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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. I have never been to Japan, but should I go some day, I'll keep an eye out for the railroad personnel who constantly point at things:
Train conductors, drivers and station staff play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of the lines; a key aspect of which is the variety of physical gestures and vocal calls that they perform while undertaking their duties. While these might strike visitors as silly, the movements and shouts are a Japanese-innovated industrial safety method known as pointing-and-calling; a system that reduces workplace errors by up to 85 percent.
Other Japanese industries have also improved safety with the shisa kanko ("point and call") system, and even limited adoption elsewhere has led to improved safety.

2. In the "sounds odd until you think about it" department today, we have Alaska's humongous produce:
Alaska's summer sun ... gives growers an edge, says Steve Brown, an agricultural agent at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who also serves on the fair's board of directors. Basking in as much as 20 hours of sunshine per day, Alaskan crops get a photosynthesis bonus, allowing them to produce more plant material and grow larger. Brassicas like cabbage do especially well, says Brown.
With that going for them, giant crop competitions are a common event at state fairs, so farmers have naturally come up with strategies to make their produce even bigger.

A video about this indicates that, although you might expect such large specimens to be woody, that is not the case.

3. Concerned about artificial intelligence-aided camera surveillance? The good news is that researchers have developed clothing that "hides" you from such systems:
[University of Maryland's Tom] Goldstein and a team of students late last year published a paper studying "adversarial attacks on state-of-the-art object detection frameworks." In short, they looked at how some of the algorithms that allow for the detection of people in images work, then subverted them basically by tricking the code into thinking it was looking at something else. [link omitted]
The bad news is the good news: The clothing that can do this is so unsightly that you'll stick out like a sore thumb to anything possessing actual intelligence.

4. Long-time readers here may recall that I once passed along the story of how Colonel Sanders became a sort of Father Christmas in Japan.

The story of "How Santa Survived the Soviet Era" gives us Ded Moroz, a figure who might rival the Colonel in terms of strangeness to the American public:
Ded_Moroz.jpg
Image by Sergeev Pavel, via Wikimedia, public domain.
"The vast majority of people living in these countries [Russia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine] still perceive the New Year as a much more important holiday than Christmas and most of those claiming to celebrate Christmas view it merely as an occasion to launch a party that usually lacks any religious content or even the sentimental sweetness typical of Christmas celebrations in the West," says Alexander Statiev, a historian at the University of Waterloo who focuses on the Soviet Union.

Through it all, there is Ded Moroz and his granddaughter Snegurochka. They appear in seasonal cartoons, on greeting cards, in advertisements. People dress up as these characters for celebrations of various sorts. There are many classic Ded Moroz movies, which people watch every year, the equivalent of A Charlie Brown Christmas or Home Alone. [link omitted]
So, while he's an obvious variant on Santa, Ded Moroz ("Grandfather Frost") is a New Year's character.

-- CAV

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