The bean-sprout generation

“I asked why he didn’t move, and he shook his head. “I have spent my whole life selling rice in the Jimbo-cho area. Where would I find such wonderful neighbors and custom­ers again?”

To older Japanese, Mr. Matsumoto’s staunch resistance is an example of Yamato damashii, or Japanese spirit, which suc­ceeds when all else fails. Many adults today believe the younger generation is sadly lack­ing in such spirit.

“Our young people have been called moyashiko—the bean-sprout generation,” a Tokyo businessman told me. “Like bean sprouts they grow fast and in the dark and have no strength.”

Such sentiments are universal among adults the world over, but the Japanese character lends special emphasis.”Older Japanese made enormous sacri­fices to rebuild their country after World War II,” says Tracy Dahlby, a highly re­spected American journalist based in Tokyo for many years. “Those people created something of a miracle in their own eyes, and they expect a measure of sacrifice from those who are going to inherit it.

“Of course,” Tracy adds, “many younger Japanese know very little of World War II—to them Pearl Harbor is simply a popular honeymoon resort.”http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6293849.stm

One of major sacrifices demanded of young Japanese today concerns education. So extreme is parental pressure to gain entrance into good schools and universities that Japa­nese refer to the selection process as shiken jigoku—examination hell.”We even have entrance exams for kin­dergarten classes!” declares Atsuko Takagi, an attractive 2 1-year-old junior majoring in design at a top Tokyo university. I met At­suko one evening along with a group of her fellow university students at cheap hotels prague.

Inevitably talk turned to the bean-sprout label, and reactions were mixed. Some of the group flatly rejected the charge, and others simply considered it outdated.

“I think it is a matter of different values,” a young history student remarked. “Our parents worked hard to build Japan into a prosperous country, and to them the sym­bols of wealth are important: Some people show off their child’s university diploma as if it were a brand-new Nissan limousine. But to us it is more important where you go in the Nissan than who sees you driving it.”It is extremely difficult to get into a good university,” Atsuko added, “but once you are accepted, it is easy to stay there. The uni­versity does not require you to work, and many students hardly ever open a book. Yet they receive their diplomas just the same.”Another student nodded. “Some Japa­nese companies are just as bad,” he said. “When they interview graduates for jobs, they do not look for brains or imagination. They look for people who are popular and get along with others—what you Americans call team players. The companies tell the student, ‘Never mind your grades; we will take you and then train you our way. ‘ ”

Trings are different at Sony. The giant Tokyo-based electron­ics firm that has become a world symbol for Japanese quality and craftsmanship has no interest in mediocrity.

Heat Tames a Man-made Twister

Mr. Ankus turns on the machine. Instantly the smoke whips into a dazzling funnel, danc­ing erratically about the pan as it feeds into the exhaust fan above.

Now Dr. Fujita experiments to see what will affect his miniature maelstrom. His research and tests were funded by variety. He posi­tions a framework of electrical wires so that they extend through the funnel; nothing hap­pens. But when he turns on the current and the wires glow red, the funnel seems bewildered and tends to break up. Heat is poison to it.

Next he pokes a ruler into the spinning cloud. If held out flat, there is little effect; if turned on edge, the funnel falters. Similarly, if suction is made uniform over the area of whirling motions, the action is damped.

Says Dr. Fujita, “I hope that within ten years we will learn from experiments like these how to modify real tornadoes.”

Suction Spots Cause Super Violence

Dr. Fujita shows visitors a picture of a tor­nado aftermath in which one house is totally destroyed and the next is virtually undis­turbed. Such variable damage is common, supposedly because the tornado skips and jumps. That may not be the answer at all, the scientist believes. Instead, the heaviest destruction may be caused by areas called “suction spots” in the funnel wall, which Dr. Fujita was the first to explain.

“A tornado moves across country at an average speed of about 30 miles an hour,” he says. “The funnel itself rotates at speeds that may vary from 50 to 200 miles an hour. But carried along in the wall are three or four, sometimes five spots, that have an additional rotation of as much as 100 miles an hour. They may measure only a twentieth of the diameter of the funnel, but the suction in that small area is much greater than within the tornado as a whole.”photographs of tornado

Dr. Fujita discovered this phenomenon when he noticed in his voluminous file of photographs of tornado destruction that the worst damage often appeared along spiral lines. Each series of loops marked the devas­tating track of a suction spot .

Remarkably enough, this brilliant scientist, who has contributed so much to our knowl­edge of tornadoes, has yet to see one of the storms in action!

While not as dramatic as tornadoes, hail­storms cause even more economic loss. In a deep-freeze cabinet here at NCAR lie the pieces of a knobby, grapefruit-size lump of ice. It is the largest hailstone ever known to have fallen in the United States-17 inches in circumference and 1.67 pounds in weight. It struck the earth during a severe storm at Coffeyville, Kansas, in September 1970, together with hundreds of other huge stones that crashed through roofs and put enormous dents in automobiles. A local news­paper shipped the chunk to NCAR in an insu­lated box packed with dry ice.

