Friday, March 18, 2011

Typical Lack of Insight

Right now people are having some massive problems with sending and receiving with Insight email...that is, even if you don't have Insight internet services, your emails to any friends that do, are going undelivered for sometimes weeks, or are not being delivered at all.

My MOM noticed this before I did since she emails my aunts and her Sunday School class all the time.

All I'd noticed is that my online webmail account came up one day with old settings I'd recently deleted--AND I WANTED IT THAT WAY, INSIGHT!!! I didn't even know it at the time, but dozens of emails I was supposed to be getting are just being lost, or delivered days later as messages buried at the bottom of dozens of 'error reports' that I'm supposed to plow through to get my real emails.



It's back to the bbb to report 'em--it's the only thing that made them honest last time, and the one before that, too.

The guys at are always on top of problems, solving them, getting to the heart of the 'matter'. They're trying to 'get to the heart' of this one. Note the one 'poster' who keeps telling the others to go set up a free email account, even though Insight customers are paying, once again, for services 'un-rendered'.

Makes me wonder how many local and regional politicians are stuck with Insight right now. That's mainly the only way some kind of legislation, or legal correction, will ever be put into place, believe me, I know.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lessons to be Learned from Japan's Catastrophe

The Great Greek philosophers, famous writers, and many political statesmen, have all used the terminology of their times to express a common notion: that we, as a people, should learn from the past, or else we are doomed to repeat it.

In this, the conception of a new age of digital communications and social media, we obviously have come to a new immediate awareness of the world around us, and that early concept has come to mean much more with each passing day.

Japan's tragedy made an impression on me.

They are landlocked, crammed in, with population density taking on a whole new meaning. This condition of life, the age of the nation, and the high level of education and median technology familiarity has 'readied' their entire nation or such misfortune as this earthquake.

It didn't matter, however, that even many Japanese elderly indeed did have cell phones that notified them of any and all developments in this currently expanding and intensifying tragedy. With their technology-fascinated and digital-media-imbibed culture, I'd bet there are less Japanese retirees without cell phone and social-media access than there are American college kids who might even miss a university lock-down mass alert text during a lone-wolf rampage. I know that's a mouthful, but just think--and think how much it just helped their entire nation.

It's an apocalypse over there. Anyone who--like me--had already started secretly hoping and praying that Sendai could eventually, someday recover--as New Orleans has valiantly done after Katrina--was quietly and breathlessly muted, as one, two, then three, four and then all of the big nuclear power facilities in this area of Japan began showing the outward, visible signs that they had not been built to even the quake-resistant standards of many of their downtown businesses, and indeed were all in various stages of meltdown.

At this point, the Japanese media failed the people, as had their government already. See, now we all realize how much their entire region was in a stage that made it yet another topographic nightmarish recipe for compounded disaster.

Their technology-related media shut down, because people really didn't have as much access to cell-related or mobile media than earlier indicated by our own. Perhaps it was some remnant of the ridiculous carry-overs we have adopted here, in our own prejudices of their people in general. Plus, sure--we're all independent nations, here. We have our big-city worries, they have theirs. What could we do, just like what could they do, if they saw such things happen to us?

I have to admit, shameful as it is, for one moment, I got stuck in a misogynous ideal there, and intentionally played with words...what would they do? This quickly washed away as I saw people holding up signs looking for their sisters and families, women crying because they just weren't strong enough to hold on to their baby's hand long enough to drag them to safety, and people, routed like mice, through Sendai and surrounding burbs, into blind alleys, where they were washed away in the blink of an eye, surrendering their last breath to one horrendous black wall of water after another--a precipice-ridden, black-laden, vacuous microcosm of rushing, dark, death, all during their struggle to survive more aftershocks than ever recorded in history...and all while trying to locate that last one member of their family, the last one in a wheelchair, even the last faithful dog bought for their already swept-away child...only a memory now.

Whether the Japanese media was so muddled in its own version of empirical latency, was bought out by the very corporations that built their Jenga-styled nuclear power sites, or had enough international media interests, their own predictions of the loss of life seem more like predications, or even social constructs. It was almost like watching some terrible, graphic video game, like a version of 'The Sims' franchise called 'The Sim's: End-of-World Scenarios', made for death row psychotic convicts suffering from dementia. I started feeling for these helpless people, and the worst hadn't even begun.

So many of the Japanese media reporters were shown on our own major news networks, that I began watching their mild, almost surrealistic attitudes with some revulsion. CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews all had their own Sendai correspondents still sitting in their own offices during live telecasts, even after the eventual looming enormity of the threat had made itself known, that I became sick waiting for the US news networks to just stop everything and start yelling: "why are you still in there? Get up, get the hell out! What--are you crazy?"

