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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama interview sets '60 Minutes' viewership record

60_obama_2 Barack Obama's first televised post-election interview gave Sunday night's "60 Minutes" its biggest audience in at least nine years.

The CBS News program was seen by 24.5 million viewers and earned a 6.4 preliminary adults 18-49 rating. That marks the show's largest viewership since 1999.

Veteran correspondent Steve Kroft interviewed Obama about a range of domestic and foreign policy issues in the show's opening 15-minute segment, then he spoke to Obama alongside his wife, Michelle, for two more segments covering how the election has impacted their family.

Obama said the government should help the U.S. auto industry and reiterated his plan to pull troops out of Iraq, though the president-elect largely refused to answer questions about his cabinet choices, saying only that announcements would be made "soon." Though Kroft asked significant issue-oriented questions, he also delved into territory that some viewers might consider frivolous -- such as the oft-discussed First Family's dog acquisition plans and college football.

"60 Minutes" has been on a ratings roll this season. Last week's episode interviewing Obama's top advisers gave the program its highest audience in a year. With Sunday's episode, the 40-year-old news magazine will likely be the most-watched program for the second week in a row. Even with the record-setting preliminary numbers, CBS expects "Minutes" to get even higher ratings tomorrow when the nationals are released (some time zones aired the lower-rated "The Amazing Race" during part of the "Minutes" hour).

The "Minutes" boost wasn't enough to put CBS over the top for the evening, however. NBC still won with "Sunday Night Football" (17 million, 6.5), Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins, and pregame shows.

CBS was second with "Minutes," followed by "Race" (12.2 million, 3.5), "Cold Case" (12 million, 2.9) and "The Unit" (9.8 million, 2.5).

ABC was third with some NASCAR lead-in going into “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (10.2 million, 3.4), “Desperate Housewives” (16.6 million, 6.1) and “Brothers & Sisters” (10.1 million, 3.7). ABC’s shows were on par, with “Housewives” up slightly from last week.

Fourth-place Fox’s was also largely unchanged from last week, airing “The Simpsons” (8.5 million, 3.9), “King of the Hill” (7 million, 3.2), “Family Guy” (8.5 million, 4.2) and “American Dad” (6.8 million, 3.2). The CW was on par (averaging 600,000, 0.2).

SUNDAY, Nov. 16, 2008







3.9/9 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
10.2 mil, 3.4/8
Desperate Housewives
16.6 mil, 6.1/13
Brothers & Sisters
10.1 mil, 3.7/9
4.4/11 Amazing Race 13
12.2 mil, 3.5/12
Cold Case
12.0 mil, 2.9/6
The Unit
9.8 mil, 2.8/7
5.3/13 Football Night in America
11.8 mil, 4.5/11
Sunday Night Football
17.0 mil, 6.5/14
3.1/7 The Simpsons
8.5 mil, 3.9/9
King of the Hill
7.0 mil,3.2/7
Family Guy
8.5 mil, 4.2/9
American Dad
6.8 mil, 3.2/7
No programming
0.2/0 Valentine
0.6 mil 0.2/0
Easy Money
0.4 mil 0.1/0
No programming

Stairway to Penthouse

more info here: Piedra de Penol, Columbia

more pics: google images

NFL admits mistake in Steelers game; error costly to gamblers

By Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

Mike Tomlin and Steelers emerged with an 11-10 victory against San Diego on Sunday, and the NFL acknowledged it wrong nullified a touchdown at the end of the game that would have boosted the margin of victory.

By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
PITTSBURGH — The officiating mistake and touchdown that wasn't at the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 11-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers didn't change the result. From a betting standpoint, it was huge.

"It didn't have an effect on the outcome of the game NFL-wise, record-wise, but it definitely was a big difference for people that had (bets on) Pittsburgh," says Sean Van Patten, odds maker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which provides point spreads to Las Vegas casinos for legal sports betting.

Van Patten said the big winners to the tune of millions of dollars were the sports books, which take the wagers, because the public tends to bet on favorites. His firm had the Steelers favored by 4½-points.

