Saturday, February 8, 2014


Here's a cool shot published by The Wall Street Journal showing folks in Wakayama, Japan, receiving fire from special torchbearers at a festival there on Thursday. Once the torches are lighted, temple gates are opened and participants run down hundreds of stone steps to the bottom of a mountain - an ancient ritual and part of the annual New Year's celebration. 

Photo credit: Everett Kennedy Brown/European Pressphoto Agency

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

just in time for Valentine's Day

Today I learned the following while listening to a podcast of my favorite NPR program, the news quiz show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. It came up during Lightning Fill In the Blank

Host Peter Sagal: "Japan has introduced the Love Bra, which has a clasp that will only unlock if the wearer's heart rate elevates to a certain level. Meaning that the bra can only be removed if the user is in love. Or... jogging."

Panelist Mo Rocca: "Or... had a lot of coffee."

Sagal: "Or...thinking about her bra suddenly popping open."

You can watch the ad from Japanese lingerie brand Ravijour here. In it, a man in a white coat explains that when we're excited, the adrenal medulla secretes catecholamine; this affects the autonomic nerve, which stimulates the heart rate. (It's science!) Then the company's technical director chimes in with a bit about the bra's built-in sensor detecting that heart rate, and using Bluetooth to transmit the data to a smartphone app for analysis.
"Like a chastity belt for the social network age, the bra remains firmly locked shut most of the time, to defend its wearer from hordes of sleazy menfolk," The Guardian's culture blog reports. When it's true love, the bra "dutifully bursts open with a gleeful spring." 
Did I mention there's an ad?