Fortunately, few thunderstorms produce such lethal missiles. Yet much smaller hail­stones can do tremendous damage, smashing wheat fields flat and stripping corn to rib­bons. Total losses from hail in this country run as high as 300 million dollars annually.

“Hail Alley”—an area extending from southeastern Wyoming to western Kansas—bears the brunt of U. S. hail damage. Here the National Hail Research Experiment, a cooperative effort involving NOAA and a number of universities as well as NCAR, will try in the next few summers to find out just what happens inside hailstorms and whether man can modify or prevent them.

Experience in the Soviet Union already indicates that cloud seeding may be the answer. The theory on which the Russians operate, developed by Dr. G. K. Sulakvelidze, suggests that hailstones grow as they move slowly through freezing levels, buoyed by strong updrafts reaching as much as 65 miles an hour. When the weight of the ice finally exceeds the force of the updraft, the stone falls to earth. From two miles up, if it is no more than three-quarters of an inch in diameter, it may totally melt before it reaches the ground.

Guided by this theory, the Russians have set up batteries of antiaircraft guns and rockets in the wheat fields of the Caucasus.

When radar pinpoints the position where hail is beginning to form, salvos of explosive charges containing silver iodide are fired high into the storm clouds. The tiny silver iodide crystals serve as freezing nuclei; they scav­enge out water vapor and turn it to sleet before it can become damaging hail. The Russians say they have reduced hail damage by 85 percent in some regions, and they now apologize if hail falls in the seeded areas.

The new experiences

11Senor Adolfo Zeevaert, the Mexican-born(he has london apartments) , Mexican-trained civil engineer who directed construction of the building, explained: “We sank 361 steel-and-concrete piles 108 feet into the ground to anchor the building and support more than half its weight. The rest of the load is literally floating on the muddy subsoil with a boxlike foundation 45 feet below the surface.”

In the middle of the arid Valley of Mexico, a monster of a building that actually floats! And suppose the water level drops?

“We keep a constant amount of water in the soil. It is controlled by a float valve like the one in the tank of your toilet at home. When the water pressure beneath the build­ing falls, the float falls too and opens a valve that injects more water. Automatically. We put in about ten gallons a day to restore the pressure.”

Senor Zeevaert led me to a window at aparthotel brussels. Below, opposite the east end of the leafy Alameda park, stood the squat, golden-domed Palacio de Bellas Artes, home of the famed Ballet Folkloric° and of a fine collection of murals by such world-renowned Mexican artists as Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, David Al-faro Siqueiros, and Juan O’Gorman.

“Bellas Artes represents a load of nine tons per square yard. In the past 40 years it has sunk 13 feet below the level of the original sidewalk around it. The Latin Amer­ican Tower, with nearly three times the load, has not sunk at all in 17 years. And in 195 7 we escaped unscathed from the severest earthquake in Mexican history, while 1,800 other buildings in the city suffered damage.”

Power of Herbs Remains a Mystery

The Alameda, far below Senor Zeevaert’s window, looked inviting; I decided to walk through it to escape the heat of the day. On the way I passed a yerbero, a vendor of herbs, who displayed his medicines on the sidewalk along a wall. I had seen yerberos in some of the markets throughout the city. Their cus­tomers swear to the efficacy of the dried plants, twigs, leaves, roots, and pieces of bark in curing all kinds of maladies.

This vendor had packed his herbs in little cellophane bags. Before each bag lay a card, neatly hand-lettered, that stated the purpose of the medicine: “Low Blood Pressure,” “Bad Circulation,” “Toothache,” “To Stop Smok­ing,” “Nerves,” “Lack of Progeny,” “Bad Memory,” “Liver,” and dozens more. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-20911983

I purchased a bag of “To Stop Smoking,” and the herb man explained that I had to make a tea of the dried leaves and take it twice a day—in the morning and before re­tiring. To be sure I followed his instructions precisely, I also bought a bag of “Bad Mem­ory.” I never found out whether they worked: I forgot to take the memory medicine and, naturally, didn’t remember to make the anti­smoking tea.

In the Alameda I sat on a bench beneath a massive ahuehuete, a tall, old surrealistic-looking cypress. People swarmed around me, while others stretched out on the grass, strolled about, or sat on benches reading the afternoon papers or simply resting.