"Say a weekend rolls in where 10 favorites cover the spread. That's always a bad weekend for the sports books," said Van Patten. "The regular Joe that walks in off the street and bets, I would say probably 85-90% of the time they're (betting) on the favorite. … The professional (bettors) are more where you get your underdog money. But the public money dwarfs that money."

Trailing by a point, the Chargers had one play left from their own 21-yard line with five seconds remaining. Philip Rivers threw a short pass to running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

Then it got wild.

Tomlinson tossed the ball to wide receiver Chris Chambers. When Chambers tried a toss of his own, the ball was batted away by Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, who picked it up and ran 12 yards into the end zone.

The officials signaled touchdown. Pittsburgh led 17-10 on the scoreboard. Steelers swarmed the field, then returned to their sideline for an extra point kick that never came.

After a replay review and consultation by the officials, the touchdown was taken off the board. The 11-10 score stood. But after the game, referee Scott Green said the crew had made a mistake and that the touchdown should have counted.

"We should have let the play go through to the end," said Green.

The play originally was ruled penalty-free. No flags.

The NFL confirmed the mistake on Monday, but said the final score of the game will not change.

After the play the instant replay official buzzed down and told the crew it needed to review the toss from Tomlinson to Chambers, that it appeared to be an illegal forward pass and not a legal backward lateral.

Green looked at the replay and agreed it was forward. "From the release point to where it was touched, it was about a yard forward," Mike Pereira, NFL vice president of officiating, said Monday on ESPN.

Green then made the announcement that there was an illegal forward pass, that the penalty was declined and that it was a touchdown. "Which is right, and that's where we should have remained," said Pereira.

Under NFL rules, had the illegal forward pass hit the ground, it would have ended the play. The toss from Tomlinson to Chambers did not hit the ground.

The problem was the officials got together again.

Pereira said that in a moment of "confusion" they got the Chambers toss (a legal lateral that hit the ground) into their conversation about the Tomlinson toss (an illegal forward pass that did not hit the ground).

Somehow, they applied the fact that the ball hit the ground incorrectly to the Tomlinson toss.

"That led to the misinterpretation and taking away the points, which they shouldn't have," said Pereira.

Said Green: "The first pass was the one that was illegal, but it only kills the play if it hits the ground. … There was some confusion over which pass we were talking about, and it was decided that it was the second pass that was illegal that did hit the ground, and therefore we killed the play there."

They got it wrong.

Van Patten said that while the sports books made money, they would rather not have such complex outcomes and mistaken calls.

"They don't really care for that situation much," he said.

"You have a whole bunch of disgruntled bettors. … They've got people standing in line thinking they won and they didn't. And they also still like to see the integrity of the game and the right call made regardless of what the result may be."

Oregon Woman Loses $400,000 to Nigerian E-Mail Scam

SWEET HOME, Ore. — An Oregon woman who is out $400,000 after falling for a well-known Internet scam says she wasn't a sucker or an easy mark.

Janella Spears of Sweet Home says she simply became curious when she received an e-mail promising her $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative identified as J.B. Spears with a little money up front.

Spears told KATU-TV about the scammers' ability to identify her relative by name was persuasive.

"That's what got me to believe it," She said. "So, why wouldn't you send over $100?"

• Click here to visit's Cybersecurity Center.

Spears, who is a nursing administrator and CPR teacher, said she mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car, and ran through her husband's retirement account.

"The retirement he was dreaming of — cruising and going around and seeing America — is pretty much gone for him right now," she said.

She estimates it will take two years to clear the debt that accumulated in the more than two years she spent sending money to con artists.

Her family and bank officials told her it was all a scam, she said, and begged her to stop, but she persisted because she became obsessed with getting paid.

The scheme is often called the "Nigerian scam" and it's familiar to many people with e-mail accounts. It still exists and it still works.

Spears first sent $100 through an untraceable wire service as directed by the scammers. Then, more multimillion dollar promises followed so long as she sent more money.

The scammers sent Spears official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and the United Nations. President Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller were also involved, the e-mails said, and needed her help.

They sent official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and even from the United Nations, saying her payment was "guaranteed."

But it wasn't and now Spears is paying the price for her costly lesson.

