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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Coca-Cola Plus Won’t Make You Poop, Per Se

Coca-Cola Plus is a zero calorie soft drink recently given a “gold” label by the Japanese government which means the drink contains “health benefits” under Japan's Food of Specified Health Use (FOSHU), the first-ever such designation for a Coca-Cola product. 

It was introduced in February of 2017 by Coca-Cola Japan

The drink does contain dextrin, which is a dietary fiber.

While a dietary fiber such as dextrin can have a laxative effect, it’s not a laxative in the strict sense of the word.

In other words, it’s not going to make you poop.

Dextrin, and other dietary laxatives, can help sooth and calm one’s digestive systems.

While some far-reaching companies state that dextrin is a weight-solution that actually “eats” fat, it does no such thing. People began gobbling up dextrin like it was candy, and when people started evacuating their bowels with greater urgency and frequency. the consumer thought that was just the way stuff worked… and sure, their felt lighter.

Did you know that you actually way more after you fart? Gases within the body that are expelled during a fart, actually weigh less than air… so when you fart, you weigh more. Don’t worry, you don’t have to refrain from farting - though it is appreciated - the weight gain is not measurable, regardless of how much you may have eaten or drunk.

But, pooping will not make you thin.

For Coca-Cola Plus, a recent Wall Street Journal article published on January 7, 2018 called the beverage a laxative… which is simply incorrect.

While Coca-Cola Plus is available in Japan, it is not available in North America, and I doubt it is in Europe… you Aussies et al can let me know if you have it there.

In the meantime, I would be curious to know just how Coca-Cola Plus earned its “health benefit” certification.

Wait - I found out from Coca-Cola themselves:

The zero-calorie cola contains five grams of indigestible dextrin per 470-ml bottle.

The key word is "indigestible", which means it is difficult or impossible for the stomach to breakdown. Hence... poop.

Coca-Cola Japan is marketing Coca-Cola Plus, which apparently features the great Coca-Cola taste, to health- and taste-conscious consumers 40-years-of-age and older, as a beverage to enjoy with food.

Coca-Cola Japan says that drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating.

“Coca-Cola Plus is a sugar-free and calorie-free beverage with FOSHU functions and great Coca-Cola taste, so we hope people will drink it with meals,” says Dr. David Machiels, product development director, R&D, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific.

Anyhow, as with most things in life, too much of a good thing is bad for you. To be fair, Coca-Cola Japan is only recommending one drink of Coca-Cola Plus per day of its FOSHU beverage to achieve optimum results.

Andrew Joseph

Monday, January 15, 2018

Q2 Japan - YouTube Channel

The one thing I don't mind doing, is helping out a friend whenever I can.

My friend Matthew, whom I first met on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme back in 1990 - holy sh!t!, says he and his wife Takako have a couple of friends in Japan, one of whom is an ALT (assistant language teacher) currently living and working in Okayama (岡山) the capital city of Okayama-ken (Okayama Prefecture).

She was recently joined by her boyfriend, a Japanese/American who's profession is photographer.

Anyhow, the two of them have cooked up a YouTube Channel, and what the heck... since it is pretty cool, I love love, and Matthew and Takako are friends I would trust with my life, I have no trouble in promoting it here.

Check it out, when you have a few moments - lots of good short videos. They are quite informative and clean... heck... I even learned a few things!

It's called Q2 Japan, and you can find it at the link below:

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Meet Private Snafu - WWII Propaganda Cartoons

Today I have for you a cartoon character created by Frank Capra... the legendary director who did that great Jimmy Stewart movie It's A Wonderful Life, from which I bastardized the title for this blog, because it's one of the greatest movies ever made!

And, if you think that's the only famous name I'm dropping here, prepare yourself. 

Anyhow, that character is none other than Private Snafu.

The Private Snafu black and white cartoons were created between 1943 and 1945 and were meant to provide a humorous way to instruct service personnel about security, proper sanitation habits, booby traps and other military subjects, and, of course to hep improve troop morale.

The cartoons use Private Snafu to show how doing all the wrong things can screw up the war for the Allied troops in the European and the Pacific theaters of WWII.

By the way... the name Snafu... is a military acronym which means: "Situation normal all fugged up".

Obviously I misspelled "fugged", but you get the idea. It is where the word snafu has it origins.