In the midst of the 300+ aftershocks that shook the big island all the way to Tokyo, many of the American news anchors did start telling their sister network anchors and reporters (more likely lower-level reporters, by their factual, actually submissive, delivery styles) to do just that, although many were seemed keenly bent on having this story theirs, and so another corrupt type of co-op began, with our own TV anchors realizing this would boost their careers also, and so backed off their warnings to sound more like sternly-delivered statements of concern ("you realize that--if you are in any real immediate danger over there, we'd all rather you get out, and take care of yourself"). I'm not so sure I'd have kept any American news anchor or reporting job either, what with the likelihood of my breaking down and yelling "Run! Get out! Get the heck out of there", and the like.

Reports amassed within 2 hours of the initial [underestimated] shock were telling us, from our immediate -media cat-bird seats, that Sendai residents should be running, and their own media yelling for them to do the same thing: to 'run, get out, there is obvious, imminent loss-of-life!'. Still, Japanese media reports were straight out of every hackneyed stereotyped Japanese B-movie from...well, from old Godzilla movies, to the campy remakes. I wondered how many of the Japanese reporters who made those reports will later be found to have died during the next day of tsunami alone.

Meanwhile, the entirety of our own great nation turned it's attention--if only partially--to Sendai, Japan to see a cataclysm developing that began making Katrina look more like the children's area at an American Family Water Theme Park.

Then--then, our media began telling more and more about the nuclear power situation over there, and the uninitiated here began to understand just how much Japan relies on nuclear power, what that meant to Japanese citizens already running to higher ground from the earthquakes and tsunami...and what that meant would causally develop into what has become the worst potential nuclear tragedy in world history.

In the next two days of the aftermath, I'm certain I was not alone in remembering Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Oak Ridge, and also Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I wondered in what order the Japanese would recall these nightmares, if they even had the time. But I didn't feel sick from the financial helplessness in my inability to rescue them from their natural nightmare. Instead, I felt a dead, stone-sized pit in my stomach, for the hapless Japanese people running into and around areas which were being televised on international networks to be hosting incredible scenes of still, impending doom. Explosions at one Sendai area nuclear power plant after another, that, exactly like what we knew when we saw the undersea videos from the BP disaster, categorized them as another type of immediate threat, and likely, longterm as well.

When the Fukushima nuclear power facility was seen to host an explosion large enough to be seen from such a great distance as to require a telescopic camera lens, I knew even then, that the Japanese people already scattered like mice over their countryside had another whole set of potential threats and problems.
In all the world's cultures, Japan is the only nation which has actually experienced the immediate result, and after-effects of nuclear sickness from a bombing. Regardless of the rights and wrongs during WWII, now they were going to have to go through much worse, and as a result of some kind of negligence from a company, and companies, at least partially owned by them.

It seemed the ultimate irony that their own media seemed to present to the world that it was not only possible--but still 'preferable'--to attempt some sort of orderly procession to higher ground. While Japanese people in low-lying areas were still being told via local government outdoor warning systems and media to find their ways out to areas of higher elevation, we were seeing their coastal nuclear power sites blow up like proverbial powder-kegs--and well knew, as I'm sure those in Japan who saw it, were saying to themselves 'that can't be good'.

By the time our media began hiring experts from MIT with computerized cutaway views of the Japanese nuclear sites, I also wondered how many Japanese people even knew about the developing situation, much less its implied, impending danger. Of those, I wondered how many were of age and social strata to be aware that their own government had a monetary stake in 'pre-absolving' themselves of the outdated, multi-dimensional dangers they had created by building nuclear power grids on the most consistently, disastrously active earthquake fault zone in the world. Probably hard to make life-saving decisions based on even awareness when your own government may be advising you to scramble into the very areas that house this zone.

To add injury to insult, Japan's local governments had all invested in these sites themselves, and of course, the tax money of those scrambling to their deaths.

I saw early-on that reports of '80 people' missing or dead were not indicative of what I was seeing live on TV--horrendous, overwhelming, catastrophic failure of their entire system of readiness...inadequate media reports, all waiting on official reports, which turned out to be incredibly under-stated, are pitifully sad and understated. Again, I'll compare it to watching the underwater videos of the BP oil spill, and getting that feeling that "that '100 gallons' of leakage per day looks a lot more like a million gallons to me".

For me, the kicker would come when I finally began to unravel what the CNN MIT nuke expert was saying, that not only one, but two, or possibly even more, nuclear elements had been stored here, in the form of used control pods, and, worse, not buried underground, as we had to relent and do, but basically, kept in what amounts to the attic rooms of the actual sites now seen imploding in sequence.

