Friday, August 30, 2013

Bathing Birds, Bugs, and Bees...

How to take a proper bath... if you are a bird.

Do teachers work hard enough?

Paul Krugman discusses the good ol' days.

Those who pay (or don't pay) income tax.

Margaret Atwood interview.

Fantastic views of the lions of the Serengeti.

What is really causing heart disease.  (Hint: our crappy diets and what we're being fed by the food industry.)

Bugs, toilets and mushrooms will save the world!

Musical mobs in subways!!

Bach on a mobius strip.

Studying the bee deaths in detail.

The condition of China's farm land.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Welcome to the Middle East

 photo enhanced-buzz-21855-1377383565-35_zpsdef9161e.jpg

Click here to embiggen.

(Via Bryan of Why Now?)

Corporations do not act in the public interest...

They act in their own interests.

Two Workers Were Assigned To Check 1,000 Tanks At Leaking Fukushima
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier. 
The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s latest criticism of Tokyo Electric Power Co. came a day after the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant acknowledged that the 300-ton (300,000-liter, 80,000-gallon) leak probably began nearly a month and a half before it was discovered Aug. 19. 
In a meeting with agency officials and experts Tuesday night, TEPCO said radioactivity near the leaky tank and exposure levels among patrolling staff started to increase in early July. There is no sign that anyone tried to find the source of that radioactivity before the leak was discovered. 
On Wednesday, regulatory officials said TEPCO has repeatedly ignored their instructions to improve their patrolling procedures to reduce the risk of overlooking leakages. They said TEPCO lacked expertise and also underestimated potential impact of the leak because underground water is shallower around the tank than the company initially told regulators. 
“Their instructions, written or verbal, have never been observed,” Toyoshi Fuketa, a regulatory commissioner, said at the agency’s weekly meeting Wednesday.

First Day of School

Sunday, August 25, 2013

About that Pacific tuna....

Don't eat it. (edit: changed the link)

Update 8/27:  Japanese fishermen checking for radiation in fish.

Update: More on the Japanese government taking over the clean up after the Tokyo Electric corporation made a complete hash of it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From Books to Art

Book lover problems.  Mine is that I've run out of bookshelves....

Legos and gender identity.

I didn't know Daily Kos was keeping track of weekly accidental gun shootings.  We are a clumsy bunch, aren't we?

Plastics cause diabetes and obesity?  How about wood?

I do believe that being bored actually does not give you the right to shoot people.

Glasses that help people with red-green color blindness.

Sperm and eggs made from skin cells.

Make good art.

Just a thought...

Why doesn't Obama do an executive order and demand that all states provide all legal voters in that state with state issued voter ids?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Worse to worser to horrific

At Fukushima, we have six top-floor pools all loaded with fuel that eventually will have to be removed, the most important being Reactor 4, although Reactor 3 is in pretty bad shape too. Spent fuel pools were never intended for long-term storage, they were only to assist short-term movement of fuel. Using them as a long-term storage pool is a huge mistake that has become an 'acceptable' practice and repeated at every reactor site worldwide. 
We have three 100-ton melted fuel blobs underground, but where exactly they are located, no one knows. Whatever 'barriers' TEPCO has put in place so far have failed. Efforts to decontaminate radioactive water have failed. Robots have failed. Camera equipment and temperature gauges...failed. Decontamination of surrounding cities has failed. 
We have endless releases into the Pacific Ocean that will be ongoing for not only our lifetimes, but our children’s' lifetimes. We have 40 million people living in the Tokyo area nearby. We have continued releases from the underground corium that reminds us it is there occasionally with steam events and huge increases in radiation levels. Across the Pacific, we have at least two peer-reviewed scientific studies so far that have already provided evidence of increased mortality in North America, and thyroid problems in infants on the west coast states from our initial exposures.
 We have increasing contamination of the food chain, through bioaccumulation and biomagnification. And a newly stated concern is the proximity of melted fuel in relation to the Tokyo aquifer that extends under the plant. If and when the corium reaches the Tokyo aquifer, serious and expedient discussions will have to take place about evacuating 40 million people from the greater metropolitan area. As impossible as this sounds, you cannot live in an area which does not have access to safe water.
The operation to begin removing fuel from such a severely damaged pool has never been attempted before. The rods are unwieldy and very heavy, each one weighing two-thirds of a ton. But it has to be done, unless there is some way to encase the entire building in concrete with the pool as it is. I don't know of anyone discussing that option, but it would seem much 'safer' than what they are about to attempt...but not without its own set of risks.
 And all this collateral damage will continue for decades, if not centuries, even if things stay exactly the way they are now. But that is unlikely, as bad things happen like natural disasters and deterioration with time...earthquakes, subsidence, and corrosion, to name a few. Every day that goes by, the statistical risk increases for this apocalyptic scenario. No one can say or know how this will play out, except that millions of people will probably die even if things stay exactly as they are, and billions could die if things get any worse.
Link via Steve Bates

Update 8/21: Definition of anomaly: We have no idea how bad it is.
Fukushima warning: danger level at nuclear plant jumps to 'serious' Japan's nuclear agency dramatically raises status after saying a day earlier that radioactive water leak was only an 'anomaly'
Update 8/23: Finally pleading for international help:
TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, admits it needs overseas help to contain the radioactive fallout, after 18 months of trying to control it internally. It comes after the latest leak at the facility was deemed a “serious incident. 
"Many other countries outside of Japan have experienced decommissioning reactors, so we hope we can consult them more and utilize their experience,” TEPCO’s vice president, Zengo Aizawa, said at a news conference on Wednesday night. 

