple cooking show in which a soft-spoken chef calmly puts together elaborate and often ornate Japanese dishes as her dog looks on.

It’s a refreshing change from American cooking shows, where there has been a distinct shift toward manic hosts, who are generally overseeing some sort of cut-throat competition.

Gizmodo reports it is uncertain if “Cooking with Dogs” will continue without Francis.

If not, we still have the more than 300 episodes that have been produced. You can watch them at the Cooking with Dog, YouTube channel.

Pedaling your dog to better health

I’ve long felt that that the modern day treadmill is a backwards concept.

Instead of using up electricity, they should be be creating it.

If all the energy being expended in gyms and homes across the country could be harnessed, it would be enough to … well, I have no idea, but it would make more sense than all that treadmills and exercise bicycles use up, especially at gyms where the temperature is set at 68 degrees and 20 televisions, all tuned to a different channel, line the walls.

So, silly as this Japanese-made device might look, it makes some sense.

The Doggy Health Run Pet Owner Exercise Treadmill — aka DoggyMan — doesn’t need to be plugged in. A human pedals the bicycle, which in turn powers the treadmill that the dog happily trots along on.

As a result, both human and dog get much needed exercise — much like they would on, say, a walk.

The treadmill — too small to be used with a larger dog — can be placed alongside the exercise bike or in front of it.

“Every dog owner wants their fluffy friend to be in the best of health. But sometimes, it’s just too hot or cold to play outdoors, or maybe your canine pal wants to head out a little too late at night,” the website Japantrendshop.com explains.

“Well, with the Doggy Health Run Pet Owner Exercise Treadmill, your dog can get all the exercise they need … with a little help from their owner!”

You might want to be fairly certain before you purchase it that your dog will like it, and not run away from it.

It comes with a price tag of $2,082.

Need silence? Put a dachshund in your ear

plugs

Who wouldn’t want a tiny dachshund running through their brain?

Now you can have it, or the semblance of it, while simultaneously drowning out night time noises — be they the barking dog next door or a snoring spouse.

plugs2Simply plug the dachshund’s front end into one ear, its hind end into the other, and commence to dreaming.

The ear plugs were created by Japanese designer Mao Yamamoto and are made of the same foam as most other ear plugs you’d find at the drug store.

A set of two costs about $11 and they come in five colors: blue, red/orange, yellow, white and gray, Mashable reports.

The Mimi Pet Earplugs, from the Japanese brand +d, can be washed and re-used, and come with a handy storage pouch. They can be purchased online at Koncent.jp.

(Photos from Koncent.jp)

Plans for whale meat dog treats dropped

A Japanese company has canned its plan to buy the meat of endangered whales killed in the waters around Iceland and sell it in the form of luxury dog treats.

An Icelandic firm, Hvalur hf,  set to resume commercial whaling next month, had planned to kill up to 174 endangered fin whales and sell the meat to Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm, the Telegraph reported.

Protests from environmentalists prompted the Japanese company to cancel its order, but the whale hunt is still on.

“It’s outrageous,” said Claire Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It is grotesque to kill an endangered species and then ship it half way around the world in order to feed it to dogs.”

Takuma Konno, head of Michinoku, confirmed that plan has been scrapped.

“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan,” he said. “We just wanted to supply a wide variety of food for them. We consider dogs as just as important as whales. But it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”

That hasn’t changed plans for whalers in Iceland, who, after a three year break, will resume hunting for fin whales next month.

Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, refuses to abide by the moratorium on whaling.

Swept away, rescued, and now reunited

That dog we showed you Saturday — the one who was rescued from atop the rubble of a home after being swept more than a mile out to sea by the tsunami in Japan?

Today she was reunited with her owner.

The reunion took place at an animal shelter in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, where the dog, named Ban, was returned to an overjoyed owner, three weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

Ban, a two-year-old mixed breed, was plucked off the wreckage of a house drifting in the sea Friday by a Japanese helicopter rescue crew. You can see that video here. Apparently, she spent more than three weeks adrift.

The dog’s owner, whose name was not made public, saw the rescue on television and rushed to claim her pet, according to both Voice of America and the Associated Press.

Thousands of people and countless pets are still missing three weeks after the disaster, which left more than 12,000 people dead.