Japan– Uncontrolled News Leak

Thanks to Dem from CT on Daily Kos for this fine post about crowdsourcing vital news.

The idea that governments or companies or anyone gets to control information is sooo 20th century. Sure, plenty of things are secret (but ask the Wikileaks folks for how long) while/but plenty of things are out there for anyone enterprising enough to put the data together.

Does this replace health and disaster reporters and journalists? Not at all. It’s data for them to vet, just like it’s data for us to vet. Sometimes, it’ll be vetted by non-journalists with expertise in a particular area (and some of them, like Nate Silver and Glenn Greenwald, will move from blogger to pundit over time.)

Now, is the data on the internet always going to be right? No, but it will get corroborated and corrected. If it raises the right questions, it’s done its job. In fact, traditional journalism also makes errors (and sometimes sources are flat-out wrong), so the correction process is always a dynamic one.

Dem from CT linked to this site– Pachtube real time crowdsourced radiation maps.

Thank you to all the cranky people who have insisted for years that ‘experts’ should, as an ethical requirement, reveal who is paying them. That helps us put in perspective a reassuring analysis of the risks of nuclear power by a consultant to the nuclear industry.

Before the net, that was the only information we’d be able to get, other than the warnings of those folks waving signs outside the gates. I know, because we were hearing the exact same arguments thirty years ago, from experts paid by the nuclear industry.

Here in the US the Environmental Protection Agency says that 20 of 124 radiation monitors nationwide are out of service.

A Geiger Counter is not terribly expensive or hard to obtain, so maybe we’ll do some crowdsourcing here.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports danger, confusion, and some hope in the struggle to contain the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex…

The water problems of the past four days underscore the complexities and uncertainties that continue to surround the repair effort, as workers, engineers and regulators are forced to confront new problems just as they seem to have solved old ones. Perhaps more unnerving than the specifics of the radioactive water is that it shows how unpredictable the repairs have become, and thus how hard it is for anybody to say with certainty how quickly or easily they can be completed.

Experts say the Japanese are moving in a prudent manner given the enormity of the task. As long as workers are able to keep the cores cool, the experts say, the nuclear material will continue to produce less heat naturally.

“Time is their friend,” said Alexander Sich, an associate professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. “The longer they wait, the cooler the cores get, the less stress on the system.”

The picture changes hour by hour. I hope they will soon have success in bringing the radiation under control. After that is a daunting clean-up job.

One leak I want to see continue is news from every source. Even as workers put themselves in harms way and people in Japan struggle to make sense of conflicting warnings, the industry is already minimizing the crisis and dismissing public concern as ignorance.

The big money, now as thirty years ago, is with the nuclear industry and its favored politicians. Unlike thirty years ago, we can do more than wave signs. Freedom of the press, they say, belongs to him who owns the press. For now, that freedom is enjoyed by countless small publishers, in Fukushima, in California, in Russia and Norway and Pennsylvania.

Radiation from Japan’s nuclear disaster has circled the globe several times, as has the news. Truth will win.

Situation Worsens in Japan

It’s a bad sign that it’s taking so long for Japan to get its nuclear reactors under control. From Reuters today…

(Reuters) – Highly radioactive water has been found at a second reactor at a crippled nuclear power station in Japan, the plant’s operator said, as fears of contamination escalated two weeks after a huge earthquake and tsunami battered the complex.

Underscoring growing international concern about nuclear power raised by the accident in northeast Japan, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement it was time to reassess the international nuclear safety regime.

Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, making his first public statement on the crisis in a week, said the situation at the Fukushima nuclear complex, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was “nowhere near” being resolved.

Two workers are in a hospital with radiation burns, seventeen exposed. The best hope is that the immediate crisis is resolved soon. Assessing the damage will take time. Nuclear optimists insist there is no real danger from radiation, but the world is watching, and nuclear power will be a hard sell in the future.