"The hope is [other people] are not going to fall as hard as I fell," Spears said.

• Click here to read more on this story on the Web site of Portland, Ore., TV station KATU.

Jinni Helps You Pick The Perfect Flick

by Jason Kincaid

Movies are easier to access than ever, but many of us still struggle with the age old question, “What to watch?” The days of milling around Blockbuster may be gone for many people, but most cable boxes and online movie stores offer little in the way of movie recommendations. Jinni, a new startup launching today in private beta, is looking to help. The site has compiled an index of 10,000 movies and television shows that can be searched using natural language. TechCrunch readers can grab one of 500 exclusive invitations by registering here.

The site has created what it calls “The Movie Genome” - a database of movies tagged by a team of humans aided by a computer algorithm, with attributes spanning fifty categories. The database is reminiscent of Pandora’s Music Genome Project (which is also sorted by human professionals), though it is significantly smaller at this point. Users can either search for movies based on a manual search, browse through movies by their attributes, or can generate recommendations after completing a brief test that determines their movie personality. After finding a movie or show they’re interested in, users can buy or rent them (or in some cases, watch them free) through a number of linked services, including Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix.

In practice the search seems to work well. Each match is visually displayed in a grid as a thumbnail, with the most relevant matches emphasized with larger images. This style makes it easier to quickly identify movies you might be interested in, and also makes false matches less jarring.

Jinni will see heavy competition from existing movie sites like Netflix, which have invested years into developing accurate recommendation algorithms (Netflix even offers a $1 million Prize if anyone can best its algorithm). But Jinni has a fun, intuitive interface and seems to work well, so it may be able to carve out its own slice in the market. Other players in this space include Flixter, which offers social recommendations and TheFilter, which launched movie recommendations earlier this year.

Donovan McNabb didn't know a NFL game could end in a tie

The Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals battled it out in the trenches for 75 minutes Sunday, scratching and clawing for every yard. When the dust settled, it ended in an extremely unsatisfying 13-13 tie.

But the real news is that Eagles quarterback and future Hall of Famer* Donovan McNabb was blissfully unaware that ties existed in professional football.

"No one was more surprised than McNabb that it ended so soon -- 3 hours, 46 minutes after the opening kickoff. The 10th-year quarterback thought it would keep going until someone scored, just like a playoff game.


''I didn't know that,'' McNabb said. ''I've never been part of a tie. I never even knew it was in the rule book. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game."
Consider for a moment the juxtaposition of one of the league's premiere players and the face of a franchise not realizing the rules of overtime against a nation of armchair quarterbacks armed to the teeth w ith an intimate knowledge of football rules, history and statistics.

Consider it a small victory for Joe Six Pack. Something to you knew that Donovan didn't.

Maybe I'm the only one who is shocked by the irony of fans sitting at home knowing the rules and the signal-caller of one of the teams out there waiting for a second overtime to begin.
McNabb can tak e solace in the fact that he isn't the only one unhappy with splitting the chunky soup of victory equally. Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick called the outcome "terrible."

The last tie in the NFL was in 2002, when the Steelers and Falcons fought to a 34-34 stalemate.

It raises the question if ties should exist in professional football. It seems like so much time is spent debating the overtime system -- one that so often is decided by who gets the ball first -- and so little on whether calling a game a draw is a reasonable thing to do.

So, should the NFL look into changing this, or are you OK with a tie every six years or so?

*Subject to interpretation.

Can you Say Sonic BOOM

The Prandtl–Glauert singularity (sometimes referred to as a "vapor cone"), is the point at which a sudden drop in air pressure occurs, and is generally accepted as the cause of the visible condensation cloud that often surrounds an aircraft traveling at transonic speeds, though there remains some debate. It is an example of a mathematical singularity in aerodynamics. One view of this phenomenon is that it exhibits the effect of compressibility and the so-called "N-wave". The N-wave is the time variant pressure profile seen by a static observer when a sonic compression wave passes......

IPod Speakers Made From Paper Cups and Sticks

By Charlie Sorrel Email


Next time you're down at the diner you might try out the CupSpeakers from Dmitry Zagga. His minimalist speaker design consists four paper cups, a couple of toothpicks and an iPod.

