Excellent New Horizons Update

After the glitch on New Horizons on July 4th, we have some good news today. NASA has identified the problem and is correcting it. New Horizons will be back to normal on July 7th, and will resume science operations.

The problem was a rather unusual one. There was a problem with the timing in an operation that would only be done once during the flyby. The problem has been fixed, and will not affect anything now.

I can’t wait to see the closeup pictures of Pluto. There are so many artistic renditions of the surface, some showing colours such as orange, yellow, and black. The colour of Pluto is a kind of orange-beige colour from what we can tell so far, and there’s a lot of variation in brightness.  That makes it quite exciting knowing that it won’t be a boring world. It looks absolutely fascinating already.

I still can’t believe it. Next week, we’ll have a clear view of Pluto and Charon. Can you believe it?

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Video Editing Software Recommendations

I’ll be making videos on YouTube soon for Life in Japan, and so far, I’ve been using YouTube’s editor. It’s okay for what I’ve been doing, but it’s not the fastest or smoothest editor to use. And it’s entirely online.

I’d like some more precise control over how I edit, as well as the ability to put title pages and other graphics on the video. I’ve used Windows Movie Maker in the past, and that’s when it came with Windows XP. After getting my old Windows 7 computer, I stopped editing videos until I started using YouTube’s editor.

What I’d like is a good free video editor that I can use to make my videos look more professional and less like home videos. Does anyone have any recommendations for good editing software? Let me know in the comments.

Life in Japan: J-pop

Every country has its own brand of music.  Japan has several of its own, including enka, Visual Kei, and of course, Japanese pop (or J-pop). This week’s question comes from Joanne Corey.

Do you follow any J-pop groups? My ethnomusicologist daughter is writing a master’s thesis on the fandom of AKB-48, so I know that these groups not only perform at concerts and put out recordings, but also have television series, do modeling, make ads, etc.

I’m not a big follower of pretty much any music, I’m afraid. However, on the topic of AKB48, they’re on TV, on advertisements, and pretty much everywhere individually or in groups. Their system is a strange one. They are idols. They are manufactured idols. They’re not well-paid at all. They make minimum wage from what I’ve heard. It’s only after they become popular and go on their own that they start making money.  However, the music industry in Japan is unlike the one in North America. Singers are company employees and have a lot of rules they have to follow. In AKB, they have extremely strict rules. Break one, and they’re punished, and they have to apologise. And like I said, they’re manufactured idols. Think of AKB as a factory. They take raw materials (unknown girls) and shape them into pretty much identical people without much talent. Honestly, they don’t have very strong singing abilities, but they can learn to sing, dance, and act. They’re still not considered very good talents when they finish with AKB and move on to something else. They are idols, and idols don’t need to be talented. Just have good looks and charisma.

As for the fandom, well, they’re a bit strange. Most fans of AKB48 are middle-aged men, most likely single. And they dance.  Crazily.  You cannot unsee it, so I won’t put a video of it here, but if you really, really want to, go to YouTube and search for “wotagei” or just “wota.” These are grown men dancing to music sung by teenage girls. Wildly. Scary. *shudder*

Anyway, I hope that gives you an interesting look into one part of J-pop fandom. There are normal fans, of course, but for groups like AKB48, they breed the lonely, awkward middle-aged male fan.

Have a question about life in Japan? Go here and ask in the comments.