Epidemiology Map

Valerie Brown, of Alternet, takes apart the official reassurances that ‘no immediate risk’ of harm from radioactive exposure is the whole story.

On a spring day in 1975, the first words I heard as I rose through the fog of anesthetic were “it was malignant.” I was twenty-four years old. A couple of months earlier during a routine physical my doctor had found a mass on my thyroid gland. X-rays and ultrasound had failed to clarify whether the mass was a fluid-filled cyst or a solid tumor. The only choice was surgery. The tissue analysis during the operation confirmed a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. The surgeon removed one lobe and the isthmus of the barbell-shaped gland at the base of my neck. I was informed that I’d take thyroid hormone for the rest of my life because if my own remnant gland were to start functioning again, it might grow itself another cancer. And so I have taken the little pill every morning for thirty-six years. It took a long time for the screaming red scar around my neck – the kind that was later dubbed the “Chernobyl necklace” – to fade.

The rest of her post is worth reading
, especially as this subject is not easily reduced to sound bites and slogans.

The phrase, ‘Chernobyl necklace’ is a reference to the approximately 4,000 children and adolescents diagnosed with thyroid cancer who lived in the path of nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The International Atomic Energy Agency has a somewhat more upbeat take on this consequence than Ms. Brown.

This is not an attempt to speculate about numbers and relative risk. That requires epidemiological research. It’s just to say that today’s news photo of a Japanese woman wearing a mask as she feeds her infant from a bottle is an illustration of one of the deepest and most real concerns about this present crisis and nuclear power in general.

Update on Edgewood Community Garden from Steve Sycos

There is progress being made in finding a plot for the community garden, as it detailed below by Steve Stycos:


Community garden plans are progressing. We are focusing on the southeastern corner of the Edgewood Highland parking lot.

Annemarie Bruun discussed the project with Rich Pederson, who runs Southside Community Land Trust’s City Farm. He recommends removing asphalt whenever possible. Southside’s community garden coordinator is moving to Boston, so she is not available to meet with us. Her replacement says she is too busy to meet, so Annemarie may just go to her office to briefly get some details on how they run their gardens.

This morning, I met with Joel Zisserson, the school department’s head of grounds, the city DPW director Dave Ventetuolo and highway supervisor John Corso. Joel is supportive of the project and the city may be able to remove the asphalt, if we want them to.

Water, however, is in limbo. To make a connection to a water line now requires “a hot box,” or a heated box with a back flow valve to prevent contamination of the water supply. Just recessing a faucet in a box in the ground is no longer permitted. Dave estimated a hot box could cost $10,000 to $15,000. They suggested, and I agreed, that the best option, at least until we establish the garden, is to talk with nearby homeowners about running a hose from their homes and paying them for water. I will go door to door this weekend to talk with them. If that fails, I will go back to the school department.

We also discussed starting small and then expanding. Joel suggested phase one go from the last telephone pole to the far eastern end of the lot, but nothing is set in stone. Joel is also going to talk with the superintendent about a multi-year lease and liability. He also agreed to let us drill through the asphalt to do soil tests, if we want.

Joel, John and Dave also questioned whether leaving the asphalt in place and putting raised beds on top (as some community gardens have done) would work. They thought it would be hot and worry about how the site slopes, encouraging erosion. The slope is more pronounced when you look at it from the downhill side.

So we have a few more details to work out before we meet as a group to make plans.

Can This Marriage be Saved?

Dr. Laura Gallagher, from the distinguished Think Tank and Anti-Advocacy group, GLUM(MUN) (Gays and Lesbians Undermine Marriage and Make Us Nervous) takes questions from real readers who bare their hearts and air their dirty laundry so we can be entertained and enlightened. And get blog hits.

Thank you, Dr. Gallagher, for guest blogging here. Readers ask us…

Q. Dear Dr. Gallagher, 

My husband and I have been happily married for 55 years, and we weren’t no spring chickens when we tied the knot, if you get what I mean. We agreed early on to let bygones be bygones, and did not worry about what happened before that special night in Vegas that ended in the Chapel. We have enjoyed many decades together in loving harmony.

