Monthly Archives: November, 2012

New Normal in Japan After Fukushima

Just Keep Smiling

Common Dreams

Fukushima’s disaster task force has started issuing leaflets with a bird character called Kibitan telling children to stay away from pools and ditches where radioactive cesium from the damaged nuclear power plant might have accumulated.

The smiling, round Kibitan explains why radiation is dangerous, urging children to make a habit of washing their hands and gargling their mouths after coming in from the outdoors.

Radiation can make people sick if allowed to get inside their body, says the cartoon bird, which is a variant of the local narcissus flycatcher.

The bird is definitely well-informed on the dangers of radiation, and the autoradiographs of a dead Fukushima flycatcher posted in April by a Japanese photojournalist confirm that.

Below are the photos, from the blog Fukushima Diary.

‘hot’ enough to develop photo paper







A Ghostly Outline








The cute public safety cartoons in this century are as sinister as Duck and Cover was in the last. But it’s not all bad. You can send away for a pocket geiger on your cell phone.

From here in Rhode Island, it’s hard to vet internet content of blogs from Japan. On American news sites Fukushima is completely off the radar. On Japanese sites like Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri the nuclear crisis is off the front page but continues to develop. Japanese citizen journalists say their government is not giving them the whole truth. The news stream at Uhohjapan2 blog is deeply frightening.

The people of Japan have suffered enough in the wake of the disasters of 2011. They should not be further harmed by panic and despair. But the people of Japan are owed the truth. The world, also, needs to know the true extent of the nuclear contamination from the Fukushima disaster. Nations are rushing to build more nuclear plants, for energy and for war.

During the last presidential debate, when the topic was energy, I noticed an interesting omission from President Obama. He did not say the ‘N’ word. He did not mention nuclear power. Mitt Romney did, at least twice.

President Obama did support nuclear power as part of the mix, but I wonder if the global picture is looking different now. The economic costs and ongoing environmental effects will slow the rush to nuclear.

The Fukushima disaster is not over, but if we are lucky the damage will be limited, and if we are wise we will learn that dangerous, expensive and centralized power is not the way.

Kiersten Marek:

This one looks really good — will try soon!

Originally posted on The Verdant Home:

I absolutely freakin’ love Indian food. Unfortunately, I have not had a great amount of success in replicating the deliciousness found at my favorite Indian food restaurant. ….until this recipe. This dish is simply omg-yum-drool-amazing and even better, it’s the easiest thing ever! Inspired, I knocked out a quick batch of naan. Don’t let the yeast intimidate you. Making naan is only slightly more work than this recipe, which is to say, easy-peasy! Serve with plain yogurt and cilantro for a bright and clean contrast (a common theme in Indian food).

Curried Eggplant with Garbanzos and Spinach

3 large cloves, minced
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/4 cup EVOO

1 medium eggplant, cut into about 1″ chunks
1 medium onion, cut into 1″ wedges
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1″ chunks
2 red jalapenos, cleaned out and minced
One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup peeled and…

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Kiersten Marek:

Important new research on how poverty and stress impact children — often these two factors can result in a child presenting as having ADHD…we have to work on the environmental stuff that drives a child’s inattentive behavior.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The latest research studies from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child demonstrate how “toxic stress” can severely damage children’s minds.

Everyone needs to learn to deal with adversity, says Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Harvard Center, and some stress is a good learning experience.

But the conditions associated with living in poverty harms children’s development.

“The same brain flexibility, called plasticity, that makes children open to learning in their early years also makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from the toxic stressors that often accompany poverty: high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food instability; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse; and other problems, according to Pat Levitt, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Southern California and the director of the Keck School of Medicine Center on the Developing Child in Los Angeles.

“Good experiences, like nurturing parents and rich early-child-care environments, help build…

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Churches and Occupy to the Rescue after Sandy

Brita Rose at Common Dreams reports on the community response to Hurricane Sandy.

Light After the Storm – Local Churches Partner with Occupy Sandy in Grass Roots Relief Efforts
by Brita Rose

It was a beautiful sight — throngs of volunteers lining up outside a local church on Sunday, Day Five of the local recovery initiative spearheaded by Occupy Sandy. The number of willing helpers had tripled over the last three days alone, a response as dizzying as it was encouraging for the coordinators at the relief hub in St. Jacobi Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.

Occupy Sandy is an offshoot of the Occupy Movement, which, until now was by some pundits given up for dead. In collaboration with Occupy Sunset Park,, and, it emerged to meet the essential needs of storm victims while larger charities were already turning away willing volunteers, just a few days after the storm. It began organizing local relief efforts so that supplies could be immediately sent to the most devastated areas — beginning with Red Hook and The Rockaways. To their own surprise the Occupy activists found themselves doing so with an efficiency and speed that was sometimes outpacing government relief organizations. While the latter focused on essential infrastructure — pumping out subway stations and restoring transportation and power — independent groups were able to reach isolated areas by building community solidarity and mutual aid on the local level. Both entities were needed, as was becoming ever more apparent.

