Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I'm in a bad mood, I can't concentrate, I feel tired. I'm eating too much, and putting on pounds. I'm avoiding social contact. I'm depressed. Yeah, I got dem ole winter blahs. Even living here in sunny Miyazaki for the past 10 years is not enough to stave of this annual bout of bleh. It's even worse here, actually. Back in the old country, where there was at least some comfort in the fact that the weather really was depressing, I used to while away the months of January and February with extended bouts of drinking. And, if I had to go outside, there were always long walks down the dark, frozen, lonely streets, hockey stick in hand, and a chance encounter with a smiling, cheerful face... Of course now that I'm a family man, those small, simple pleasures have been stolen away from me...

Imagine my delight, dear readers, when I chanced upon this item about a "therapeutic" robot baby seal, designed right here in Japan (by real Japanese researchers!). The "Paro" (as it's called) has been recognized as the "World's Most Therapeutic Robot" by the Guinness Book of World Records!
The 57-centimetre Paro, covered with soft artificial fur, behaves in cuddly fashion on being caressed.

It responds to people's actions and words in a range of ways depending on what action they take toward it, such as stroking and talking to it.

The 2.7 kilogram Paro moves its head and flippers, making sounds and mimicking the voice of a baby seal [...]

[...] it provides healing effects, such as reducing stress and depression levels.

Damn! A robot baby seal for reducing stress and depression! Japanese ingenuity never ceases to amaze! Although it's mildly mystifying why none of the test subjects for this wonderful little contraption were Canadian (possibly they're trying to create market anticipation?), readers possessing only a passing familiarity with Canada and its quaint customs will have no difficulty understanding what this could mean to me and untold millions of other Canadians. I'm ordering one today!

Now, where's my hockey stick...?

Iggy Pop-Nightclubbing


  1. Where can I get one of those?!

  2. Maybe those crafty Japanese engineers men could come up with an equivalent for their own market - a therapeutic shark whose fin you can lovingly cut off in the name of dubious "traditional medicine", subsequently throwing the rest of the useless thing back into the water to short-circuit?

    Oh, and in the interests of balance...

    (Apols, that was all WAY too preachy. Happy New Year, K, and apologies for my prolonged absence).

  3. Chez,
    I'll keep you posted as info becomes available!

    Nice to see you, my friend.

    I think you're confusing the Japanese with the Chinese re: shark fin soup. In Japan it's whales and dolphins, my man!

    As far as the seal hunt goes, I don't really believe much from either side. Joking aside, I don't really see the need, in this day and age, to kill animals simply for their skins. Synthetic stuff is much easier to keep clean!

    As a meat-eater myself, killing them for food is another matter entirely. Regarding whales, I think the Japanese would be best served just giving the whole thing up--it's not like it's a necessary food source for them, and the bad PR just isn't worth it, regardless of whether or not whales are "intelligent" and/or "endangered".

  4. With you completely on whales; I'm not sure what they're trying to prove and to whom by continuing to hunt, but the bad PR is, as you say, not worth it - a good example of this being my shocking error re. shark fin soup, which I always assumed was a Japanese dish for no better reason than I subconsciously equate Japan with animal cruelty...(!)

    As for meat generally, the tide over here seems to be turning somewhat amongst my fellow alfalfa-munching smelly hippy veggie bretheren (and indeed amongst many meat eaters), in that the focus currently seems to be more on animal welfare, rather than on whether it's intrinsically right or wrong to eat animals - hence organic and free range sales are growing massively year-on-year. Are they "down with" all that jazz in Japan? And, indeed, are you "down with" my new moniker?

  5. Just realised that the hyperlink on my name for some reason doesn't link to my url. I'm sure you used to be able to link to sites...

  6. Tafkass,
    I usually see some "organic" selections available in the supermarket sections here, but I suspect that "free range" would price beef (which is already very expensive) right out of the market. There simply is no space here for animals to range freely (my living room excepted). In fact, most of the farming that I see here is very small-scale and probably is "virtually" organic (whatever that might mean!).

    Regarding the url/link business, I can't be sure why it isn't linking to your site, but I notice that there's a drop-down menu that allows you to sign in through a variety of accounts (wordpress, etc.). Perhaps it's connected to that?

  7. You can post as a Google / Blogger user (with your GMail password), anonymously, or as a "nickname" with a url (which I've done - this used to allow you to link to your non-Blogger site, but no longer). Yet more Google hegemonising, I fear...

  8. Hmm, you know, Tafkass, it *is* possible for you yo post here with your name linking to your site (I've just gone back through comments and found a couple of non-Blogger commenters who have done it). If you're signed in and have entered your url it should work:
    Skip: Sign in using...
    Just click the circle by nickname and enter your url.

  9. That's what I was trying; it encourages you to enter the URL, but then fails to provide a hyperlink from your nickname on the entered to your (non-Google) site. Which is WWW.VERYPOOR.CO.UK, everyone.

  10. I'm still a bit mystified by this, because it seems to work OK for other non-Blogger comments. I'll check it out.

  11. I have nothing to say, just thought I would butt in here, or is that but in here? I have never done so before in type. On your personal convo.

  12. Taff,
    "Butt" in, "but" out... ;-)
    ... and you aren't butting in at all!