For the past year, Frank has not seemed himself. He gets up and puts on his pants, and then puts on another pair of pants over the pants. I don’t dare to say anything because he’s gotten very touchy. He makes sandwiches and puts them under the bed, and gets furious if I sweep them up.

I was taught to cater to my man, and at my age I’m too tired to care anyway, but there’s another problem. He thinks I’m cheating on him. I have not been near another man since President Eisenhower was running the country, but he’s insanely jealous. Why could he not have been this hot, like, around the 1970’s? What am I doing wrong?

Signed: Edna

A. Dear Edna,

It’s the Gay’s fault. Your husband has been corrupted by the Gay Agenda via the Mainstream Media, and he thinks that he can lure men into his bedroom by putting sandwiches under his bed. We see this many times in our clinical practice. His suspicion that you are cheating is projection. He is secretly attracted to a man.

Are there any gays in your neighborhood? Town? State? Well, there you are.

Send a check today to GLUM. We care about your marriage, and we know best.

Dear Dr. Gallagher,

My wife and I believe in traditional family values. She would stay home with the children, and I would support us working for General Motors. We were so happy until the Hummer IV (Bigger than a Breadbox) project went to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, somewhere out of state. They got the goldmine, and our town got the shaft.
Tiffany and I were willing to do whatever we had to do to support our family. We finally ended up applying to WalMart. She got hired as a greeter, they said I was overqualified.

Tiffany is a spunky girl, and she would do anything for me and our kids.  The problem is, I am taking care of the kids. This is way harder than I ever imagined. Tiffany has changed. She seems to like being out of the house and says she is fine with the way things are for a while. I want out.

Signed: Trapped and Unfulfilled

Dear Trapped,

It’s the Gay’s fault. In the past, Tiffany would have strapped on her best bonnet and gone to petition the factory owner, trembling but resolute. He would have smiled sardonically, cupped her chin in his hand and casually granted you employment, as a coal hauler, or whatever. (B.Cartland, 1967)
Your family would get no benefits. Whether the factory owner would get lucky is a whole novel.(Harlequin)

So would you rather have a couple of the kids die of consumption (do you have enough spares?) and live a life of high drama, or wipe up Cheerios while taking courses online for a cubicle job with benefits?

There was a Golden Age. Really. Before there were Gays. If it were not for them, your life would be Gothic.

Send a check today to GLUM. We care about your marriage, and we know best.

Dear Dr. Gallagher,

I heard GLUM experts testify that the real meaning and purpose of marriage is procreation. I have a confession to make. I found myself single again through widowhood, and fell in love with Ted. We married, though we are of mature years.

What is the meaning of marriage, when procreation ain’t gonna happen?
Signed, Still Ticking

Dear Still Ticking,

Like I don’t recognize that as a throwaway phrase from a David Bowie song that I listened to for research purposes? You are a troll, asking me trick questions. I could tell by your lapsing into slang, because you just can’t help it.

Well, forget about it, Jane Doe, if that is your real name. Studies show that your odds of finding a man when you are in the geezer demographic is way on the edge of unlikely. That makes you a deviant.

That means you are the type that would notice two gay guys moving in next door and shrug, instead of getting out torches and pitchforks.

As far as your question, there are so few of you deviants that you don’t comprise a base worth playing up to. But I could be wrong. Maybe I should tolerate you and hold out the promise that if you’re really good and humble, we might acknowledge your existence.

Send a check today to GLUM. We care about your marriage, and we know best.

Thanks to Dr. Laura Gallagher and GLUM for letting us use their column, and send your lovelorn problems to Kmareka at this address. We Care.


Better News

Heard on the radio today that 2 of the 6 Fukushima reactors are under control. A lot of good people are putting their lives on the line for this, and a lot depends on it.

I hope they are successful, and that we will look closely at all the aspects of the worldwide energy crisis that brings us to this.