It is, as he puts it, an iPod Ghetto Accessory. There's something very right about these cheap horn speakers -- the clean white lines perfectly match the 2003 2G iPod. But we very much doubt the sound would be louder than that from the earbuds alone. On the other hand, they're likely to be a lot better than some passive speaker systems you can buy.

Product page [Zagga via Yanko via Cult of Mac]

Chinese pirates crack Blu-ray DRM, sell pirated HD discs

By Jacqui Cheng

Forget boring old standard-def DVDs—movie pirates have moved on to selling high-definition discs in an effort to make money on the HD craze. The HD discs are not genuine Blu-ray discs and don't boast as high resolution as Blu-ray does, but they're apparently good enough to fool many consumers, and the movie industry is worried.

Law enforcement in Shenzhen, China, raided a warehouse last month that contained HD copies of a number of popular movies. There were over 800 discs (so, what is that, like eight spindles?) that were packaged in faux Blu-ray boxes, complete with holograms to make them appear legitimate. According to the Motion Picture Association International, this is the "first ever" seizure of these types of discs in China.

The pirates are apparently ripping high-def movies (cracking Blu-ray's AACS and BD+ encryption in the process) and re-encoding them using AVCHD, which offers a 720p picture. Because of the reduction in resolution, file sizes are smaller and can be burned to regular DVDs instead of the more costly Blu-ray discs, netting a tidy profit. Needless to say, the film industry isn't thrilled by the news. "We are concerned and are assigning priority to this issue," the MPA's Asia-Pacific managing director Mike Ellis told the Wall Street Journal.

Fake Blu-ray discs from China
Image from the Wall Street Journal

Movie piracy in China is by no means a new trend, but the proliferation of Blu-ray fakes out of Asia is being viewed as a serious threat that could make its way to other countries quickly. Ellis pointed out that pirates in China can be very enterprising and have exported their wares all over the globe in the past, so there's nothing stopping them from doing so with this new format. "These syndicates are very quick to spot market opportunities," he said.

The news comes at a tough time for Blu-ray. The format's growth is stalling thanks to the high price of discs and players combined with the struggling economy, and in September, Blu-ray's market share actually fell in favor of the cheaper and ubiquitous standard-definition DVDs, as well as HD downloads. With the Chinese Blu-ray clones going for as little as $7 apiece (compared to the typical Blu-ray disc at $30+), it comes as no surprise that they're being viewed as a threat—especially if they're dressed up as Blu-ray discs and consumers aren't clear on what they're getting.

Aspirin vs. Marijuana



This is a repost with a few edits...

When Bayer introduced aspirin in 1899, cannabis was America's number one painkiller. Until marijuana prohibition began in 1937, the US Pharmacopoeia listed cannabis as the primary medicine for over 100 diseases. Cannabis was such an effective analgesic that the American Medical Association (AMA) argued against prohibition on behalf of medical progress. Since the herb is extremely potent and essentially non-toxic, the AMA considered it a potential wonder drug.

Instead, the invention of aspirin gave birth to the modern pharmaceutical industry and Americans switched away from cannabis in the name of "progress." But was it really progress? There can be no doubt that aspirin has a long history as the drug of choice for the self-treatment of migraines, arthritis, and other chronic pain. It is cheap and effective. But is it as safe as cannabis?


Marijuana has been used for over 5,000 years.
No one has ever overdosed on marijuana.
Aspirin has been used for 108 years.
Approximately 500 people die every year by taking aspirin
The Law:

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the US government believes it is extremely dangerous, highly addictive, and of no medical value.
Aspirin is available for pennies and can be purchased by children at any drug, grocery, or convenience store. Often they are just handed out free by people with no medical education.
Marijuana side effects and dangers:

The dangers of marijuana include possible respiratory problems caused by the deposition of burnt plant material on the lungs. This danger can be eliminated with alternate forms of consumption such as eating or vaporizing the medicine.
For two to four hours, marijuana causes short-term memory loss, a slight reduction in reaction time, and a reduction in cognitive ability. (It makes you stupid for a little while.)These conditions DO NOT persist after the herb wears off.

