What does the American media focus on?
...a couple of old nuclear reactors which were damaged, resulting in the semi-controlled release of a few dental x-rays' worth of radiation. There's been no loss of life--there's no potential for any--and the nuclear material is contained, and will continue to be contained.
Yet this is the headline: NUCLEAR HORROR IN JAPAN!!!!!!1`11
Or something approximating it.
WSJ editorial, "Nuclear Overreactions".
I'll tell you what: given the choice of living next to that LNG facility that caught fire, or the nuclear plant, I'd take the nuclear plant, hands down. Do you know how much freaking natural gas is in one of those gigantic silver tanks? If one of those things goes up, it would be bad--and there are near a dozen of the damn things, side-by-side. If one tank blows, chances are they all blow, and even if you were a mile away from that you wouldn't be safe.
"Oh," you say, "but they take precautions to prevent fire and there are a whole bunch of safety systems in place!"
Just like the nuclear plant: the reactor core is housed in a thick shell of stainless steel and concrete.
And just like the nuclear plant, the LNG terminal suffered a catastrophic failure due to the earthquake and tsunami. The only difference is, no one died because of the nuke plant.
"Yet!" You say. "People will get cancer and die from that!"
...25 years after Chernobyl, the death toll stands at 57--and most of those deaths occurred because of acute radiation poisoning, firefighters and plant personnel who were exposed to whopping big doses of radiation. There were a handful of thyroid cancers which killed some people--less than five--and otherwise, nothing.
I do concede that exposure to nonfatal doses of radiation raises one's risk of cancer. But the amount of radiation being emitted by the two failed plants in Japan does not rise to that level. In fact, at its worst, the radiation exposure amounted to a single CAT scan.
Do you know how many CAT scans my Mom had just after her stroke? At least three. And that doesn't include the two or three she had in year prior to that. No one was worried about her dying of radiation exposure.
My Dad had at least three angiograms in his life. A CAT scan is nothing compared to an angiogram. He didn't die of cancer, much less radiation poisoning.
The reactors are damaged: they suffered a loss of coolant, and that damaged the cores. The operators had to release steam from the reactor core, which resulted in some scary fireworks, but everything is still locked behind steel and concrete, and it's going to stay there, because the people operating the things are not morons and the guys who designed them weren't, either.
In this kind of event, the reactor core can't go critical again: the partial melting of the core ruins its geometry. All the control rods are in, which drops the reactor beneath critical; the only thing creating heat now is the short-half-life isotopes which are a natural byproduct of burning neutrons. It's a lot of heat, but it's not enough to melt steel and concrete; and even if the entire core melts and lands on the bottom of the vessel, it still won't melt through. And the entire core isn't going to melt; there isn't enough heat being generated for that, because they're dumping seawater into the core to keep it cool.
So no one's died from these reactor troubles, and no one's going to die--unless they suffer a hysterical heart attack from reading the headlines of American newspapers.
* * *
US investors put $1 billion into Japanese economy...before the quake.
* * *
Copper is a really important resource; anything that uses electricity is guaranteed to have a bunch of copper in it. If the global economy is rebounding, why is the price of copper falling?
* * *
It's not an energy source, but it lets us extract more energy from sources. They use CO2 under high pressure to act as a working fluid: get it really hot and run a turbine with it, recondense it, and use it again.
I'm all for increasing the efficiency of existing power plants; but we still need new ones.
* * *
Japan is already out of money because they've been running sizable deficits for the past decade. Now they have to print more yen to fix all the earthquake and tsunami damage.
At a time when Japan already is close to reaching its debt limits, it will have to dig deep to find significantly more funds to finance recovery. Some commentators are already saying that this additional spending will actually have a positive impact on the economy and GDP. In the short-term this may be the case, but it is actually a classic example of the “broken window fallacy.” Every penny that the government spends on the recovery has to be borrowed or taxed away from the productive economy, where it would have been spent on increasing prosperity. Instead, Japan will now spend trillions of yen just to get back to where it was a week ago....and it's going to have to borrow a lot of money to do it, too, because so much of the industrial infrastructure has been lost. (C'mon: Sendai was a major city. What's the opportunity cost of replacing an entire city?)
Sure, Japan's GDP will look fine and dandy--but GDP is not a measurement of a country's economic output. It's an indicator: if GDP is rising it only tends to indicate that the economy is doing well.
