This should have gone out yesterday, but the weather was so nice, a bike ride along the river and a visit to sister-in-law pushed this back. Maki’s sister is going to take care of the cat while we drive out to Nagoya and get their mother ready for moving out of her home to a nursing home near our house here in Tokyo. We will drive up to the countryside in Gifu so she can sell her family house, bought many years ago for about $100,000, and now worth $15,000 (mostly for the land, the neighbors will rase the house and grow vegetables). Another indication on the hollowing out of rural Japan as it empties into the Tokyo basin called Kanto, now with almost a third of the entire population.

Maki and I were also watching the 30th anniversary of the ascension of the Emperor when we both realized that we got married six weeks later. So now I in the market for a nice 30th wedding anniversary present for April 15. Suggestions welcome.

Reading list for the week
Reading list for the week

News: People in the US, most notably in Fountain Colorado, near Colorado Springs, are seeing some really nasty chemicals in their drinking water. Turns out that the military (which has 3 bases in the area) are the source. The military does not seem too concerned about rising cancer rates in the area, minimizing the problem. Unfortunately, this has historical antecedents. Kodak, in Rochester New York, in 1945, noticed that their x-ray film was fogged. They discovered it was run-off from military nuclear testing. So the military quietly told Kodak the days when the water they let out was “hot”. Nobody notified the public. When will people learn never to trust their government? (Popular Mechanics)

Media: Is there any way to monetize (make a buck off of) digital media? People keep trying and failing. This time, Buzzfeed, following AOL, Yahoo and Huffpost. (NYTimes)

Media: Joi Ito from MIT’s Media Lab (I saw him at a Media Lab conference last summer) has just proposed a way to solve the expensive journal article problem in science. Keep your eyes peeled for PubPub and Underlay. (Blog)

Media: Netflix is making the world more international. Really. It makes a lot of business sense, but is also good for the world. Surprisingly. Farhad Manjoo. (NYTimes)

Media: Favorite headline for the week, but also on how to manipulate media for political purposes, this one about privatizing the internet. Blockbuster Gizmodo investigation reveals probable masterminds of the massive anti-Net Neutrality identity theft/astroturf campaign. Includes bots and dead people. Another one about the same topic, this time the government lying with statistics in manufacturing. (Mother Jones)

Communication: Scientists figure that only a small percentage of a verbal message is contained in the selection of words. Use this to explore the 24 sounds humans use to communicate. All those sighs, grunts and moans. Captivating. (Discover Magazine).

Tech: Read these 6 stories about rewriting your program online. A good idea? Depends. EdTech: Training your customers (support)? Use some ideas from online education. This will probably be the direction I go when I retire from the uni in a few years. I have a feeling I am leaving academia at just the right time. Expecting my retirement to be exciting. Download the 48-page report Shift Happens 2 to find out why it is a good idea to be looking at other avenues if you are teaching at a university. Stephen Downes thought this was an unusual EdTech “device”: bring a baby to class and have students watch to practice empathy. Seems to work, though. With Facebook and Instagram and other social media getting toxic, it is worth a look at how Forums work online (by Howard Rheingold). Toxic is right, with China forcing DNA tests on the Uighur minority. (NYTimes) Online Petitions don’t work. Just ask the people behind #FuckFuckJerry. (Atlantic)

Productivity: Stephen Wolfram is productive. He talks about the many ways and tools he uses. (Blog). There are a lot of ways to measure success, once you become productive. Try some Effective Altruism to make your life better as well as the lives of others. (Forbes)

Politics. Steve Salita got fired from his university lecture position for tweeting about Palestine. He is now a bus driver. He writes about how things have changed and how they haven’t. I just wish society would be consistent in prosecution by tweet.

Learning: Valuable new look at learning in this book review and interview of How Humans Learn. Is teaching an art or a science?

Free Podcasts for learning English. I have not listened to any of these, so if you have an opinion, please comment. Thanks. Watch this Video about Questions from the Right Question Institute. It works. I have tried it, and use it regularly in class. Adapted of course. Buy the book. Or take the $200 grad school course from Harvard. TechTool: Keep your blog syndication simple (use RSS!) (CogDog)

And finally, a concert with the boys. A colleague pointed us to a group coming to Tokyo in June. I have been a fan of Susan Tedeschi, but lost track of her about a decade ago. Now I see she is singing with her husband and one-time Allman Brothers Band member Derek Truck. Great blues.