Thursday, June 30, 2011


"TEPCO has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the nation of Japan: cronyism, collusion, gentrification, corruption, weak regulation, and entropy. Despite being in the spotlight for the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, TEPCO continues to engage in questionable labor practices, and has escaped bankruptcy in closed-door meetings with politicians, and through denying culpability has shifted part of the reparations burden onto taxpayers – deeds which testify to the extent to which TEPCO still has plenty of political power, if not as much nuclear power." 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

THEY LIED TO US - Michio Kaku

via reddit

Thursday, June 23, 2011


"It's the only way to secure a stable supply of environmentally clean electricity at a relatively low cost," Mori, who also heads the Kansai Economic Federation, the biggest business lobby in western Japan, said last week in an interview in Osaka. "Nuclear power should keep its current status." No agendas there...

That current status includes Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Monju, Fukushima, among others; nuclear statuses tend to last a while. Anyone who had a resume like that would never get a job. But what do we misled and newswinked members of the public really know about this complex subject? If what you say is true, though, Chairman Mori, why not build your next big reactor right in the center of Tokyo? And one in Osaka! Every large city in Japan should have the safety of radioactive warmth at its heart! You could make use of the rivers! Apart from all the macrosieverts of stability that would radiate outward, this would yield tremendous cost reductions by eliminating electricity loss via distant transmission! And in the gentle embrace of nuclear power's radiant cleanliness you could have kindergartens right beside the containment vessels-- with playgrounds, neighborhoods, restaurants all around! Food gardens! You could even eat the fish!

Rumor has it that Chairman Mori plans to move to Fukushima with his family, unto the seventh generation, to be as close to the reactors as permissible - outside the expensive and toxic forced evacuation area - to reside among his aggrieved customers amidst the glowing ambience of radioactive safety and prove to the world how environmentally clean and how stable is nuclear power.

Any word on that moving date, Mr. Mori?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Yesterday morning after getting some beans etc. from the garden, since I'd be coming back again later to plant some things I closed the upper portion of the gate - which is all netting anyway (like the entire fence) so it keeps ground creatures out merely by the troublesome look of it - I then went inside and was up in the loft wrestling with some powerful editing concepts when Echo, downstairs in the kitchen, shouted "The Baron is in your garden." Not THE garden, but YOUR garden. Impossible, I thought. The noble beast couldn't spot, let alone get through, that tiny hole among all those holes.

Nevertheless I went downstairs, just to humor Echo's endearing (note explicit avoidance of nearly irresistible pun) hallucination, and there I saw out the big kitchen window not the expected absence, but the undeniable presence, of a large and fully antlered male deer in MY garden. Fortunately, the beast had just gotten in (how?) and was sampling only some weeds near the entrance - rich lush weeds, compared to his well-used dining area outside the fence.

The last time I'd forgotten the gate at the end of a gardening day, the Baron had come in the night to partake of his royal pantry and had dined on some weeds and spinach, with strawberry leaves for dessert, then left quietly by the same fully open way. This time, though, there had been but a tiny way in; would he find it instantly when panicked in broad daylight? I couldn't just walk out there and open the gate for him; if he freaked, I'd have a powerful horned creature tangled up tightly, perhaps together with myself, in one or more of the walls of my ruined garden fence and would have to call some wildlife authorities to get him/us out of there.

On the other hand, I wasn’t about to let a savage ruminant wander my garden at will, so I opened the door to the deck and stepped slowly outside, about 20 meters from him. He saw me at once, and dashed straight away to freedo... No. Not that way. He saw me, still there, folding my arms - though I doubt that deer sense umbrage - and dashed over that way to free... No again. He ran this way then that then this again, through my peppers, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, spinach, new radishes, baby cucumbers, goya, sunflowers... much wincing was exercised. But he could not find the way out.

Back and forth he ran, more and more casually, looking for his exit while I just stood there, quietly reminding him by my inaction that he should get out, but could take his time. He seemed to be trying to gather whatever passes for deer thoughts, then finally went back to that corner and paused, head lowered...there was a memory there... pushed forward and an entire huge antlered body slipped out through a tiny hole in the bottom of the fence. He was a cervid Houdini. Taking no bows, he whitetailed it upmountain.

When I went out to view all the damage he must have done, and to CLOSE THE #%&$#* GATE, I found that despite all that running around he hadn't done any damage! The only changes were one slightly tilted potato plant and one deep hoofprint in the pepper bed. Oh, and some weeds near the gate were a lot shorter, but I'd been meaning to do that myself on a larger scale as soon as the rain stopped.