"In that sense, we need support, not only from the Japanese government but from the international community to do this job." 

The call comes after one of the 1,060 temporary tanks used to store highly contaminated water sprang a leak on Wednesday, discharging as much as 300 tons of radioactive liquid containing large amounts of cesium. Further tests revealed excessive radiation levels elsewhere in the facility. 

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) rated the incident 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which spans from 1 to 7.
Update: Just a little more than 200,000 tons of radioactive water.... that's all....
TOKYO — The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear power plant sounded the alarm on the gravity of the deepening crisis of containment at the coastal site on Friday, saying that there are more than 200,000 tons of radioactive water in makeshift tanks vulnerable to leaks, with no reliable way to check on them or anywhere to transfer the water. 
The latest disclosures add to a long list of recent accidents, leaks and breakdowns that have underscored grave vulnerabilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site more than two years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at three reactors. 
They come two weeks after the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, promised that his government would take a more active role in the site’s cleanup, raising questions over how seriously he has taken that pledge. Mr. Abe’s government has continued to push for a restart of the country’s nuclear power program, and he heads to the Middle East on Saturday to promote Japanese exports to the region, including nuclear technology.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rock and Roll..

Earthquake Record Shakes Up Pacific Northwest Predictions
The study delves into the past of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a tectonic boundary that stretches more than 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) from Northern California to Vancouver Island. The exhaustive, 170-page report from a team at Oregon State University (OSU) offers ample evidence that 19 or 20 magnitude-9.0 earthquakes have ripped along the fault over the last 10,000 years. 
"That is a remarkable record that goes back a long time," said geophysicist Craig Weaver, the Pacific Northwest coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program, who was not associated with the research.  
Weaver said that it's been known since the late 1980s that the Cascadia Subduction Zone can rupture its entire length all at once, producing magnitude-9.0 quakes — the same magnitude as Japan's devastating March 2011 earthquake — along a fault that is even closer to shore. Yet the new report shows it has done so repeatedly, about every 500 years. 
The last magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit in January 1700, and sent a deadly tsunami across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. That event has been well-documented both historically and geologically.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday frolics... and an elephant.

baby elephant in tub

‘Frack Gag’ Bans Children From Talking About Fracking, Forever
The Hallowich case shows how drilling companies can use victims’ silence to rewrite their story. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that before their settlement, the Hallowichs complained that drilling caused “burning eyes, sore throats, headaches and earaches, and contaminated their water supply.” But after the family was gagged, gas exploration company Range Resources’ spokesman Matt Pitzarella insisted “they never produced evidence of any health impacts,” and that the family wanted to move because “they had an unusual amount of activity around them.” Public records will show, once again, that fracking did not cause health problems.
When fracking and oil production creates a sink hole, who loses?  BP blames oil spill victims.

The NSA comes clean... or something.

Iran's new leader speaks of moderation and respect.

Marine life moving towards the poles.

Privatization has failed in these places.

Farmers suspicious of new Monsanto crops... I wonder why?

Speaking up against racism.

NASA finds the source of the Magellanic Stream

The Conservative March Toward a Society of Sociopaths

Celebrating sexual choice.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Worser and worser

Japan nuclear body says radioactive water at Fukushima an 'emergency'
(Reuters) - Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an "emergency" that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country's nuclear watchdog said on Monday. 
This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters. 
Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, he said.
Tepco's "sense of crisis is weak," Kinjo said. "This is why you can't just leave it up to Tepco alone" to grapple with the ongoing disaster. 
"Right now, we have an emergency," he said. 
Tepco has been widely castigated for its failure to prepare for the massive 2011 tsunami and earthquake that devastated its Fukushima plant and lambasted for its inept response to the reactor meltdowns. It has also been accused of covering up shortcomings. 
It was not immediately clear how much of a threat the contaminated groundwater could pose. In the early weeks of the disaster, the Japanese government allowed Tepco to dump tens of thousands of metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency move. 
The toxic water release was however heavily criticized by neighboring countries as well as local fishermen and the utility has since promised it would not dump irradiated water without the consent of local townships.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

From here to there... on Saturday no less.

Making the entire North American continent into corn fields...  That part which isn't on fire anyway.

Lost Egyptian city found under water.

Radioactive Fukushima groundwater rises above barrier being built to contain it

Caribbean has lost 80 percent of its coral reefs due to climate change and pollution

How solar farms could help save bees and butterflies

Jamie Oliver Campaign makes McDonald’s change recipe
Jamie Oliver Campaign makes McDonald’s change recipe According to Oliver, the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, according to the presenter, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption. 
According to the chef and presenter, Jamie Oliver, who has undertaken a war against the fast food industry: “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.” 
Besides the low quality of the meat, the ammonium hydroxide is harmful to health. Oliver calls it “the pink slime process.” 
“Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children?” asked the chef, who wages a war against the fast food industry. 
In one of his initiatives, Oliver demonstrates to children how nuggets are made ». After selecting the best parts of the chicken, the remains (fat, skin and internal organs) are processed for these fried foods.

Study Finds Turmeric Is As Effective As Prozac For Treating Depression
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family. The average person may best recognize turmeric as a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. The active compound curcumin is known to have a wide range of medicinal benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, antibacterial, and antiviral activities. In India, turmeric has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments. Turmeric can also be used topically to heal sores due to its antimicrobial properties.

US regulators 'find evidence' of banks fixing derivative rates
US regulators have reportedly been handed evidence that traders at some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated a key rate for derivatives, pocketing millions at the expense of pension funds in the process.