GR NewsBot—June 02, 2011


Coming Soon: The Smartest Town in the World

“Imagine a city of the future, populated by wind-powered vehicles, with homes running on intelligent software that consume less power.” This is the plan for Fujisawa, Japan, a city about 31 miles to the west of Tokyo. A consortium of large Japanese companies, including Sumitomo Bank and Tokyo Gas, will build the Sustainable Smart Town (SST) on a vacant property where a Panasonic electronics factory used to stand. For the 3,000 residents who will live there, daily life will include electric cars, with charging stations throughout town, solar-powered homes, and a massive town-wide network to monitor energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions in the area by 70% from 1990s levels. And the whole thing should be fully populated and operational by 2018. This looks to be a very exciting and relevant project. (SST Overview at Tokyo Times, DVice and CEPro)

Happiness different for Americans, ethnic Asians

“Not everyone sees positive emotions such as joviality and self-assurance as unequivocally good.” If you are of European descent, you may sometimes wonder why your Asian friends seem more restrained and taciturn in situations where you would jump for joy. Likewise, you Asian folks may find it silly and odd that your Caucasian buddies smile and get giggly seemingly at the drop of a hat. Well, according to studies done at the Universities of Washington and Wisconsin-Madison, people of European and of Asian descent are to some extent culturally programmed to show emotions like happiness in different ways. Research suggests that Asian-Americans and Asian-born Asians, in particular, are often unsure or suspicious of expressing happy emotions unless they can determine how doing so will benefit the group rather than themselves. Interesting stuff which, unfortunately, may or may not reinforce certain clichés white and Asian ethnic groups have about each other. (Time Healthland – Asian vs. European Happy)

Magic “Money Liquid” in China

“Posing as Americans or Frenchmen, they promised to invest their $4 million funds into the victims’ business and even vowed to marry some of their victims.” There are a lot of benefits to the herbs and remedies found in traditional Chinese medicine, even though modern science cannot yet explain how they all work. However, we’re pretty sure there is no sound scientific way to use a magic elixir to convert counterfeit American dollars into real ones. But that did not stop a group of con men, who recently were able to cheat more than 50 victims in China out of more than US $300,000 with promises that such a money-conversion potion existed and actually worked. It seems amazing that anyone in any country would fall for such a scam, but they did. And Chinese police have had a hard time catching all the con artists because some victims had sex with the scammers and became too embarrassed to report them to police. (China Global Times – Money Liquid Con)

Hong Kong iPad2 Sales Scam

“Eager buyers waiting outside a Fortress outlet in Hong Kong’s upscale Elements mall last weekend were surprised to learn of the new iPad sales policy.” If you’re looking for an iPad2 in Hong Kong, you’re going to have to settle for more than you bargained for, and spend more money to get it. At some retailers, like Fortress, you’re going to have to buy one electronic product, such as a digital camera, in order to get a special deal that allows you to buy a 3G iPad2 instead of just the wi-fi version. “Deals” like this exist because the popularity of the 3G iPad2 caused many Hong Kong electronics retailers to sell out of the coveted devices more quickly than anticipated. Or end up with very low stock. And some consumers are not happy about the sales tactic retailer Fortress has created to sell the iPads. So, if you’re going to Hong Kong and want to buy an iPad2, make sure you ask your brother or dad if they need a digital camera. (Wall Street Journal Hong Kong – iPad2 “Deals”)

“Super Cool Biz” Japanese Office Fashions

“When we started Cool Biz in 2005, people said it was undignified and sloppy,” The image of the Japanese salaryman, with his suit, white shirt and dark necktie, is known the world over. It has become kind of a modern cultural cliché, actually. But in recent years, the energy consumption caused by office building air conditioners during summer months has become a growing concern for Japanese businesses. This summer, the concern will be even greater due to the recent meltdowns at the nuclear power facility in Fukushima. So, the Japanese government is stepping up the promotion of its “Super Cool Biz” business clothing campaign, which is designed to get office workers swap their business suits for cooler, more casual clothing during working hours. The hope is that cooler clothing will translate into less need for office air conditioning, which will lower summer energy consumption while Fukushima is offline. Tokyo, for example, can get pretty hot and muggy during July and August, so we hope this initiative keeps people very cool. And in style, of course. (BBC News Business – Cool Duds for Hot Weather)