Thanks for the head start, Baron.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Some of the trees up here been playing havoc with our way of life, and folks 'round these parts won't stand for it, nosir.

For example there's the big chunk of incipient firewood from the gargantuoak a few hundred meters above here whose monstrous branch was lowverhanging the road and was cut down a couple of months ago before it could crush somebody, its superbulk then being rolled over the roadside edge into the bamboo and down toward the stream before the cutters knew that I was a firewood type person and would want it, so later I found out it was ok for me to take it away, but now I'll have to stand on that steep slope as if beside a nervous elephant and chainsaw the mass into half-meter segments weighing about 300 k each that I'll have to stay out of the way of, then have to split and quarter in situ so as to render them liftable to the road above. Love those kinds of tasks...

After that I can tackle the big oak on a transverse road thereabove that the recent hurricane blew over onto some power wires, causing a multihour blackout up there until the power company cut it down in big sections and shoved it into the woods where it now belongs to me but I won't get to that for a week or two beyond the first cache, though whats the hurry, since no way will it ever be dry in time to use this winter, even with the impossible miracle of constant sunlight during the rainy season plus the worst of global warming. It's warmth for the winter of 2012-13, if we're still here then, given the ongoing govern/mental revelations of Fukushima, but even so I'm going to try to leave the split wood out in the sunniest, breeziest place...

Then I'll have Azuma-san fell those three big crowdy oaks that our upmountain neighbor girded because they need the sunlight on their house, so when that's done I should have enough firewood to last until the world economy has successfully collapsed and everyone has gotten used to bottom line frugality so we can hopefully move on to essential changes.

We do live in interesting times, do we not...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Three months. Hard work. Together. What’s new? We’ve done it this way before...

BTW: As to the sudden dearth in detailed US coverage of the aftermath of this world-altering event:  “The Fukushima reactors (Mark I) were built* by General Electric, which also owns Comcast, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC, so the absence of timely information is not surprising.
*(Designed, actually; built by Japanese companies, though GE supplied the reactors for units 1, 2 and 6.)

Friday, June 10, 2011


On Wednesday afternoon I took the beach-hungry beasties to our favorite secret beach, called by us Little Pine Beach, where on that ultrafine calm blue feather-clouded day the four of us got out of the car at the end of the long narrow road to the sand and water about a hundred meters or so away. When I turned around after getting my bag from the trunk, there in the far distance, arms raised in glee, were three tiny silhouettes already screamsplashing into the calm water...

I headed at a slow pace along the hundred meters or so to the beach, and when I was almost there remembered the beach mat in the trunk so turned and walked the hundred meters or so back to the car, got the mat and walked the hundred meters or so back to the beach where I realized that since school was in session, the season does not begin for about another month and there WAS NOBODY ELSE THERE WE HAD THE ENTIRE BEACH TO OURSELVES!

As I spread the mat amidst the joy I couldn't help but notice that beneath the many little pines were strewn about seven million pine cones, perfectly seasoned for starting fires in a woodstove, and there's only one household I know of around here that has any such need for pine cones. Everybody else uses nuclear power. Even better, these were free pine cones, with no meltdown.

But no way would (or could) I ask the girls out of the water when the swimming was perfect, even to gather also perfect pine cones just lying there waiting to be claimed by this lucky winner of the Pine Cone Lottery. No questions from the press, please. So I alone jumped right on the pine cones, but I only had my small back pack and a little plastic bag of the kind they make that holds maybe two pine cones, go figure. And it would rain before I could get back here on the weekend... What's that old saying about Lord, thy pine cone-covered beach is so vast etc.--

So I walked the hundred meters or so back to the car and was lucky to find some large plastic bags that we sometimes have in the car for wild vegs, fruits and herbs, walked the hundred or so meters back to the beach and commenced harvesting pine cones by ones twos and threes in the mango gold of the late afternoon as the girls splashed in the shallows and a powerboat roared aimlessly back and forth offshore, playing music of the kind that requires volume to offset some central emptiness, the roarers seeking in the midst of nature's beauty to somehow drown out her insistent presence in a dull version of fun that seeks distraction from what it will not see and does not want to understand. Unlike the girls, who in their bigger world were fashioning beach toys and houses from bamboo and sandpiles, having deep fun with water and earth-- no boat, no motor, no fuel, no blasting along the surface, no costly layers of separation from what is, bottom line, the ancient part of ourselves.

