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Posts Tagged ‘Japan

“Gentlemen, you need to add armor-plate where the holes aren’t, because that’s where the holes were on the airplanes that didn’t return”*…

Diagram of bullet-holes in WWII bombers that returned

Allied bombers were key to Britain’s air offensive against Germany during the second world war. As such, the RAF wanted to armour their bombers to prevent them from being shot down. But armour is heavy – you cannot reinforce an entire bomber and still have it fly. So statistician Abraham Wald was asked to advise on where armour should be placed on a bomber.

After each wave of bombing, every returning aircraft was meticulously examined and a note was made of where each aircraft had sustained damage by the Germans. The image [above] conceptualises what Wald’s data might have looked like visually.

So what was Wald’s advice? Where should armour be added?

He essentially advised the RAF to add armour to places where you do not find bullet holes. Wait… what?!

Wald wisely understood that the data was based only on planes that survived. The planes that did not survive were likely to have sustained damage on the areas where we do not observe bullet holes – such as around the engine or cockpit…

Making better decisions: one of the most prevalent– and insidious– forms of selection bias, survivorship bias, illustrated: “How to armour a WWII bomber.”

See also: “How to avoid being duped by survivorship bias.”

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As we think clearly, we might send productive birthday greetings to W. Edwards Deming; he was born on this date in 1900. An engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant, he helped develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Department of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But he is better remembered as the champion of statistically-based production management techniques that first gained traction in post-WWII Japan, where many credit Deming as a key ingredient in what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960, when Japan rose from the ashes of war onto the its path to becoming the second-largest economy in the world– through processes shaped by the ideas Deming taught. In 1951, the Japanese government established the Deming Prize in his honor.

While his impact in Japan (finally) brought him to the attention of business leaders in the U.S., he was only just beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death in 1993.

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“Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something”*…

 

rice cooker

 

Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s population, especially in Asia and Africa.  It is the third most widely-cultivated staple crop worldwide, after maize/corn and wheat… and it is notoriously difficult to prepare correctly on a stove…

Cooking rice on a stovetop can be fraught. Add too much water and you end up with porridge. Without a keen sense of timing, you end up with undercooked [pellet-like] grains…

The automatic rice cooker is a mid-century Japanese invention that made a Sisyphean culinary labor as easy as measuring out grain and water and pressing a button. These devices can seem all-knowing. So long as you add water and rice in the right proportions, it’s nearly impossible to mess up, as the machines stop cooking at exactly the right point for toothsome rice. But creating an automatic rice cooker was not so easy. In fact, it took decades of inventive leaps, undertaken by some of the biggest names in Japanese technology…

How the biggest names in Japanese technology fought to make rice easy: “The Battle to Invent the Automatic Rice Cooker.”

* Mitch Hedberg

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As we ponder the pursuit of perfection, we might recall that today is National Potato Day– a celebration of the fourth most-widely cultivated staple crop.

220px-Patates source

 

Written by LW

August 19, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness”*…

 

Japan-laundromat-awards-2019-top-670x362

 

Around this time of year, a coveted prize is awarded within a niche industry in Japan: the Laundromat-of-the-Year-Award (pdf). It’s presented at an industry fair in Tokyo known as the International Coin-Operated Laundry EXPO where excellence in laundromats are recognized within 3 main categories. There’s a top prize, a prize for best design and a prize for best user experience…

Meet the honorees: “Winners of Japan’s 2019 Laundromat of the Year Award.”

* John Wesley

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As we pre-soak, we might recall that it was on this date in 1934 that the Maytag company produced the first “Maytag Toy Racer,” a one-passenger automobile sold mainly to Maytag dealers, who raced them to promote the brand.  498 Maytag Toy Racers were built before production ended on December 1, 1941, and approximately 25 survivors have been located to date.

400px-Maytag_toy_racer source

 

Written by LW

October 11, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Three matches one by one in the night”*…

 

Japanese match book covers…  Many more at Agence Eureka.

(via Tyler Hellard‘s always-enriching Pop Loser)

* “Trois Allumettes,” Jacques Prevert

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As we close the cover before striking, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that the Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan, and the first Diet convened.  Modeled on both the Prussian and the British models, the Meiji Constitution provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy that lasted until 1947.   In practice, the Emperor was head of state, but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government.

“Meiji Constitution Promulgation,” by Toyohara Chikanobu

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Written by LW

November 29, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I am a ruin myself, wandering among ruins”*…

 

The abandoned Hachijo Royal Hotel on the island of Hachijojima

Japan is in some sense uniquely blessed as a land of ruins. Its rapidly aging population, low birth rate, urbanization and lack of immigration have left a legacy of ghost towns and more than 8 million abandoned homes, or akiya. That tally could hit 21.5 million, one-third of all residences nationwide, by 2033, according to the Nomura Research Institute.

Abandoned homes are ubiquitous in rural Japan, posing health and safety hazards to locals, but they can even be found in central Tokyo, vacant edifices that for whatever reason owners refuse to demolish and rebuild.

In addition to the scourge of abandoned homes, Japan is dealing with lingering effects of the asset-inflated bubble economy of the 1980s and 1990s that saw the construction of numerous hotels, theme parks and other leisure facilities that went bust when the bubble burst. Some money-losing facilities, including the ill-fated Canadian World in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido, themed on the popular “Anne of Green Gables” novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, were rehabilitated into public parks. But in all too many cases, others were left to rot…

More on the “ghost towns” of Japan at “The lure of Japan’s mysterious ruins.”

* Heinrich Heine

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As we keep our ear peeled for echoes, we might we might send majestic 100th birthday greetings to the U.S. National Park Service; it was founded on this date in 1916.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 25, 2016 at 1:01 am

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