Simanaitis Says

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OZY AND THE WOLF

I’M UNSURE HOW my email got linked to OZY’s Presidential Daily Brief, but I am perfectly happy to receive it. On November 17, 2020, OZY offered an intriguing item: “Robot Wolves Keep Bears From Japanese Town.” Here are tidbits on this wolfish robot, the news aggregator that brought it to my attention, plus my usual Internet sleuthing on both.

OZY Media. As described in Wikipedia, OZY “is an international media and entertainment company launched in September 2013 by former CNN and MSNBC anchor, journalist, and businessman Carlos Watson and Goldman Sachs alumnus Samir Rao. Ozy describes its mission as to help curious people see a broader and a bolder world.” 

Wikipedia also cites Forbes’ description of OZY journalism as “a non-traditional approach to delivering news that matters to multicultural millennials.” OZY Fest 2018 was called a “neoliberal nightmare” by Rolling Stone, “a sizzling hot festival for folks who love Coachella and neoliberalism” by GQ, and “a progressive alternate reality” by The Washington Post.

Gee, all these adjectives don’t apply to me, but thus far OZY’s alternate reality comes a helluva lot closer to mine than, say, The Wall Street Journal op-ed’s. 

True, OZY may be inherently neoliberal and progressive, but it always credits its sources up front, in this particular case, Smithsonian and The New York Times.

The Wolves of Takikawa. The Japanese city of Takikawa, population 40,000, lies in the northern island of Hokkaido, parts of which remind me of Maine, forested with a rugged coastline. 

As described in Smithsonian, “Beginning in September, Takikawa residents started reporting bears emerging from the surrounding forests to roam the town. Greater Japan is also experiencing an increase in bear sightings and encounters this year.” Deforestation was shrinking the Ussuri brown bear habitat. 

“In response to this uptick in dangerous bear-human interactions,” Smithsonian continues, “Takikawa purchased a pair of robotic wolves—a product dubbed ‘Monster Wolf’—from Japanese machinery maker Ohta Seiki… Whenever Monster Wolf’s motion sensor is tripped, its LED eyeballs glow red and its head swivels from side to side, while a loudspeaker blares one of 60 noises ranging from howls to heavy machinery….”

A Monster Wolf of Takikawa. Image by Kyodo/Reuters from The Verge. See also The Guardian video at Smithsonian.

Nighttime surveillance indicates that the Monster Wolves have been successful—and more than a little scary.  

Another Hokkaido Bear. I’ve never been to Takikawa, but I recall a Sake-fueled adventure involving Wife Dottie, R&T Assistant Art Director Henry Thomas, Honda PR specialist Kurt Antonius, me—and a Hokkaido bear.

Our hotel displayed a impressive bear of carved wood in its lobby. The beast wasn’t quite life-size, but still hefty enough to challenge Wife Dottie, Henry and me when we cajoled our tour guide into helping borrow the bear and hide it under a blanket on PR pal Kurt’s futon.

Our tour guide wangled a key to Kurt’s room. Henry and I hefted bear-san. Wife Dottie operated the elevator. Purely  an oversight, none of us advised the hotel management of this temporary heist. 

The next morning, we returned bear-san to the lobby; Kurt gifted each of us with a miniature Hokkaido bear as a souvenir. 

Fortunately, the hotel had no robotic wolves around to scare us. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020 

2 comments on “OZY AND THE WOLF

  1. Michael Rubin
    November 25, 2020

    So if true area reminds you Maine, how’s the local seafood? Any Hokkaido shellfish or other marine delicacies? (My army travels on its stomach.)

    • simanaitissays
      November 25, 2020

      It was years ago, but I recall little gelatenous marbles sort of drifting jellyfish-like in jars of murky broth.
      Uh, I‘ll have a Lobster Roll, please.

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