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‘Please watch over us from heaven’: In Japan, 25,000 people use ‘wind phone’ to communicate with dead loved ones

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An old, disconnected black telephone stands in a telephone booth in the town of Otsuchi — about 20 minutes’ drive from Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture. The phone has been visited by at least 25,000 people since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, people who have come to convey their feelings to departed loved ones “through the wind.”

The phone was set up by 72-year-old garden designer Itaru Sasaki in his garden, on a small hill with a commanding view of the calm sea in the Namiita area of Otsuchi. Calling it “Kaze no Denwa” (The phone of the wind), Sasaki set up the phone after the death of his cousin.

The garden is open to all, and there is a notebook placed by the phone, the fourth such notebook to be used. Many people have left messages for their loved ones in the books.

Sasaki began work on the booth in November 2010, and completed it shortly after the disaster. Newspapers and other media reported on it, and many people who had suddenly lost a loved one began to visit.

Located on the Sanriku coast, Otsuchi was devastated by tsunami in March 2011. In the town, 1,285 people died or went missing, about 10 per cent of the town’s population. Forty people, including the mayor, died in the former town office.

“Come home soon. From your father, mother and grandparents.”

Sasaki found this message in the notebook in the autumn of 2013, and eventually met the family who had written it. They were looking for their son, who went missing in the disaster. After graduating from a university, their son had started working at an IT firm and was visiting Otsuchi on a business trip when the disaster struck.

The mother revealed her feelings to Sasaki, saying: “I have no idea what I’ve been doing since that moment. Time has stood still for me since that day.”

Sasaki said messages in the notebooks have changed as time has passed since the disaster. People have started to accept the deaths of their loved ones, writing things such as “Please watch over us from heaven.”

In addition to people lost to the earthquake and tsunami, families who lost a loved one in an accident or from suicide are also coming to the garden to reflect on their memories of that person.

One morning in early July, I visited the garden to find a photo in the telephone booth in which an apparently foreign man is smiling at someone. I felt like someone had just had a conversation with him.

The phone has become known even overseas, and there are messages in the notebooks recalling people lost abroad.

On Tuesday Sasaki’s book titled Kaze no Denwa — Daishinsai Kara Rokunen, Kaze no Denwa wo Tooshite Mieru Koto (The phone of the wind — what I have seen via the phone in the six years since the earthquake) was published by Kazama Shobo. The book will be available at major bookstores in late August.

“The telephone is not connected, but people feel like their lost loved ones are there listening on the other end of the line,” Sasaki said. “I want people to resume their lives as soon as possible by expressing their feelings.”

 





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jchalifour
5 days ago
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Montréal
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ORC – Open Research Central: ‘repulsive and malevolent’ or ‘lover of rebellion and freedom’

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Today, we are introducing a new meaning to the word “ORC”.

Many will know Orc as the “brutish, aggressive, repulsive and generally malevolent species” in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Fewer perhaps will be reminded of Orc the “Lover of Wild Rebellion” in William Blake’s “America: a Prophecy”. The Tate Gallery say Blake’s Orc “symbolises the spirit of rebellion and the love of freedom which provoked the American War of Independence and the French Revolution.”

We believe our new ORC is closer to Blake’s than Tolkien’s Orc. Our ORC is Open Research Central, it is a portal through which research in any field can be submitted for formal publication on one of the open research publishing platforms that we provide for funders and institutes.

We envision Open Research Central as a portal that will ultimately free researchers from the prisons of academic journals and become the default way in all research areas to formally publish their findings. It will be underpinned by several key principles: immediate publication; open data; open, transparent post publication peer review; and fully open access to all. If we succeed we will bring about a revolution in how academic researchers share their findings. A revolution with far reaching consequences that will significantly benefit not only the way research progresses but also our society in general, so dependent on the research that the sciences, engineering and humanities produce.