Example: the US GDP is rising, albeit very slowly. How's the economy? Official unemployment--U3--is still standing at 9% and the larger measure, U6, says 16%. And in fact the real number may be as high as 22.5%, because neither of those numbers takes into account that the labor participation rate has fallen since 2008. Housing prices and housing starts are 'way down, and wage growth is minimal.
And guess what?
...yen repatriation can easily impact the U.S. bond market. Japan is the third-largest purchaser of U.S. government debt and may exit the market for awhile in order to conserve funds to pay for recovery. When a market player the size of Japan exits, even for a short period, it will have an effect. Expect the U.S. government to have to pay somewhat higher interest on new debt for an unspecified period.That's not going to do us any favors, let me tell you.
* * *
But enough about all that.
I watched the playlist, and got to the last extant ep of the subbed Yawara! Two things stand out to me:
1) Fujiko and Hanazono are totally nuts about each other, though I'm not sure they realize it yet; and
2) Most of the women in that series are idiots.
And I mean idiots, as in "too dumb to be allowed to breed". Jesus.
Ep 58 introduces two new characters, Kyoko and Mari. The latter is a girl with big breasts, and holy shit is she stupid. "Why are men always groping me on the train?" she complains, bending over just enough to let the guy she's talking to take a long look into
And other female characters are pretty dumb, too. Okay, Yawara's friends in high school: none of them believes that Yawara is a judo expert even after she becomes famous. None of Kazamatsuri's girlfriends ever twig to the fact that he's a philanderer. (None of the women in the series do, in fact.) Sayaka--Yawara's rival--doesn't even appear sentient, most of the time. Kuniko Kaga, Matsuda's second photographer, never seems to get that he does not consider her his girlfriend and never will.
Yawara herself is prone to moments of abject stupidity.
Fujiko is approximately on Yawara's level. She's not abysmally stupid like most of the other women in the series.
To be sure, the guys aren't exactly mental giants, either, but at least they seem capable of stringing together a couple of thoughts once in a while. Unlike many of the female characters.
Okay, it's sports anime; it's not supposed to be an in-depth character study and the stupidity drives the comedy. I know all this.
OreImo--good God I wish Kyousuke would slug his little sister. Jesus. I can't talk about ep 11 without giving away the plot, so I won't.
But damn--every other girl in the series (just about) is awesome: Saori, Manami, KuroNeko, they're all great characters. Ayase is a bit of a bitch but not nearly as bad as Kirino is; if I were Kyousuke I would have told the shithead off ages ago and stopped doing anything for her.
He's a nicer guy than I am. Or else he's just a weenie. I don't know.
Yosuga no Sora--ep 11 ended on a scene that made me laugh out loud. It wasn't supposed to be funny; it was supposed to be high drama. But it's a case of me saying to the TV, "What did you think was going to happen, you idiots?"
Fairy Tail continues to be awesome.
* * *
Amaleni gradually crawls towards level 85.
I finished all the Vash'jir quests. The only ones left are the Throne of the Tides quests. I had actually ventured to Deepholm to have a look around, and did some quests there before returning to V. to finish those.
There's an area of Deepholm that makes me cringe. I can't remember the whole name of the area but it's "Silverlight" something-or-other; and you know what it is?
A freakin' MERCURY swamp!
That's right: there's mercury dripping from somewhere far above, and it collects there; and to do one quest you have to swim in it, and fight off animate blobs of mercury, and the whole damn thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. I think I'd rather bathe with reactor water.
When you're swimming in mercury you shouldn't be able to see a damn thing, because it's not transparent. Shit. (BTW mercury does not float on water, either--mercury is almost as heavy as gold is--so don't try to tell me it's a thin skin of mercury atop swampwater.)
But I lined up for a random the other day and ended up in "Throne of the Tides", so when I go in there to do the quests at least this time I'll know what's going on.
* * *
I am worried that I may be coming down with something.
The first guy I talked to at #2 told me he'd just gotten over being laid up for a week with the flu.
I've been sleeping more than usual, and I haven't had the energy to do a damn thing. I figure that it takes 2-5 days for an illness to incubate. Today is day #3; if I don't show any symptoms by Thursday I'll breathe a sigh of relief.
...and then probably be sicker than a dog on Friday. *sigh*