Read the rest here.

Kiersten Marek:

Pew Charitable Trusts Foundation reports that our poorest neighborhoods suffered terrible losses in the Great Recession.

Originally posted on Nepal - the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest:

Comment: One Nepali poet wrote, “God, kindly give me more trouble if you really love me”

Families living in poor neighborhoods lost almost everything during the Great Recession, potentially making it more difficult for them to gain a better life in the future, according to a recent report.

Households living in high-poverty neighborhoods saw a 91 percent decline in their overall wealth over the course of the downturn, according to a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Though low-income families lost less than their richer counterparts in terms of absolute value during the recession, their loss of wealth was much more extreme as a proportion of their total assets: households in high-poverty neighborhoods saw their net worth drop to $3,000 in 2009 from $32,000 in 2007, Diana Elliott, research manager of Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, told The Huffington Post.

This wealth drop among low-income families could prevent already…

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Diane Ravitch Featured in The New Yorker

Truly, Diane Ravitch is an amazing woman — no matter what side of the education reform movement you are on, you must admit this. She is 74 years old and blogs about 10 times a day, runs all over the country defending public education and helping to build morale for an industry being brutally attacked, and still finds time work on a book. Since she started her blog last April, I have learned so much from her.

Diane Ravitch Vs. The Education Reform Movement

Kiersten Marek:

Fascinating post on the nature of relationships and the influence of patriarchy.

Originally posted on The Blog of Disquiet:

I’ve been reading sad books. Books about sad people. While I was reading Suzanne Scanlon’s Promising Young Women (which I reviewed here), I was rereading Two Girls, Fat and Thin by Mary Gaitskill, and at this point in my life I must have reread it five or six times. It’s always a bad idea for me to read this book—I’m always in a funk for a week after, sometimes longer, or perhaps but now it’s just lodged itself somewhere inside me and each time I reread it it’s like lighting a match. Two Girls is about two girls, but it’s also about gender war(s), heterosexuality as violence. Chris Kraus writes about wanting to solve heterosexuality before turning 40 in I Love Dick but I feel like every conversation with single straight women friends over beer is an attempt to solve heterosexuality, and after a few drinks the solution is…

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Kiersten Marek:

Interesting review of “Back to Blood” by Tom Wolfe.

Originally posted on The Story's Story:

The real problem with Back to Blood is that you’ve already read it, most notably in The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full—and if you haven’t read those, you should start with them. Back to Blood has the same assortment of obsessions and interests: there is the child with an unusual name and an elite pedigree: “Last week he totally forgot to call the dean, the one with the rehabilitated harelip, at their son Fiver’s boarding school, Hotchkiss [. . .]” But does anyone still care about elite boarding schools? Does anyone still care about the Miami Herald other than the people who work there? The father of Fiver is the editor, and he thinks it is “one of the half-dozen-or-so most important newspapers in the United States” in an era when the era of newspapers has passed.

The Miami nightclub is named “Balzac’s,” after another…

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Kiersten Marek:

The business of privatizing and profiting from education marches on…

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Soon after the elections, the mega-corporation K12 convened a conference call with investors to boast about the opening of new markets for virtual charters in Georgia and Washington State.

K12 is the company founded by the Milken brothers to sell online schooling for-profit.

It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its CEO, Ron Packard, has a background at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Last year, he was paid $5 million.

The academic results of its schools are poor. The National Education Policy Center reviewed K12 and found that its students fare poorly in relation to test scores and graduation rates. The NCAA won’t accept credits from one of its online schools. The New York Times wrote a blistering critique of K12.

But K12, like some other charter operators, makes campaign contributions (as it did in Georgia), and the politicians care more about those contributions than about the children of…

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Kiersten Marek:

I second the idea — let’s honor Veterans by helping them find good jobs.

Originally posted on Trend Lines:

Today we honor veterans, at least that’s the idea if we can find the time between trips to the mall.  I hope you read about or  listen to their stories today.  If you happen to come by this blog, on this important day, here is one important story.  The unemployment rate among those who have served on active military duty  is higher than it is for those who have not served,  at all levels of educational attainment.  I am no expert on why, but I know it  is no way to thank men and women for their service.   Below is a chart that shows the unemployment rate among 25-34 year olds in New Hampshire, by educational attainment and whether or not they ever served on active military duty.    So honor them today for sure, but  hire them tomorrow if you can.

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