Tokyo—Perhaps no place is as representative of Japan's concentrated humanity as Shibuya Crossing in the heart of Japan's capital city. When the traffic lights go red, upwards of 3,000 pedestrians scramble through the intersection, a tidal mass of well-ordered people, ebbing and flowing based on the rhythm of highly organized public transit. But then the tarmac clears, and the lights go green.Punch it.The polite Japanese do not normally stare, but heads swivel now as a thundering dart stabs across the pavement, its rear flirting around with chirruping wheelspin. The front end of the Aston Martin Vantage might resemble something found on a slab at the nearby Tsukiji fish market, but it is a streamlined apex predator and draws eyeballs even in one of the city's wealthiest districts.Because this is Tokyo, the Aston's rapid forward progress is soon slowed by traffic. And, because it's Japan, said traffic is a bunch of go-karts driven by people dressed up as Mario and Luigi and … [Read more...] about Empire in the East: The vibrant past, present and future of British cars in Japan
By a show of virtual hands, how many of you saw the newest Top Gear episode that aired over the weekend? The Japan episode? Was your mind blown? Because mine sure was. To recap, this episode was very much in line with past Top Gear specials in that it didn’t really follow in the traditional Top Gear format. There was no celebrity segment or hot lap segment. Instead, we were treated to an hour-long program devoted wholly to an examination of Japanese car culture by Chris Harris, Rory Reid and Matt LeBlanc. It was good. We started off with a segment where a Lexus LC500 and Honda Civic Type R went head to head against each other at the track. Then Harris and LeBlanc were given a challenge to each buy a cheap, used, ’90s-era Japanese car at auction and then complete a set of challenges with it. Reid, meanwhile, went off on his own to experience some underground Tokyo car culture. To begin, the animated visuals in the Lexus vs. Honda episode were killer. The stylized opening … [Read more...] about Top Gear’s Japan Episode Blew My Mind With ’90s Sports Cars
Start the Countdown Nurse Autumn Small adjusts an IV drip machine for a patient receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer at a children's hospital in San Francisco, 2005. Health care costs a lot more in the U.S. than in other developed countries. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The U.S. spends an extraordinary amount of money on health care. In 2013, the country shelled out more than $9,000 per person, which totaled 17.1 percent of its gross domestic product, or GDP. That's far more than the amount spent by a dozen other high-income countries — Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. How much more? France, which came in second, spent 11.6 percent of its GDP, or some 50 percent less than the U.S. [source: The Commonwealth Fund]. It wasn't always this way. Up until the 1960s and 1970s, Americans paid about the same as other developed countries for health care — 6 to 7 … [Read more...] about 10 Questions in the U.S. Health Care Cost Debate
Family and friends remember 24-year-old Patricia Chew and her 46-year-old mother Lolita Wells at a memorial service where they were shot and killed on Sept. 29, 2015 in Chicago. The two were among five people shot at the scene including Chew's 11-month-old son. Scott Olson/Getty Images A new study tracking gun-related deaths found that just six countries, all located in the Americas, accounted for more than half of all firearm deaths worldwide in 2016. The lamentable list was topped by Brazil with 43,200 gun deaths in 2016, followed by the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala. Taken together, those six nations were home to 50.5 percent of global firearm-related fatalities in 2016, a count that includes gun deaths from homicide, suicide and accidents, not war or terrorism. Interestingly, the death rate from gun-related murders, suicides and accidents significantly outpaced gun deaths from armed conflict in all but one year between 1990 and 2016, according to … [Read more...] about Half the World’s Gun-related Deaths Occur in Just 6 Countries, Including the U.S.
A man starts a drag race in Newark, New Jersey. Matthew Wakem/Photolibrary/Getty Images The first rule of the Mid Night Club was don't talk about the Mid Night Club. The second rule was that you had to have a car that went over 160 mph (257 kph) that you could drive in a sustained, safe manner. Sorry, Fight Club, but the Mid Night Club was a bit more exclusive. On this episode of CarStuff, hosts Scott Benjamin and Ben Bowlin fill us in on the secretive, strict world of the Mid Night Club, a now defunct Japanese street-racing gang. The exclusive and extremely rigorously vetted group of speed enthusiasts were known for their regard for safety and honor, while still blasting down public Tokyo highways at speeds over 200 mph (322 kph). From coded meeting announcements to drawn-out membership rites, the Mid Night Club was not for dabblers. In fact, it only had 75 accepted members at its highest enrollment. The club was founded in 1987, when car and engine tuning was entering a golden … [Read more...] about Meet Japan’s Secret Street-racing Gang: The Mid Night Club