While I was busy watching, I hoped that many of the Japanese residents now fleeing the area would talk--or communicate, collectively, and avoid the areas in question. I hoped that higher grounds meant away from the nuclear shore in Sendai.

Here in the U.S., we know the concept of readiness.

Our national road system may not be the autobahn, but it's due to the fact that during the time they were made, President Eisenhower had them made quickly, because of Russia's ICBM threat. They were made for a quick exodus, in a time when 'if you didn't have a bomb shelter in your own suburban backyard, your crazy backwoods uncle or cousins may have', AND because--back then--Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles were too expensive, and 'Mother-Russia' simply didn't have enough to take out more than all our major cities.

The Boy Scout motto ('Be Prepared'), all military branches, and many of us, personally, know the benefits of the idea of preparedness--it amounts to a worthwhile investment in safety that almost always pays off in quality, and indeed quantity of life.

This idea has long-developed into a mindset that results in our understanding more about the benefits of safe actions collectively with each day, much less each generation.

We should be prepared for as much as we've seen, at least. We're not.

In multiple military nuclear incidents, the Challenger and Columbia Shuttle disasters, and the multiple coastal oil spills in recent years, not to mention our penchant for underestimating the dangers of all sorts of lone wolf shoot-outs at our major schools, businesses, and even military bases, we've had enough wake-up calls.

Accepting our fate isn't an option with earthquakes, though. Their inevitability is always a certainty--the only uncertainty being when, where, and how badly they'll hit. And, we've mapped out the major fault lines to the point where they are more predictable than many major weather fronts, especially tornadoes and hurricanes. They may even be more survivable, if we lend enough attention to them to make them less surprisingly disruptive.

Our preparedness has to come from a focus on redesigning our lifestyles, all the way up, from our tactics during an actual quake, to our homes and other structures.

The learning curve is hopefully quicker and easier, because of the basic physical nature of quakes. Anybody who's ever seen a drunk staggering home can see his hapless situation could have been avoided with some preventative measures--like not drinking--and even if he was already drunk, he could have done so at home instead of being out. We need to build homes that can resist quakes, and quite possibly even relocate our populations into less densely areas, especially ones that are also in such high-risk quake areas.

Since that notion isn't part of normal human nature, we need to currently play with the idea of better usages of space overall, less tolerance of vertical building, and in the meantime, focus even more attention to stronger building materials and better design ideas.

None of our buildings are anywhere near as structurally sound, certainly not as quake-resistant, as those built according to building codes in Japan. Being an island-nation comes with certain the quiet acceptance to hold the structural integrity of their architectures to a much higher level, almost by natural tendency.

Among the many commonalities we do share, though, is the fact that we have multiple nuclear power grids in an area that lies directly on the Pacific Ring of Fire. It's of course, California, which actually consists mainly upon that exact dreaded zone. Building vertically there is tantamount to playing Jenga with's going to happen, it's only a question of when.  Check out this link to our own West Coast nuclear reactors.  Now compare it to this link to a map of major California earthquakes.  Wouldn't be hard to do an overlay, if you 'get my drift'.

So, horizontally-emphasized building codes have been the 'in' thing there for decades. That--as 'Martha' always said, is a good thing. Any architect would say the same thing.

So, we should take things seriously. We should start promoting more physics competitions that give out their highest prize for projects showing new ideas to help out. We should also start thinking more 'globally' on this idea, as Americans--as anyone.

We as Americans may not see the same events unfold exactly the same way--we have a different land, with an entirely different topography, demographics, and political system, and even a different outlook--so we may smell a skunk if it ever made its way into our camp, even IF such a national catastrophe ever occurred in any place, be it a coastal population or elsewhere here. We don't even share a similarly precarious position on fault-lines, or plate-tectonics, which would determine long-term problems such as Japan will experience long after this event.

However, our preparedness is no doubt lacking.

I'll wait for the Japanese media to catch on to their governmental misdirection and deceit, but I'm not waiting to see any reporting from them exposing such. They'll more likely cry out in the streets, and quietly, almost discreetly hunker down and quietly go on to the impossible task of reporting on the rebuilding of an entire coastline, the numerous health problems that will persist for decades from now, while they resist believing their very water is tainted from the nuclear waste lost to sea and air. I won't be surprised to see some American media reporting wildlife damaged by invisible nuclear 'fallout' for years to come, and also more health problems when they eat the tuna fished there, and even some recalls if it makes it here.

Some final basic facts: Japan is smaller than CA, although surrounded by the Pacific Ridge faultline; the population of California was over 37 million in 2009; Japan's population was more than 127 million at last count.