Scene From Episode 25: Operation Snafu, from December 22, 1945.
The voice of Private Snafu is quite obviously the same as Bugs Bunny, for those in the know, which means it was performed by the one and only Mel Blanc... and not his son Mel Blanc Jr., who was good, but you could always tell it wasn't his dad.

The cartoons were directed mostly by Chuck Jones, who amongst a score of writing, directing and producing Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, the Coyote and Roadrunner, he also created the very famous Michigan J. Frog.

Yes... hello my baby!

Other directors include Fritz Freleng, Bob Clampett and Frank Tashlin  - who also did Warner Brothers cartoons - and Hugh Harman... who with Rudolph Ising helped found both Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) animation studios. So... very good directors all.

The Private Snafu cartoons were mostly written by Ted Geisel... I know... famous right? Still not sure what I am talking about? Think of The Lorax, The Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs And Ham.. that's right Geisel is the real name of Dr. Seuss, who was very much a pro-American and during the war hated the Japanese for their attack on America, IE Pearl Harbor.

The Private Snafu cartoons are funny, and ultimately racist in their depiction of the Japanese (whenever they appear)... but keep an open mind and recall that this was during the height of WWII when Japan was still very much the enemy.

Walt Disney was given the first shot at producing the cartoons, but Leon Schlesinger (May 20, 1884 – December 25, 1949) under bid him by two-thirds. Schlesinger had founded the Leon Schlesinger Studios, which later became the Warner Bros. Cartoons... and he was a distant relative of the Warner Bros.

You know that Michigan J. Frog was/is the official mascot of the WB television network, right?

There were a total of 27 cartoons (though one was lost after the Master Copy was sent to the Army, and was never released, and is considered lost - it was called Secrets Of The Carribean), roughly four minutes apiece, produced, and what is interesting to note, is that the Private Snafu cartoons were an actual military secret, and classified as government documents.

Employees working on the cartoons had to be fingerprinted and given FBI clearance. And, when working on the cartoons, workers at the ink and paint department, for example, only had 10 cels at a time to work on to prevent them from determining the story content.

You can find the cartoons easily enough on the Internet these days, but allow me to present to you Private Snafu In The Aleutians:

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Japanese Bride In America

What I have for you here today is an interesting mini movie made in 1952 called Japanese Bride In America, created by the US Army, about a young American soldier returning to Cleveland, Ohio a few years after WWII with his new, Japanese bride.

While I had thought about the difficulties of such an endeavor when I fell in love with Noboko, and again for my friend Matthew and his wife Takako, I felt that such issues as loneliness in Japan for when we first arrived in Japan with the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme would be offset by the fact that each was now two hearts beating as one.

And, while there is some truth to the fact that sometimes Japan can be 'racist' towards foreigners, I was also aware that both Canada and the U.s. can be racist as well... just not among our own particular families.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew's parents and sister when they came to visit Matthew. Salt of the Earth - all of them... and not surprising considering Matthew.

Noboko was not in the picture yet when my mom visited, but she did talk to her over the phone a few times... Noboko nervous as a newborn deer... but smiling all the while as my mom chatted with her. My mom knew how much Noboko meant to me, and there wasn't a racist bone in that woman's soul - she raised me right.

Still... I was aware at just how difficult for anyone to come to another country and try and set-up a new life.

I had done it, as did Matthew. Sure we didn't know we might want to stay forever or even longer than one year, but both of us were prepared to do so if that's what it took.

My own parents left India after marriage and moved to England where I was born before settling in Canada, where I grew up, and aside from the three years in Japan (and England), where I have always lived.

While Noboko was too afraid to take that giant leap across the waters with me... or even to be with me, Matthew and Takako were not.

For them, at least, there was a huge element of time.

World War II had ended over 50 years previous... but for the Japanese bride in this movie, time was recent.

Race relations in Japan were still a bit sticky in the U.S. amongst Blacks and Whites, and heck, anyone not White, the movie purports to show that not everyone is angry or racist, and is actually more understanding than one might think.

As for this post WWII movie, you might wonder why Japanese women would be remotely interested in American military men... the men who helped defeat their country...

You could assume it was admiration for the soldiers who could defeat their God-like emperor and soldiers... but no.

Japan was handled very well by General Douglas MacArthur and the US Allied Forces who took over the day-to-day running of the country in the years immediately after the war.

