Our Little Earth – September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007
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WHAT’S GOING ON
Elections in Japan

Robot Japan has a new prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, who took office on Sept 26th. The former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, resigned after just a year in office. His resignation came as quite a surprise, and his health was given as the reason. Abe’s time as a leader was quite rough – several ministers were involved in scandals while he was in office.

Japan also has an Emperor – it is the only country today where the ruler is called an Emperor. Most other countries use King/Queen or Prince/Princess. The Japanese name for Japan is Nippon which means ”the land of the rising sun”. This was most likely because the sun rose earlier in Japan than China, the other main civilization that the Japanese interacted with in the olden days.

Youngsters all around the world today are entertained by Japanese creations such as Pokemon, Hello Kitty and Karaoke! Karaoke comes from two Japanese words meaning “empty orchestra”. Thanks to the Japanese, there are now millions of kids (and adults!) trying to imitate the voice of everyone from USA’s Britney Spears to Finland’s Lordi. The Japanese have also made a big impact in the area of martial arts – Judo was invented in Japan, and they also helped Karate evolve into the art it is today.

The Japanese are famous for inventing neat gadgets. Some are purely entertaining like the Tamagotchi – an electronic pet that has to be fed and taken care of. Others seem like they could be really useful – Toto’s luxurious toilet seats are heated and come with their own remote control, while Takanoha’s Nap Alarm buzzes in your ear when you doze off (so that you can stay awake in boring classes)! Yet others such as Honda’s Asimo Robot give us a glimpse of what the future may look like!

Monks protest in Myanmar

Myanmar Protests A tense situation has been building up this week in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). It all started on August 15 when the military ruling party, the SPDC, doubled fuel prices. Several protests were held. During one of these, the troops of the SPDC injured some Buddhist monks. The monks asked for an apology but the party refused. This led to a large number of monks and other people joining the protests – at one point, there were almost 100,000 protesters!  They are demanding that the military party step down and a democratic government be set up.

Myanmar has been ruled by military governments since 1962. In 1990, elections were held and a democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was chosen. But the military refused to step down. Suu Kyi has peacefully protested the military regime for almost twenty years, and has spent almost all of that time under house arrest – a prisoner in her own home. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Almost 90% of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist. Buddhism is a religion that does not promote any single god. Instead, it tries to define a way of life that reduces suffering and increases happiness. Most Buddhist men in Myanmar spend at least a few days living as monks. Monks are highly respected, and hence this tussle between them and the military has grown into a large movement, and might result in some significant changes in Myanmar.

Dough to cost more dough

Wheat The Italians are quite upset because it didn’t rain enough in Australia! Don’t believe it? But its true and it goes to show how inter-twined our global communities are becoming. So why do the Italians care so much about Australian weather? It’s because of wheat!

Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat. Unfortunately Australia has had a drought this year because of insufficient rains, and its wheat production has been significantly reduced. To make matters worse, bad weather has also impacted wheat production in Canada, another of the world’s main wheat producers. This is driving wheat prices to record highs all over the world. As a result, the New Zealanders have to pay more for their loaves of bread, the French for their baguettes, and the Italians for their pasta, since these are all made from wheat. So now you know why people across the world are hoping that there is plenty of rain in Australia in the next few weeks!

SOMETHING FAMOUS
Pokemon

Meet Nintendo, a Japanese company that has been a leader in the video game industry. It has created famous characters like Mario and Donkey Kong, franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon, and game consoles like the GameCube, the Game Boy, the DS, and the Wii. Nintendo has now sold almost 2 billion games and about 170 million game consoles around the world.

Now all of you have heard about Nintendo, but did you know that the company sold playing cards for a long time and also tried to sell instant rice and run taxis? Nintendo is more than a hundred years old – it was started in 1889 in Kyoto, Japan.

DID YOU KNOW
The world’s most expensive toilet will cost approximately $19 million! That is the amount NASA has agreed to pay for a Russian-built toilet that will be installed in the International Space Station in 2008.
Lordi, a rock band from Finland, holds the world record for the largest number of fans singing a Karaoke song – more than 80,000 people performed the song “Hard Rock Hallelujah” at the Market Square in Helsinki, Finland on May 26, 2006.
FUNNY BONE
A man walks into a restaurant with a dog. The owner says, “You can’t bring that dog in here.”
“You don’t understand,” says the man. “This is no regular dog, he can talk.”
“Listen, pal,” says the owner. “If that dog can talk, I’ll give you a hundred bucks.”
The man puts the dog on a chair, and asks him, “What’s on top of a house?”
“Roof!”
“Right. And what’s on the outside of a tree?”
“Bark!”
“And what kind of sport is Judo?”
“Rough!”
“I guess you’ve heard enough,” says the man. “I’ll take the hundred in twenties.”
The owner is furious. “Listen, pal,” he says, “get out of here before I throw you out.”
As soon as they’re on the street, the dog turns to the man and says, “Do you think I should have said ‘gentle’?”
GO FIGURE
Can you cut a cake into eight pieces with just three cuts?
Letters of the name of which place mentioned here can be rearranged to form “Man Army”?
FIGURED OUT
Solution for the question – What’s common across Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven ? Moving the first letter to the end spells the same word backwards!
Solution for the question – What word can be spelt with the letters of the phrase “Is A Far Art”? Rastafari!
ETCETERA
Credits: Honda for Asimo Robot photo; racoles@flickr for Myanmar protest photo; Nintendo for Pokemon photo.
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