And so as the girls played in all that majesty I bent to my task about 500 times, wandering not bent/bent/not bent/bent along the shore beneath the pines, gathering only the finest cones - one becomes a pine cone gourmet of sorts after a few years - strewn there by the hurricane of a few days ago and normally soon raked away and burned by the beachkeepers, but the season hasn't begun so I was doing them something of a favor, and I must say I haven't seen such a fine crop of pine cones in all my years here, they were that golden amber of the fresh unweathered kind-- I got 8 big bulging bags full.

Later, after a cooling loll on the shady sand, as it approached time to leave - me wearing my white hemp pants, orange NYC t-shirt under white shirt w/long sleeves rolled and straw cowboy hat with the silver concho on the front - I gathered up three big bulging bags of pinecones in each hand and headed back the hundred meters or so to the car through the narrow alley. On the way, I passed three young Japanese males heading for the beach, who, upon beholding way out here in the middle of nowhere - japanopublicly speaking - a tall, long-white-haired elder gaijin striding along in white pants, white shirt, orange NYC tee and conchoed straw cowboy hat, carrying... three big bags full of pine cones in each hand... it changed their worldview somewhat.

When I walked back the hundred yards or so to the beach to get the other bags of pine cones and carry them the hundred yards or so back to the car before coming back the hundred yards or so to the beach to gather up the girls and their stuff and walk the hundred yards or so back to the car to head home, I saw the young men still standing there on the sunset beach like the enigma in a De Chirico painting with some loud rap music drifting over the water, puzzled to have come to a long beautiful beach empty but for three little girls, and additionally puzzled at major pine cone haulage by a strange foreigner from NYC... It was an odd day, I could sense them concluding at their unsought insight into the inspirational sources of the surrealists. It got even more surreal when I took the three little girls away with me.

Life can get interesting on Little Pine Beach.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Japan doubles initial estimate of nuclear radiation

A great many suspected the truth all along, but not Tesco and the government. In the light of their sudden wisdom, the authorities also pledged to make the country's nuclear regulator (Nisa) independent of the industry ministry, which, as it happens - who could have noticed - also promotes nuclear power. That should have been a no-brainer back then, when brains were as abundant as they are today. Wonder what they used instead... 


Fukushima nuclear plant may have suffered 'melt-through', Japan admits

Fuel rods have probably breached containment vessels – 

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Around 11 this morning I was working up in the loft while girlsitting for the grandies when from downstairs I heard a wsssh! wsssh! wsssh! sound that reminded me a lot of a spray bottle being sprayed all over the place, which, were it so, would mean whatever liquid all over the oak floor of the living room, the woodstove, the windows-- the sight in my minds eye was not a pleasant one, so I rushed over to the loft railing, ready to tell one of the Krew to stop spraying whatever hopefully merely water-based solution was in whatever the container was, but as usual when it comes to my mind’s eye vs. the Krew’s reality control, I was way off.

Down below I saw Kaya hunched over on the floor with a small yellow whisk broom and dust pan, going along whisking up the corpses of dead ants (a tale for perhaps another time), the wssshy broom sound conjuring the spray bottle of my mind, while beside Kaya, observing this detailed procedure and bouncing up and down while seated on the big red yoga ball, was Mitsuki, wearing a Groucho mask.

No surprise there actually, they're all a bit theatrical. I took a picture for those who might doubt such surreal tales of rural grandfatherhood in another land. Amidst the spray bottles of mere imagining I am slowly adapting to the big red bouncing ball of Groucho-masked surreality that is grandies growing.

After lunch, for a change of pace we all went up into the forest, maskless and without the big red ball, to clean the stream and then wade our way back home to build a house for the panda. All in a galactic day's work.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Not that I pondered the possibility all that much in my earlier years, but I never thought I'd actually ask anyone in all seriousness: "What does this banana say?"

Friday, June 03, 2011


With a wedge of purple protein... Looks like about 2000+ calories... This is not the old US food pyramid, it's the new US food plate! Filled to the brim with a red fruit wedge, a green veg wedge, a beige grains wedge and a ... purple ... protein wedge. Name me a purple protein. No knife, spoon, napkin or drink... unless the Dairy disc is a glass of blue milk... Could be blue yogurt, blue ice cream or ... bleu cheese?

