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Today is 10/10/10...

That's 42 in binary.

Just sayin'...


Tokyo - where to go?

I a total flight of fancy (otherwise known as "boredom"), I thought "where might I like to go if I win the euroloto?". Somebody won €129 million (wasn't me, wah, back to work on Monday...).

Of course I looked in the country of cute girls and high tech. If I have that kind of money, why not?

Thing is, I'm not overly keen on cities. Never been to Paris, been to London a few times and most of those were too many. Been to Baltimore but don't remember it (possibly just as well according to mom!). As for Tokyo, I would make smallish exceptions for Akihabara (geek Mecca), but would I want to live there?

Here's a picture of a squished-in area in who-knows-where in the middle of Tokyo. Lots of sararymen and office blocks. Astonishingly these tiny houses are stuffed into the middle of this. As a Westerner I look at this and think "oh my God, I wouldn't want to walk alone there at night", but I don't know if Tokyo is as bad in this respect as some places I know of.

Looking north

But, on the other hand, if you spin 180°...

Looking north
Um, guys? Is this an entirely smart idea in an earthquake-prone region? Should I mention last year's animé "Tokyo Magnitude 8.0"?

For those wanting to look around - here's a link to this place.


The problem with looking around Japan is that the Japanese are not overly fond of Streetview. It has been considered an invasion of privacy and "cultural insensitivity". I'm not sure what that means, but certainly the ability to peer over people's fences could be unwelcome. In Japan, some areas (Tokyo centre) are well covered while some parts (quite a lot actually) are not covered at all.

Japanese Street View
The blue lined roads (or rather the bright blue splotches that aren't the oceans) is Street View coverage. Coverage is increasing, but slowly.

I like Street View, I like the ability to pick places, look around. You might spot a boy groping a girl's boobs (originally not far from the area pictured above, but scene deleted). You might spot a slain dead guy lying on the ground (Brazil). You might spot a drug bust (US) or a drunk chick taking a dump between parked cars (Spain). But the thing is, apart from some minor staged events (Vikings chasing the car or The Stig), the GoogleMobile does not cause these events to occur. In the time it took to read this sentence, some evil no-good prick got his brains blown out, a homeless person was beaten for the sake of it, an innocent person was murdered, and two girls were raped by their step-fathers. These things happen in our society, and Google redacting the imagery or governments wailing about privacy isn't going to make these problems go away.
From a technical viewpoint, Street View is absolutely fascinating. The collation of incredible amounts of imagery and geolocation data to combine placement and 360 degree photos with satellite/high-altitude images and map data, plus in some places, a rendered 3D model... not just making this all available to the public for anybody who has a browser and reasonably fast internet, but the very idea of making it all work - it's like the Domesday Book for our generation. Forget all the bollocks written in the official publications and Wiki pages, here is a growing collection of a slice of time in the history of our planet. We all busy ourselves with little things, a population of around seven billion, and as Street View expands, you can see millions of us going about our daily business. If, somehow, this data can survive well into the future, it will portray an excellent and vividly detailed example of life in the great technological era (i.e. before fossil fuels run out, America wages war over oil (again), and numerous metropolis areas are turned into semi-abandoned ruins).

On the other hand, people might object to having their location so obvious. You could plan a raid on a property, perhaps the house of a guy that's annoyed you in a forum, and use Street View imagery to note the location of the telephone pole to cut comms, is the electric box accessible? Places to hide afterwards? It doesn't take much to blend Street View with any number of heist movies.
This, I think, is not so much a failing of Google as a leak of privacy on the Internet. If you look around my b.log you'll see that I live in north-west France in a stone house with a fair wodge of land. Well, gee, that narrows it down! Is Street View here? Perhaps. But I am not going to provide a link if it is and my address is not published on-line, thus our stone house will look like hundreds of other stone houses.
In essence, I feel that Street View is only a threat if you're a privacy nut (say hello to RIPA!), somebody "famous" (note the scare quotes), or have a reason to feel pursecuted.


But, then, where should I live? I've thought, for a while, that the Kanagawa area looks quite nice, but there are few images of the area and there's precious little Street View to the left of the region. Here's a nice looking place, but it's a user-supplied photo...

Link to photo in Google Maps (can't be embedded)

This means I should look around for somewhere that has Street View. Somewhere with access to the city if need be, but not in the middle of nowhere. Where I am now is the middle of nowhere. Just look up Nowhere, France (which would actually be "Nulle Part, France") and you'll find us. ☺

So then, I drop the little yellow guy on all sorts of locations, and given the the Japanese are squished between mountains and oceans, it probably shouldn't be a surprise to find a lot of "oooh, cute house" with a smallish concrete tower block beside it. And given Japan's economic growth up until recent times, it probably shouldn't be a surprise to find little hamlet-like areas with big prefab metal industrial-looking buildings dropped in the middle of them.

Out to the west, a place called Akiruno City, specifically Itsukaichi... Looks like a nice peaceful place - here, I've pasted together bits of Street View imagery.

Nice looking area, left half
Nice looking area, right half
You can, if you'd prefer, look at the full panorama (3600x478, 226KiB) or, better yet, go visit there!