There is a great need for this fundamental change because researchers are currently prisoners of a system that forces them to formally communicate their findings exclusively through academic journals. Their career prospects and future funding depends on publishing in journals that have the most prestige or the highest “impact factor”. This metric is almost universally recognised as problematic and an inappropriate way of judging the quality of individual articles, yet it has become so deeply embedded in the way funding and jobs in research are decided that all efforts to bypass it have, so far, been ineffective.

This forced dependence upon journals handling the researchers’ contributions to their field has other significant problems that can damage the progress of research. These problems are a consequence of the way journals select what they accept for publication and what they reject.  This selection process causes significant delays in making findings available to other researchers and to the people who need them most. In addition, the secretive process operated by most journals – often involving anonymous peer review – keeps the authors (and even reviewers) in the dark on how decisions are made by journal editors, and contains a significant risk of unfairness. In addition, a significant proportion of journals do not allow access to their articles without a subscription or a significant author charge.

 

There is a better way

At F1000, we have developed over the past few years an alternative option that enables researchers to share their findings while avoiding many of the problems of the traditional journal-based model. F1000Research pioneered a new publication model four years ago in which articles are published immediately and then undergo invited peer review that occurs post-publication. The viability of this model for the dissemination of research results has been proven by the recent success of Wellcome Open Research and it will soon be joined by Gates Open ResearchUCL Child Health Open Research, and many more to come. All these funder and institutional platforms will participate in Open Research Central. Through Open Research Central, we will grow a publishing model that truly focuses on serving the needs of authors and their research communities. We will do this by removing many of the problematic barriers faced during the traditional publishing process, such as blind peer review, publishing only positive results, and reproducibility.

We have approached many of the leading funding bodies and research institutions in the world and we have been met with interest, even enthusiasm for introducing this scheme through platforms where funders offer this new option to the researchers they fund for publishing their research. The process will be controlled by researchers themselves through the organizations that have invested in them and their work. This process, which is rapid, transparent, accountable and much less expensive than existing models, may produce a truly profound change in the way research is communicated, accessed and evaluated.

 

This revolution has a future

Just as we believe researchers should be in control of how they publish their results, they should also guide the future of this project.

Open Research Central is the continuation of the process that started with the platforms operated by individual funders and with their approval and co-operation. It will combine in one place all the research reports published on any of the platforms, and will soon introduce a way for any researcher to publish their reports directly through ORC.  The central platform will automatically guide the authors through the process most appropriate to their subject and their funders, making the task of publishing research much simpler and easier.

We expect Open Research Central to be ultimately governed and controlled by the international research community who would have the responsibility of overseeing the direction and rules of the service.

Defenders of the status quo may see this as repulsive and malevolent, but like Blake’s Orc, we hope that our ORC will bring to researchers everywhere a spirit of rebellion and love of freedom, liberating them from the tyranny of research journals.

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jchalifour
39 days ago
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Painful memories could be erased, new study says

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384619288

Scientists have taken another step toward being able to selectively edit out bad memories while leaving the good ones intact — something that could one day be used to treat people suffering from PTSD or other anxiety disorders linked to painful memories.

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jchalifour
47 days ago
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Disturbing, this.
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Microaggressions?

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Prejudice remains a huge social evil but evidence for harm caused by microaggression is incoherent, unscientific and weak

By Scott O Lilienfeld

Read at Aeon

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jchalifour
53 days ago
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I get the impression that when we talk about this subject we often take the notion of a microagression as one particular thing that shares a giver and receiver (the aggressor and the aggressed).

Why can we not say that someone experiences a microaggression without requiring that someone else perpetrate the aggression? It seems reasonable that the two do not need to coincide. This would permit us to recognize the subjective experience of the aggressed without turning the “giver” into an “aggressor”.

In many of the article’s examples (and other’s that I’ve heard) someone might be accused of a microagression even though there are multiple ways to interpret that person’s speech (act, whatever) without them necessarily being an aggression. A person feeling aggressed can have their experience validated nonetheless, while voices need not be prevented so that we might grow a bit in our understanding of each other.
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“Vantablack” is the darkest pigment ever made — and thereR...