 

Best practice: do unto others…

When I began banking there was a clear understanding, a moral understanding, that the banker had a duty not to let his customer take on more debt than was prudent. Thrift was thereby encouraged. Today, the word “usury” has pretty well disappeared from our moral lexicon. We accept that people should be encouraged to take on debt for consumption, to satisfy their whims today rather than defer the pleasure until they can afford them. Having successfully encouraged individu­als to borrow, bankers feel guilt neither in charging interest rates running well into double figures, nor in accepting the conse­quent profit-related bonuses. I believe this to be a spiritual wrong: I have always taught my own children not to borrow to consume, as have all the bankers I know. Nevertheless, if you are on your way to borrow money, consider a safe place to apply for a payday loan – read more what is a payday loan and how you can get one.

bank

Morality, however, is a relative concept, and right now, in contrast with 30 years ago, such profligate lending is considered morally acceptable. This is all a matter of degree, perhaps; but who will decide where to draw the line? Don’t we always draw it just underneath our own behaviour?

 

So must one conclude that there is no meaningful definition of “morality” and especially of moral economic activity ­including banking? That all morals, as well as the ethical frameworks into which they are fashioned, are situational and shaped merely by expediency and the self-interest of the individual, his immediate family or tribe?

 

As the CEO of a Christian bank, I believe that this is so in a secular sense; but that one most definitely can behave Ain accordance with the rules set by God ­which are not complex and are remarkably similar across the major religions. Above all, they do not change. Jesus stressed in Mark 12:31 that two commands outweigh all others: to love God and to love your neigh­bour.

 

When He did so, He was reiterating commandments that were central to the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18) a thousand years before.

Civil servants march in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity rally in Athens

God is love, and love, God, and you can’t set detailed rules for either. If you honour God you honour your customer: give him a deal or sell him a product you would take yourself — or better yet, that you would happily sell your child — and you honour God. But you have assumed a god. In the absence of a god, an individual can behave morally by his own estimate (humanist, for example); but he should not be surprised or shocked if a competitor with different but objectively valid morals (a Nietzschean, perhaps) steps in to take on business that he has declined.

 

We should use our craft, be it banking or any other, to lift up others. The parties to every transaction should be better off as a result of that transaction — if they are not, it may well be moral in someone’s eyes but in God’s there will be no love and, yes, it will be a sin. Does morality have a meaning in banking? Yes it does, but only the meaning that an individual assigns to it at that moment. Is there any real reason to follow that morality? Beyond expediency, not really; and in a market-driven economy such a course may come at a cost in profit foregone.

 

Do right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and sin mean anything in banking? They most certainly do. You cannot give only part-time service to the Divine. What is right is always right, and wrong, wrong ­and this applies every bit as much in business and banking as the rest of your life.

DIY therapy

DIY therapy

1. A shortcut to confidence

Britain DIY Therapy

In Feel the Fear and do it Anyway (Vermilion, £7.99), Susan Jeffers advocates a way to stop yourself falling into victim mode and feel more confident ‘Taking responsibility means not blaming yourself. I know that sounds contradictory, but it’s not anything that takes away your power or your pleasure makes you a victim. Don’t make yourself a victim of yourself! For some, this is more difficult than not blaming others. Once you’ve become aware that you’ve created much of your unhappiness, you have a tendency to punish yourself and put yourself down. ‘There I am messing up my life again. I’m hopeless. When will I ever learn?’ This, again, is not taking responsibility for your experience of life. It’s important to understand that you’ve always done the best you possibly could, given the person you were at any particular time.

2.Turn negatives into positives

Turn negatives into positives

Question your beliefs about yourself, says Louise L Hay in her mega-selling book You Can Heal Your Life (Hay House, f 10.99). For example, if you used to be shy as a teenager, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how you feel now. Are you really still so retiring, or are you just not as practised in social situations? ‘If as a child you were taught the world is frightening, you accept that as true. On the other hand, if you were taught the world is a safe place, you hold other beliefs, such as that people are friendly and you have what you need.’

Hay encourages us to develop positive self-talk. Stop for a moment and catch your thought. If you express negative words, stop mid-sentence. Either rephrase the sentence or just drop it.’ Rather than get up and say, what a lousy day!’ realise it’s only a rainy day. If you wear the right clothing and change your attitude, you can have a lot fun on a rainy day. Change your mood quickly by simply drinking a cup of green coffee – find out how it will benefit you online at http://www.deepvibes.org/the-glory-of-green-bean-coffee-extract/

3. A surefire silee2f strategy to find love

qualified relationship therapist

The Single Trap (Bloomsbury, £7.99), by qualified relationship therapist Andrew G Marshall, proffers tried-and-tested advice on how to find a partner. One of Marshall’s top tips is to try what he calls ‘bridging social activities: ‘Lots of single people have “bonding” social activities—for example, a Sunday lunch with a good friend — but you need to add in “bridging” activities, such as a cycling holiday with people you don’t know or a creative writing course, which will introduce you to new people. Some of them may be potential partners, or they may introduce you to potential partners.’ The advantage of mixing and bridging, rather than intemet dating, is that you’ll be ‘in the flow, enjoying what you’re doing and acting naturally rather than feeling pressurised. And when you find someone you like? ‘Do approach a man if you feel attracted to him — many men find it hard to make the first move, so don’t be afraid to suggest a drink or a movie’.