If you want down the road a short way, there's a "JHS" which stands for Junior High School which looking at some of the kids around in nearby images would be teenagers - UK secondary. If you go down the road, just on the left at the junction is a combini and a bunch of vending machines for... all sorts. Used panties too, for all I know. Emphasis on used. This must be to cater for the Hikikomori demographic, assuming they're able to cope with a non-2D world.
Going the other way, another vending machine of some sort, and a fair number of girls dressed like secretaries (sorry, no serafuku ☺). Carrying on down astonishingly tiny windy roads you will eventually reach a main road, with lots of weird and wonderful shops. No idea what they offer (all sushi houses for all I know) and the resolution is too crap to peer in windows.

This place is about 55km more or less directly west of Tokyo Tower. Google reckons it is about an 11 minute walk to the local railway station. As we're getting into the mountains, it would seem that the line ends in Akiruno City. Literally. It ranks high on the WTF? scale - go take a look!

It doesn't look like the most prosperous place, but there's life - and schools and shops and vending machines and the roads look reasonably well maintained, even if they're only about wide enough for two bicycles to pass!


Grrr! Argh! Remakes!

One thing that really riles me is when a good/classic movie is pointlessly remade, or worse, remade and screwed up.

This is why I'm glad that Battle Royale is not being remade. Well, it is. It's been in "development hell" for years. The last I heard, the sort-of script was some wayward teenagers on an island in a sick reality TV like... oh my God. NO.
It's a bunch of good looking children (and I don't mean thirty year olds in school uniform) having to slaughter each other with random weapons in order to be the last one alive, while pseudomilitary guys keep score. Some friendships are destroyed, some persist. The film is brutal and some things are difficult to watch, while being very touching. Behind the grim gorefest is a biting social commentary, but I don't hold out any illusions of Hollywood understanding this.

I really really think the movie studios should quit suing the movie downloaders for billions and instead just, like, quit.

In alphabetical order (I hope!):

  • Akira
    If you watch animé and you've not seen both this and Ghost In The Shell, you're just not serious... or maybe you're a girl and fruits basket does it for you.
    A live action Akira could perhaps work, but it has massive shoes to fill as the 1988 animated version is one of the cornerstones of animation.

  • Child's Play
    Killer dolls. Yawn.

  • Death Note
    God, people, just deal with the subtitles. Or learn Japanese. I think subs would be easier!

  • Death Wish
    Charles Bronson and a very big gun. Was this the one were he layed waste to all the watermelons? This film is as old as I am, and is another genre-defining one. Good God above, next you'll be telling me they'll be remaking "Rambo". Just leave it alone, alright?

  • Drop Dead Fred
    The very cute Phoebe Cates as a grown-up who suffers the return of her mischievous imaginary friend, who is now also grown up. This film was black comedy at its finest.
    It is to be remade with Russell Brand taking the role of Fred in a new re-imagining of the story. There is nothing I can say about this idea that would not contain many many expletives...

  • Dune
    Look, let's face it. Who the hell understood the film in the first place? It was a perfectly paced visual masterpiece (in its time) that left you feeling satisfied but confused. It was a film you could talk about all night long.

  • Escape from New York
    Okay, it was a pretty daft film, but amusing all the same. This could be better, or worse, or pointlessly samey.

  • F/X
    You know... Murder by Illusion, that Aussie special effects guy. Quirky and interesting idea for a movie, it doesn't need a remake, it needs another sequel with all modern kit!

  • Footloose
    Hahaha! This film, like Flashdance, were so much a product of their time. And played so earnestly despite pretty idiotic plots. Footloose was Kevin Bacon moving to a small town where dancing has been outlawed, showing the local kids how to dance...
    Why remake this?
    Still, at least they've left the other big dance movie alone (sorry Julia Stiles, I'm talking about Dirty Dancing).

  • Judge Dread
    The uncharitable could say it's about time they got around to making a movie version of this... It's not that Stallone's vehicle was bad, it just wasn't... right...

  • Mad Max
    I shudder to think how bad this will turn out. Yes, even worse than Beyond Thunderdome. For f...s sake, it'll have Charlize Theron in it.
    This isn't to slam her, but what made Mad Max special is that it was a low budget cult film that was happy being a low budget cult film, and was a very successful low budget cult film. I am repeating the phrase low budget cult film a lot because Thunderdome went all commercial, brought in Tina Turner, and while there were some good ideas, it just didn't work.
    I can easily imagine this remake just trying too damn hard.

  • Overboard
    Remember the bubbly Goldie Hawn falls off a ship, loses her memory, and then meets Kurt Russell? The girl now is to be J-Lo and the guy is Julian Scott Urena - whoever the hell that is...

  • Porky's
    Most likely in development hell; if it is made, will be produced by shock-jock Howard Stern. I have a really bad feeling about this...

  • Short Circuit
    Robot becomes self aware, escapes, meets a chick called Stephanie, falls in love... If you're reading my b.log volutarily and not the result of a random Google search, then you will know exactly this movie.
    I guess Wall-E reinvented the "cute 'bot" for the current generation.

  • The Birds
    Die mother.... DIE!
    Everybody involved in any remake of the Hitchcock classic (from '63) should forever find themselves doomed to wait tables and all the other things movie people do when it all goes wrong.
    Some things just shouldn't be touched.
    This is one of them.

  • The Neverending Story
    In a world.
    Wolfgang Petersen outdid himself with astonishing set pieces and special effects that were no doubt groundbreaking in their day. It was, then, the most expensive film ever made in Germany.
    We can do a lot better with GCI - look at the likes of Deep Space Nine. But, problem is, CGI looks like CGI...

Know of any other remake horrors? Leave your comment below!


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