Monday, March 28, 2011

Tracking The Extremely Bad Things

The New York Times online now has posted a running status page on conditions at each of the four damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi TEPCO nuclear plant, where the situation continues to become worse in terms of radiation levels and contamination.

You can go to the page here.

This is a crisis in slow motion; it isn't like the earthquake and tsunami, over in a few hours, leaving devastation behind -- a bit like photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which seem so eerily similar but so far away, now.

I should note that I'm not a disaster junkie; I don't perceive of this is a science-fiction situation and hang on every news report about the reactor's status. I'm interested in it because in many ways, it should not have spun as badly out of control as it has. There are reasons for that and people responsible.

It's a crisis in engineering, in global policy involving development of nuclear power in a world running out of energy, and one part of a continuing, deeply saddening human tragedy. A quarter-million people are effectively homeless in central Japan, living for the most part without complaint in makeshift shelters and with no idea what will happen to them next.

Several hundred men are trying to perform work at the Fukushima plant and exposing themselves to the kinds of hazards that only appear in our nightmares. It takes a very specific mindset, and willingness to place the good of the whole above your own safety, to do what these men are doing; giving these people a moment's thought at some point in your day wouldn't be a bad idea.



NOTE: [Not A Paid Advertisement] Today, the New York Times inaugurated its digital subscription services, offering online access packages for PC/Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones in three different combinations. Subscribers to the NYT's print version automatically receive unlimited access to the paper's online version.

You can say a lot about the Times, but there are very few newspapers left (and few news organizations, period, that aren't part of Little Rupert's bloated, distorted, fast-food media empire) with any journalistic integrity at all.

I know the NYT has occasionally made, uh, Boo-Boos (remember Little Judy Miller?) in that regard. And that the subscription business model of getting people to sign up to spend a set amount of money every month isn't as sexy and bleeding-edge as other areas in the digital Intertubeverse.

In sum, I like the Times, and am willing to put my Dog biscuits where my barking is. Take a look at what they're proposing; you want, you don't want.

Mongo Reading Paul Krugman, Or Shadow Statistics, Or 'Salon'