Creative Impulse
Aspirin side effects and dangers:

When taken with alcohol, aspirin can cause stomach bleeding.
Reye Syndrome in children: fat begins to develop around the liver and other organs of the child, eventually putting severe pressure on the brain. Death is common within a few days.
People with hemophilia can die.
People with hyperthyroidism suffer elevated T4 levels.
Stomach problems include dyspepsia, heartburn, upset stomach, stomach ulcers with gross bleeding, and internal bleeding leading to anemia.
Dizziness, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, vertigo, vision disturbances, and headaches.
Heavy sweating
Irreversible liver damage
Inflamation and gradual destruction of the kidneys
Nausea and vomiting
Abdominal pain
Dyspepsia: a gnawing or burning stomach pain accompanied by bloating, heartburn, nausea, vomiting and burping.
Tachypnea: Abnormally fast breathing
Respiratory Alkalosis: a condition where the amount of carbon dioxide found in the blood drops to a level below normal range brought on by abnormally fast breathing.
Cerebral Edema: Water accumulates on the brain. Symptoms include headaches, decreased level of consciousness, loss of eyesight, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, memory loss and coma. If left untreated, it can lead to death.
Hallucinations, confusion, and seizure.
Prolonged bleeding after operations or post-trauma for up to 10 days after last aspirin.
Aspirin can interact with some other drugs, such as diabetes medication. Aspirin changes the way the body handles these drugs and can lead to a drug overdose and death.
If you think that cannabis is actually safer than aspirin, you are not alone. In October 2000, Dr. Leslie Iversen of the Oxford University Department of Pharmacology said the same thing.

In her book, 'The Science of Marijuana,' Dr. Iversen presents the scientific evidence that cannabis is, by-and-large, a safe drug. Dr. Iversen found cannabis had "an impressive record" when compared to tobacco, alcohol, or even aspirin.

"Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug," she said. "Even such apparently innocuous medicines as aspirin and related steroidal anti-inflammatory compunds are not safe."

So if safety is your concern, cannabis is clearly a much better choice than aspirin. If you eat it or vaporize it, it just might be the safest painkiller the world has ever known.

Real 19th Century Vampire Killing Kit Is a Must In Current Economic Climate

Sold at an auction for $14,850, this 100% authentic vampire kit made circa 1800 is an absolute steal, specially compared to this $12,000 kit which is from a later date and has fewer apparatus. I mean, can you really put a price to the ability to battle vampires like Kiefer Sutherland, Dick Cheney and Bono? I say no. And make no mistakes, blood-sucking undeads, because this hand-carved walnut portable suitcase comes loaded with all I need to kill you:

• Creepy-looking cross.
• Bible.
• Hand gun and silver bullets.
• Holy oils.
• Holy water.
• Mirrors.
• Candles.
• Garlic.
• Badass wood and metal stake with added cross for vampiric extra-pain.
• Extra wood stakes, just in case.

The 19th century vampire killing kit was sold in an auction as part of the Jimmy Pippen estate, which shows that the aforementioned Jimmy Pippen was a either a complete nutcase or knew something that we don't. Just in case, I'm making one myself. [Antiqueandthearts via Dark Roasted Blend]

Google's iPhone Voice Search Mobile App Now Available

That Google Mobile for iPhone with talky talky search action is now up. Our own impressions of it are good. When you're not in a noisy place (or another phone is ringing in the background) it can pretty much translate anything you say into a meaningful phrase. "Gizmodo" was understood, surprisingly, as was "bear market" and "bare ass". That's right, it was smart enough to tell the difference between the words bear and bare, depending on the context. Also super cool? The jibberish noise it makes when it's searching for something. If you're an iPhone user, you should go get it now right here.

New honeycomb tire is 'bulletproof'

Posted by Mark Rutherford

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Wausau, Wis., company have come up with a 37-inch, bullet and bomb-proof Humvee tire based on a polymeric web so cool looking there's no need for hub caps.