Looks like the dairy lobby still has some clout, though it's no longer in the inner circle... The meat lobby lost out big time on this one, merged into not a RED MEAT wedge (that would anyway conflict with the red fruit wedge) but a mysteriously purple protein wedge... (eggplant?), which would include legumes, nuts, eggs etc., plus purple meat (for all you manly guys afraid of soybeans and tofu)... But purple protein on a blue (or chartreuse?) placemat?

As for me, I try to avoid government restaurants...

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I'd like to think that this little ramen ramble of mine, posted on these ethereal pages so long ago, played some small part in the "Ramen Renaissance" now sweeping America's vibrant places, as per the link following...


If you're under 100 years of age and are interested at all in food, especially the finest oriental cuisine, then you probably saw the Japanese movie Tampopo, and if you saw Tampopo you know what it means to get a ramen craving, like you did after the movie.

As to the ideal venue for craving ramen, Japan is the Ramen Empire. The ideal ramen emporium (forget about making ramen at home; do you make truffles at home?) is the epitome of the greasy chopstick. One of my ramen parameters says that if the counters sparkle, the waitresses are radiant and you can see clearly out the windows, seek thy ramen elsewhere..

Whenever I've moved to a new neighborhood in Japan, one of my first priorities has always been to find the best ramen shop within a half-hour's walk (some urgencies are more pressing than others), which isn't easy, there are so many flashy imposters attempting to cash in on the rep of the one true noodle nirvana to be found in any town.

In such a quest, the best person to ask is a local college student if you can find one, because ramen may be excellent brain food, but it's also low in price. And the difference between run-of-the-mill ramen and ramen for the gods is about the same as the difference between here and heaven, which is reason enough to go looking.

For example, I right away found the best ramenya in this country neighborhood - it may even have an edge over the one I used to go to in Kyoto - but if you think I'm going to give you the name of either, you're out of luck; they're too crowded as it is. The one I go to now still has those sort of naugahyde seats and smeary plastic chandeliers, with greasy red pepper and garlic paste jars with long-handled spoons in them. Their tonkotsu is perfection, I always get the chashu (from the Chinese for 'roasted pork'; once you've found perfection, why change), in which the pork, roasted to near disappearance, is sliced even nearer disappearance until it's little more than a fragrant rumor residing atop the chewy deliciousness of the noodles swirling in the tonkotsu, with some garlic paste just here and some red pepper paste over here...

Back later, I'm going out to get some ramen. Tonkotsu chashu, kudasai... 
--PLM, Feb. 2003

"Ramen is its own culture in Japan, with noodle shops that have rabid fan bases and their chefs drawing crowds waiting two hours in line when a new shop opens. It even has a distinct genre of books and movies dedicated to its lore."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Fukushima school limit: 1 millisievert

"The education ministry said Friday it has set a new nonbinding target to reduce radiation exposure of Fukushima Prefecture students while they are at school to 1 millisievert or less a year."


Parent anger plays role in Japan's reversal of raised radiation limits at schools

"In the playground, in the sandbox, children put dirt into their mouths! They breathe in the dust! You should do the same! Lick the dirt!" she shouted to applause. "You wouldn't do this to your own kids!"

TEPCO's Flip-Flops Increase Confusion at Fukushima

“In a series of stunning flip-flops, officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have reversed themselves on several important statements made recently.”


Radiation-linked cancer an intangible numbers game

“With contaminated produce continuing to be detected beyond Fukushima Prefecture, public concern over the health effects of radiation exposure continues to mount.
Experts agree that exposure to more than 100 millisieverts in total increases the risk of cancer. However, scientists have yet to achieve consensus about the degree of risk of contracting cancer below that level.”

Fukushima Risks Chernobyl ‘Dead Zone’ as Radiation Soars

“Soil samples in areas outside the 20-kilometer (12 miles) exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant measured more than 1.48 million becquerels a square meter, the standard used for evacuating residents after the Chernobyl accident...”


In Japan, a Culture That Promotes Nuclear Dependency

“When the Shimane nuclear plant was first proposed here more than 40 years ago, this rural port town put up such fierce resistance that the plant’s would-be operator, Chugoku Electric, almost scrapped the project. Angry fishermen vowed to defend areas where they had fished and harvested seaweed for generations.”


Minister: Germany to go nuke free by 2022