Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

GaiaX, a company that sells community Net services to ISP's and portals filed for a trademark for "Blog" on March 6 of this year. They issued a press release on June 28 saying that they would reserve the right use the word blog in products and services, but would allow people to use it freely in writing. I think some people have doubts as to whether they will be granted the trademark, but stranger things have happened in Japan. In the past, I think someone trademarked "groupware". I think GaiaX also has a trademarks in some categories on "Avatar."

Anyway, I'm glad SixApart and MovableType don't include the word "blog" in the tradename. ;-P

Japanese banks have a tradition of taking personal guarantees for corporate loans from the businessmen as well as their families. For instance, I was personally on the hook for millions of dollars at one of my first companies, Digital Garage, until we secured enough outside financing to pay off our debt, which in Japan is often the only financing available to new companies.

The Japan Times reports that this is a significant cause for the high suicide rate in Japan that I often write about. There are over 30,000 suicides a year in Japan, mostly be older men. It is more than three times the number of annual traffic accident deaths. The article describes people whose businesses go bankrupt or are unable to pay their debts and how this destroys the lives of loved ones and friends around them as banks run to collect from the guarantors. The people commit suicide in shame. Also, most people in Japan buy life insurance to cover most of their outstanding loans. The suicide, if executed properly will relieve these unintentional victims of the burden of paying off liabilities.

I have personal guarantees on many loans and have actually had to cover several payments for friends and others that have defaulted on their loans. The fact that it is such common practice in Japan makes it a real sleeping problem that faces society here as the economy continues to get worse. Another big problem with these guarantees is that they are difficult to assess and make quantifying default risk for banks difficult. Credit assessments for individuals who are exposed to such guarantees is also very difficult.

Mizuka and I just got back from Kabutoya-ryokan. It's a very old building 18 generations old. It used to be a silk-worm/silk facility, but now it's an inn. Very old fashioned rooms. Traditional irori typed grill in your room. (See pictures on my moblog.) This morning they made mochi, a kind of Japanese pounded rice. I took some video that didn't turn out that great, but it's available here as a Quicktime Video Stream.

Mizuka just bought a CellStar SKY-230DL radar detector. It's amazing. It has a GPS receiver built in. It knows where speed traps are and lets you know 2 km before you get there. (In Japan, we have automated speed traps that take your picture and send you the ticket in the mail.) It also lets you program new information. For the tunnel exit based traps, it lets you know before you enter the tunnel, etc. It also detects police radio and figures out whether they are heading towards you in the same direction or on the other side of the road. It has a variety of special warnings for stealth pulse radar detection, etc. These things have come a long way since the last radar detector I bought. This is a good thing since we're going on a road trip today.

The last time I got a speeding ticket, it was on the way back from the airport. I received a picture in the mail and had to go to the police office. The funny thing was, they suspended my license and then the policeman pulled a map out and showed me where the speed trap that got me was located. He warned me to slow down next time I passed it. ;-)

I heard that the OS X version of NewsMonster, the RSS aggregator/reader was finished so I went to the site and paid for it. Kevin A. Burton, the author was on the #joiito IRC channel so I told him. He told me that there was another bug left in the OS X version that he needed to fix. He offered to give me my money back. I told him just to hurry up with the OS X version. He promised he would do it tomorrow. ;-) Very excited about trying NewsMonster...

[16:15] burtonator | I will fix sifry's bug tonight... then OSX tomorrow