Resilient Technologies and Wisconsin-Madison's Polymer Engineering Center are creating a "non-pneumatic tire" (no air required) that will support the weight of add-on armor, survive an IED attack, and still make a 50 mph getaway. It's basically a round honeycomb wrapped with a thick, black tread.

The military wants an alternative to the current Humvee "run flat" tires, which despite the name, still need a minimal amount of air pressure to roll and can leave troops stranded after being shot or blown out.

"You see reports all the time of troops who were injured by an IED or their convoys got stranded because their tires were shot out," said Resilient's General Manager Mike Veih. "There's all sorts of armor on the vehicle, but if you're running in the theater and get your tire shot out, what have you got? You've got a bunch of armor in the middle of a field."

In developing the design, the Wisconsin team studied other airless tires, like the Michelin "Tweel," but in the end settled on lessons learned from nature.

The patent-pending design mimics the precise, six-sided cell pattern found in a honeycomb and best duplicates the "ride feel" of pneumatic tires, according to the developers.

"The goal was to reduce the variation in the stiffness of the tire, to make it transmit loads uniformly and become more homogenous," said mechanical engineering professor Tim Osswald. "And the best design, as nature gives it to us, is really the honeycomb."

This particular geometry also does a great job of reducing noise and heat levels while rolling-two common problems with past models.

Costs per tire are expected to be the same or less than current units. Delivery is anticipated for 2011.

Mark Rutherford is a West Coast-based freelance writer. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Email him at Disclosure.

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Vending Machines Craze in Japan

Instant Gratification to the Nth Degree

Welcome our contributing writer Michael I. Colwill of Kanteker's Craft. After living in Japan for some time, he became enchanted with the Japanese culture and technology, as this article clearly demonstrates.

Vending machines in Japan are as commonplace as temples, bicycles, and karaoke booths. It's not uncommon to see a street lined with a dozen or more machines selling products ranging from cold and hot drinks to flowers or rice. And almost none of these vending machines are vandalized or non-functional. According to the Vending Machine Manufacturers Association, Japan has one vending machine for every 23 people.

(image credit: Stefano)

A Coke vending machine robot walks around Shibuya Station in Tokyo:

(image credit: Sanchome)

According to Tracy Jones in a web article titled "Jidoohanbaiki - Japanese Vending Machines, "the real surge in interest in jidoohanbaiki began during the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 with the need to supply large numbers of people with a number of goods and a severe lack of space and staff."

On the UCLA Asia Institute’s "Two Minute Japan" website you can find a picture of the first official vending machine in Japan. This wooden machine, built in 1904, sold postage stamps and postcards:

Here is a collection of interesting vending machines that you will find scattered throughout Japan’s cities, towns, and even countryside.

Get Your Drink, Coffee & Cigarettes Anytime, Anywhere

These are some of your standard drink vending machines. You’ll find them on practically every street corner. They usually sell a standard variety of sodas, complemented with all kinds of teas, hot and cold coffee, and energy drinks.

Photo by Mac Kane

Photo by Mac Kane

Most drinks around the size of a regular can of soda sell for around 120 yen. This is roughly around $1.05 in American currency. Smaller cans, usually of coffee, can sell for less than that.

Photo by Mac Kane

Notice the different color bands below the drink displays. This is standard on all drink machines and indicates the temperature of the drink, blue for cold and red for hot.

Photo by Ry Tweedie-Cullen

Photo by Mac Kane

It’s actually more common to see several vending machines together, than an individual vending machine on its own. These random conglomerations of vending machines can be found anywhere from a Tokyo street corner to the side of a remote country road.

Photo by Mac Kane

Google offices in Japan have plenty of those:

(image credit: Loren Baker)

Most vending machines will have a recycling container nearby, or even built into the machine. This encourages people to obey the recycling laws, which are enforced in Japan.

Photo by Mac Kane

Here are some pictures of the cigarette vending machines. These machines will generally carry a wide variety of cigarettes, many of which are American brands, both popular and obscure. You will also come across some brands you probably never knew existed. This particular batch of cigarette vending machines has a girl outside promoting some of the products.

