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You are…nowhere near here, lucky you

Lumme some maps. I follow international tragedies through maps. The reportage on the Japan earthquake/tsunami thing is more than usually fucked up, map-wise. Stuff changing names and moving all around. When they bother to name places at all.

I understand translation is difficult — especially with languages that don’t use the Roman alphabet — but couldn’t we agree on some conventions before the shit hits the fan?

Okay, well, nobody died and made me Gaia — I got these placements from eyeballing Google maps. But, near as I can figure it, this is the lay of the land.

Sendai is the biggest town in the path of destruction. Downtown is on higher ground and survived okay, but they lost their port. This is one of the places where bodies have been washing up.

Kamaishi is the setting of that amateur video of the wave; the one shot from high ground. The one shot in Kesennuma at street level is even scarier.

Reports about the damaged nukes are alllll over the place, but I’m pretty sure these are the three we’ve been hearing about. Of these three, the bottom one is of most concern (which is called either Fukushima II or III, so I went with Fukushima Daini. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds all Japanese and shit. Babelfish says it means “Daini”).

Despite the all the spectacular images and news overload, the devastation is confined along this fairly small portion of the Japanese coastline. The quake was huge, but the tsunami did the damage.

Still, this would be an pretty good time for Gamera to turn up.


Comment from JeffS
Time: March 14, 2011, 11:25 pm

I wouldn’t worry about using the Calibrated Eyeball, Mark I, to place the icons. I read that the quake moved Japan 2.4 meters to the west, so all of the maps are wrong anywho.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 14, 2011, 11:25 pm


Comment from MikeW
Time: March 14, 2011, 11:27 pm

Yet another stunning video:
This one from Miyako and Kamaishi. Even Gamera couldn’t splash the harbor bathtub like this.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 14, 2011, 11:54 pm

I really hate what is going on in Japan. I’ve been there several times, and I always thought that Japan was a nice place. Xenophobic, but nice to visit.

I realize that they will rebuild from this stronger than before, but watching it still leaves a ball of lead in the pit of my stomach…. ๐Ÿ™

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:07 am


1 – Scroll to the top of the page so the image is centered in your screen

2 – Press and hold F4

3 – Go directly to Hell for laughing once you figure it out.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:23 am

Okay, what’m I missing? Was there supposed to be a link there or something, Scott?

Scoob, I never really thought about the Japan outside of Tokyo until I started buying Miyazaki films. Terrible to get your sense of a culture from cartoons, but there you go.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:26 am

Weasel, when you hold F4, what happens to the screen? More specifically, what happens to the image?

Comment from Skandi Recluse
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:43 am

Fukushima Daiichi had three reactors in operation, three other reactors shut down for maintenance. Numbers, 1,2,3, at that site have all had their building roofs blown off from accumulated hydrogen, reactors all thought to be intact. These three reactors will ‘probably’ have core damage. How much they can’t tell until they can get inside and look.

Fukushima Daini had four reactors in operation, and it seems that all four where shut down without loss of control. They didn’t lose their back up generators. (It seems.)

Media reporting on this has been terrible, confusing, lots of stuff missing or inaccurate.

Things should start to calm down now. Only question is how much radiation was released. Most reports seem to say, minimal low level radiation.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:56 am

Nothing happens, Scott. Are you talking about Japan, or the animated weasel?

Yeah, it’s been terribly confusing, Skandi. Even when you’re trying to pay attention and keep it straight.

Plus, agendas. They all have them.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: March 15, 2011, 1:11 am


When you hold F4, your bookmarks menu opens and closes, shifting the image left and right…

Oh never mind…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 15, 2011, 1:26 am

Hahaha…oh, dear. F4 doesn’t do that on my browser, but I can picture the effect.

Comment from Nina
Time: March 15, 2011, 1:35 am

Mon Oncle is a retired GE nuke power engineer who has worked on those plants since they were being built. He’s been keeping the fam updated on what’s going on there, which has been nice. I don’t know anyone there, but he does, and they’re all fine, although the power plant and their homes are destroyed. The one variable they hadn’t prepared adequately for was the tsunami, until they started to hit all the automatic emergency procedures were doing fine. The waves put the diesel generators and pumps out of business and it’s gone downhill from there.


Comment from Grizzly
Time: March 15, 2011, 2:06 am

As a scientist (though not a nuke), the coverage of the nuke thing really bothers me. I’ve seen some respectable attempts by people-with-the-right-kind-of experience to comment on it, but the problem is no one has enough information to draw a really complete conclusion. Events are unfolding way too fast and are unfortunately being reported by people (journos, mostly) who have no frickin’ idea what they’re talking about. Don’t even get me started on agendas, Stoaty….

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: March 15, 2011, 3:06 am

The incidents are being handled by people who are too busy stomping rats to stand around answering inane questions from a blow-dried talking head. The only people with time to talk to reporters are the ones who don’t know what’s going on, because if they did know what was going on they’d get drafted into the rat-stomping effort. The reporters are people who can ride at 10,000 meters altitude for fourteen hours, have a banana as a snack, then put real urgency into the Radiation Scare oshitodear without the least sense of irony. Assume that everything you hear or see in the media is as told by people who aren’t really involved to people who don’t know what they’re talking about.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 15, 2011, 3:13 am


Good article on the hype over the nuclear crisis in Japan, and the media exploitation of same….

Comment from AuntyAgatha
Time: March 15, 2011, 3:25 am

I can’t wait to see GE getting sued for providing faulty designed reactors to Japan.
Currently there are 4 reactors in melt down, and a fuel rod fire.
MOX plutonium fuel is lethal.

