Women Explorers and Travellers of Asia and the Middle East - In an age where women struggled for basic human rights, these individuals were literal trailblazers. Leaving their homelands for varying motivations (but often due to dissatisfaction with their social lot in life), they devoted their lives to "explore these antique lands before they are irretrievably caught up in the cacaphonic whirl of the modern world." [more inside]
30 years ago, Richard Brautigan's last collection of poems, June 30th, June 30th, was published. [more inside]
More companion robots! Another in a series (see PARO, previously) of healing toys for Japan's rapidly greying population, Yumel the Healing Partner from Tomy. Like some kind of unholy cross between a Cabbage Patch Kid and Teddy Ruxpin, you can see a promotional clip of the doll here, or read a list of translated stock phrases (thank you Harper's). Also, an interesting article from the Economist about WHY the Japanese love robots so. (Hint: it's Shinto)
Comedy duo, Ramenz (ラーメンズ), aka Kobayashi Kentaro and Katagiri Jin, also known as the Japanese versions of Mac and PC, have recently done a number of shorts collectively called "The Japanese Tradition." Apparently, these tongue-in-cheek pseudo-instructional vids about famous aspects of Japanese culture (Tea, Chopsticks, Sushi, Origami, Apology, Onigiri, and Relationships) have been fooling a lot of non-natives into thinking they are actual guides. (YouTube, each approx 4-6 min).