Photo by Paul Vlar

During my time in Japan I was amazed at the number of smokers. The World Health Organization has some great statistics on smoking in Japan and many other countries. According to their website, 51% of adult men smoke in Japan, which is down from the number of male smokers in the 1980s. Smoking among women was once considered taboo, but has now risen to nearly 10% in the last decade.

Photo by Mac Kane

A survey in the early 1990s indicated that 44% of Japanese physicians were smokers. And with 500,000 cigarette vending machines the young can easily purchase cigarettes. Smoking is legally prohibited until 20 years of age. The only method of prevention related to cigarette vending machines is that they are turned off between 11:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. Japan has some of the weakest anti-tobacco laws. There are very few public areas that are smoke-free.

Photo by Doug Mann

Better ask what they DON'T sell in these machines...

Soft drinks and cigarettes are only a fraction of vast multitude of goods sold from such machines. Rice being a major staple for the Japanese it is no surprise that large bags of rice can be purchased from vending machines. This particular set of machines sells rice in ten kilogram bags. There are some rice vending machines today that sell rice in the same plastic bottles that soda is sold in.

Photo by Doug Mann

Though I've never encountered one of these, the flower machine seems to be a good idea, especially in Japan. Most businessmen are expected to work late, and then socialize with co-workers at a nearby bar; so the 24-hour availability of flowers seems to be promoted as a way for these men to "make it up" to their spouses. I wonder how well it works.

Photo by Doug Mann

Porno vending machine:

(image credit: SweetThaiThai)

Lingerie vending machine (quite common in large cities, actually):

(image credit: François Rejeté)

The number of alcohol vending machines probably matches the number of cigarette machines in Japan. Drinking, like smoking, is prohibited until age 20. And, like cigarette vending machines, the preventative method to keep youth from purchasing alcohol is to turn the machines off between the hours of 11 P.M. and 6 A.M.

Photo by Doug Mann

Many travelers to Japan wonder why most alcohol dispensing machines are located just outside the door of a liquor store. There may be a small convenience factor. But both store and machine would be closed during the night. Note the bottle of whiskey on the bottom shelf.

Photo by Doug Mann

With all the electronics in stores everywhere, is it any wonder that battery vending machines would be available?

Photo by Doug Mann

(image credit: Isodacafe)

Most Japanese households use kerosene heaters to keep out the cold of winter. Because of this you will often hear vehicles driving around towns in the evenings or at night warning people over a loudspeaker to turn off their heaters before they go to sleep.

Photo by Doug Mann

The various parking ingenuities in Japan would take another article to describe in detail. This one appears to be an automated parking elevator where you park your vehicle and receive a card or ticket. When you’re ready to depart you would insert your card, pay your fee, and the elevator would bring your vehicle down to the entry level, often times facing outward so you don’t have to back out. I never figured out how they did that part in some of these elevators.

Photo by Doug Mann

All your bare necessities can be purchased from a vending machine... not the least of them is toilet paper:

Photo by Doug Mann

How many times have you left home only to be caught in a rainstorm later that day? How many times did you remember to carry an umbrella with you? Now it’s nothing to worry about, as long as an umbrella vending machine is nearby.

Photo by Doug Mann

You can buy eggs in a vending machine? Don’t they break when they fall off the shelf? This particular machine seems to have a separate door for every product shelf. However, some vending machines (not necessarily egg-dispensing ones) will move the entire shelf down, until it's on one level with the dispensing window. Then your product will be carefully deposited onto takeout tray, safe and sound.

(image credit: Sally Kernick)

Frogs are perhaps the only thing these machines do not sell:

Photographer: Tetsuya Tanaka

The two photos above are taken by my father-in-law, Tetsuya Tanaka. He is an amateur photographer who has an eye for the beauty of Japan. You can find more pictures by him on my website.

For some other great collections of Japanese Vending Machine pictures please check out the websites of all the photographers included (by permission) in this article.
- Vending Machines of Japan, by PhotoMann
- Polar Interia, journal of nomadic and popular culture, by Mac Kane
- DutchAngle by Paul Vlar.
Also check out "Japanese Vending Machines" Pool, and this wonderful set on Flickr.

Article by Michael Colwill, Kanteker's Craft for Dark Roasted Blend.