Not only did the Allied Forces re-write Japan's Constitution - it's still in use today - but that Constitution didn't mire the country in stupidity like the League of Nations did to Germany after WWI, plunging the country into hyper inflation where it was cheaper wipe one's butt with a one million mark bill than to to purchase toilet paper.

No... America helped rebuild the Japanese economy, which allowed it to make reparation payments to other countries without going completely into debt.

As well, the new constitution gave rights to women in Japan... something they did not have before.

Some 60,000 American servicemen married Japanese women while in Japan... and all were promised that they could bring their wife and kids back to the U.S. free of charge.

When the United States of America Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, it allowed those GIs to bring the German or Italian families back... a number that was on top of existing immigration quotas.

However, because there still was some racism involved, the servicemen who married Japanese women were unable to bring their families back until the 1952 Immigration Act was passed.

It is estimated that of the 300,000 foreign war brides that entered the United States, some 50,000 of them were Japanese.

There might actually be double that number only because it is believed that another 50,000 American military men stayed in Japan, while a number of other marriages simply were not recognized by the United States or Japan.

This 1952 movie, was created as a means to try and soften the blow for Americans at home who might come across one of their own military men married to the former enemy, in this case, a Japanese woman.

Despite the dour look of the American mother-in-law below... let me put your mind at ease that she is only contemplating how to get her Japanese daughter-in-law to relax and become part of the family.

One of the more interesting things I noticed in the movie, was how the Japanese woman Miwako holds her pencil when she writes to her brother... so upright, as though it was a paint brush used in the Japanese calligraphy writing style known as shodō (書道).

Man... I wish they had something like this that Noboko's father could have seen. For those who have not read my life story contained within this blog, Noboko was unable to defy her father, choosing instead to let me go back to Canada alone.

I talk/write like that was a huge mistake... but really, it's just life, and while I look back at Japan through this blog, and sometimes wonder what my life would have been like, I have few regrets... zero about Japan.

Andrew Joseph

Friday, January 12, 2018

Space Invaders Turns 40

It's perhaps one of the most iconic arcade video games ever - Space Invaders!

It was sold by gaming company Taito in Japan, but by Midway, a subsidiary of Bally in North America. 

Created by Nishikado Tomohiro 40 years ago, the game pits you against a host of alien creatures that march across and down your screen. You have have three cannon guns, and four buildings to act as a shield against you as they slowly march down... until... they land and game over.

I was one of those kids 40 years ago that would find quarters wherever I could and head over to the Plantation Bowlerama to play Space Invaders... considering myself lucky to get past the third or fourth board.

I wasn't very good, but it was there I learned the old quarter taped to a string trick that would  - by fishing - get me 99 credits - without losing the quarter.

I figured that if it was going to screw up my youth by causing me not to study and thus become a stupid writer, I wasn't going to give them my money.

I would play for hours and hours and never get any better than I got, and would then sell my credits to some other kid.

One of those kids, was a guy named Nick, who was a couple of years younger than me, who now has a kids in the same school as my son Hudson... but one year behind.

Anyhow... after the obligatory sales pitch from the advertising in the video below, you can see a news story from CBC News on Space Invaders celebrating 40 years of stolen youth and quarters.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Coming Of Age Day 2018

Here's an interesting photo from a Coming of Age day celebration in Yokohama from January 8, 2018.

The holiday is held annually on the second Monday of January to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults.

While the photo makes it seem like it's just for women, it is for the young men, too.

While the women look resplendent in their kimono, I wanted to point out how many of them are holding phones.

I count six, but I could assume many more are simply not being held high enough for us to see.

Who the hell are they calling?

Everyone they know is there... friends, family, boyfriends... why do they need their phones?

Tradition sure ain't what it used to be.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sony's Robot Dog Aibo Is Back

For those of you with allergies to dogs, might I suggest the new and improved Aibo robot dog from Sony.

Originally available until 2006 when it was discontinued, Aibo is back as a cuter and smarter pooch.

Aibo has a camera in its nose, a microphone to pick up voice commands and can move 22 articulated parts of its body.

For comparison, click HERE to see what the old pooch looked like.

While it is only available in Japan right now, the approximately CD $1800 robot canine began shipping there on January 11, 2018.

For $1800, I could get a new dog or three... but then I'd have all that poop to scoop. So there are benefits to having a robot dog.

Plus.. there's no slobber.

It really is the Year of the Dog!

Andrew Joseph