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busts of lenin, one covered in vantablack and one regular bronze
“Vantablack” is the darkest pigment ever made — and there’s a pitched battle between artists over who gets access to it. If you’ve ever wondered hey, where did all the xenon on Earth come from? (and who hasn’t?), here’s your answer: Comets. An exhaustive list of ever lie told by President Trump since he assumed office. An experiment finds that drones can deliver defibrillation equipment to remote areas 4X faster than ambulances. Are casinos legally liable for the compulsive behavior of problem gambers? Why “I was afraid” has become the new and unchallengeable excuse when a police officer kills a black man. A video game that shows what 4D objects would look like passing through a 3D world.

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jchalifour
54 days ago
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Is the Problem With Tech Companies That They're Companies?

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What news do people see? What do they believe to be true about the world around them? What do they do with that information as citizens—as voters?

Facebook, Google, and other giant technology companies have significant control over the answers to those questions. It’s no exaggeration to say that their decisions shape how billions see the world and, in the long run, will contribute to, or detract from, the health of governing institutions around the world.

That’s a hefty responsibility, but one that many tech companies say they want to uphold. For example, in an open letter in February, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that the company’s next focus would be “developing the social infrastructure for community—for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all.”

The trouble is not a lack of good intentions on Zuckerberg’s part, but the system he is working within, the Stanford professor Rob Reich argued on Monday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

Reich said that Zuckerberg’s effort to position Facebook as committed to a civic purpose is “in deep and obvious tension with the for-profit business model of a technology company.” The company’s shareholders are bound to be focused on increasing revenue, which in Facebook’s case comes from user engagement. And, as Reich put it, “it’s not the case that responsible civic engagement will always coincide with maximizing engagement on the platform.”

For example, Facebook’s news feed may elicit more user engagement when the content provokes some sort of emotional response, as is the case with cute babies and conspiracy theories. Cute babies are well and good for democracy, but those conspiracy theories aren’t. Tamping down on them may lead to less user engagement, and Facebook will find that its commitment to civic engagement is at odds with its need to increase profits.

The idea that a company’s sole obligation is to its shareholders comes from a 1970 article in The New York Times Magazine by the economist Milton Friedman calledThe Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” In it, Friedman argued that if corporate executives try to pursue any sort of “social responsibility” (and Friedman always put that in quotes), the executive was in a sense betraying the shareholders who had hired him. Instead, he must solely pursue profits, and leave social commitments out of it. Reich says that these ideas have contributed to a libertarian “background ethos” in Silicon Valley, where people believe that “you can have your social responsibility as a philanthropist, and in the meantime make sure you are responding to your shareholders by maximizing profit.”

Reich believes that some sort of oversight is necessary to ensure that big tech companies make decisions that are in the public’s interest, even when it’s at odds with increasing revenue. Relying on CEOs and boards of directors to choose to do good doesn’t cut it, he said: “I think we need to think structurally about how to create a system of checks and balances or an incentive arrangement so that whether you get a good person or a bad person or a good board or a bad board, it’s just much more difficult for any particular company or any particular sector to do a whole bunch of things that threaten nothing less than the integrity of our democratic institutions.”

Reich said that one model for corporations might be creating something like ethics committees that hospitals have. When hospitals run into complicated medical questions, they can refer the question to the ethics committee whose members—doctors, patients, community members, executives, and so onrepresent a variety of interests. That group dives deeply into the question and comes up with a course of action that takes into account various values they prize. It’s a complicated, thoughtful process—“not an algorithm where you spit out the correct moral answer at the end of the day,” Reich said.

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jchalifour
54 days ago
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Turn them into co-ops!
https://ica.coop/en/what-co-operative --
That's the point of a co-op, fostering the well-being of its community.
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