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 15, 2011, 3:28 am

Americans now make dodgier reactors than the Russians!

Those General Electric reactors are exploding like pop corn kernals. And just think, there are more of these faulty reactors all over the USA …

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: March 15, 2011, 4:17 am

Oceania, please tell me that you’re being sarcastic…

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 15, 2011, 4:40 am

Me? I’m never sarcastic.

Dose rates in the reactor complex are now 350-720 milliSieverts an hour. The neutron component was not mentioned, but I would suspect as there is now multiple core breaches and molten spent fuel rods everywhere you can safely multiple the gamma reading by 20 to estimate neutron dose.

Unconfirmed reports of a dose rate of 800-1200 microSieverts an hour over 40 kilometers from the plant from fallout.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 15, 2011, 4:45 am

OK Oceania. Source please. (of the info. Do NOT invite source to come over here and post, please…)

Oceania is another Pravda/Cornfield Denizen, but there IS some hope for him….

Comment from Mike C.
Time: March 15, 2011, 7:34 am

Science/technical reporting in the popular media is generally not worth the electrons required to move it out, and this whole mess is no exception. Not a nuke person, but some of the crap I’ve seen regarding the quake and tsunami is simply pathetic. These folks may all have Journolista MAs from Columbia, but it’s obvios that none of them took a high school earth sciences class, much less anything more.

I spot this sort of crap almost every time a story touches on something I know even a little bit about. Which makes me extremely skeptical when I’m reading ANY story.

And as God is my witness, the next time I read a story that refers to certain kinds of hydrocarbon well completions as “fracking,”, I am going to hunt down the reporter and subject them to a slow and painful death.

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: March 15, 2011, 7:40 am

We’re all gonna die!!!

Oh wait, we are all gonna die. Eventually, from a variety of immediate causes…

…ummm, never mind.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: March 15, 2011, 7:46 am

Mike, I hear that FRAKKING is a favorite term at MSNBC….


Comment from Oceania
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:04 am

Well Scube nice to see that you are still asking for sources.
As an ex nukeworker you shouldn’t have to ask, however it was from Her Majestys Royal New Zealand Navy no less.

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:09 am

Actually Scube, it was joked over 10 years ago that these reactors were death traps waiting to happen … and the single point of failure was the need for pump supply coolant.

So why does GE still push the propaganda? Why did GE cover up this information for decades?
I can smell MOX Pu on the wind … and as I type this diplomatic personnel are evacuating Tokyo missions.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:21 am

Sorry, Oceania/Flashheart… I was never a Nuke Worker, I was a Chemical/Biological/Radiological warfare response team lead on the USS Wadsworth. Wadsworth was Jet Turbine, not a nuke…

And that was almost 19 years ago…

Comment from VotedNader
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:29 am

I’m placing my bets on nothing too serious coming of this affair.

And I agree, Scube: We don’t need Source here.

/ Hi, Oceania! Ya fruit bat!

Comment from Bill (back from Iraq until I go back to Iraq) T
Time: March 15, 2011, 11:44 am

Mizz Weaze, if the Japanese word for “two” is still “ni,” then Fukushima Daini would be Fukushima II — that is, unless the quake shifted the language, too.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: March 15, 2011, 11:46 am


Do you understand what the reactor went through during the quake? At the time of the quake it experienced the equivalent of about 474 megatons of TNT. That’s almost 10 times more powerful than the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated and and at LEAST an order of magnitude more powerful than the sites were designed for…

And yet they suffered no real damage from the quake. Containment wasn’t breached, and they remained functional. It was the wall of water moving at speeds close to that of a jetliner that knocked out local power and primary backup power generation, which lead to the coolant pumps shutting down after battery backups died after 8 hours.

As it stands, radiation that’s been released is around 11x more than a day at the beach (the “high levels of contamination” those US ships moved to avoid was about the same as 6 months living in a brick house).

Here’s a blog that has several posts about the radiation levels in Japan from a guy who works in the field: http://wormme.com/

Comment from Clifford Scridlow
Time: March 15, 2011, 12:52 pm

Welcome home Bill. We were gettin’ worried about ya’

Comment from MikeW
Time: March 15, 2011, 2:56 pm

Here’s the best writeup about the Fukushima accident that I’ve been able to find. It explains well the structure of the reactors and the risks involved.
When the news refers to ‘radiation releases’ I wish they would indicate which types of radioactive elements are in the release because different ones mean completely different things about what’s going wrong at that moment and about what the repercussions are of the release.

Comment from The Dread Pirate Neck Beard
Time: March 15, 2011, 3:12 pm

Ja, it’s something like “ich, ni, san, sa” (which is all I remember from watching a bunch of guys practice aikido at the Korean dojang I learned from).

Comment from Bill (back from Iraq until I go back to Iraq) T
Time: March 15, 2011, 5:46 pm

Thanks, Cliff, but only the good die young.

I’ll prob’ly outlive Methuselah…

Comment from Allen
Time: March 15, 2011, 5:51 pm

Big Two? (Dai ni) and Dai ichi would be Big One.

Anywho, years ago I spent a lot of time in Japan. One summer I had a Japan Railpass that allows you to travel on any public transportation. Included in public transportation are bicycles in the more remote areas. I was up north of Sendai careening around these small towns on an undersized bicycle. Now they don’t see too many Gaijin in the more rural areas, so here’s this big doof of a westerner, me, pedaling like a madman around their villages. Small school children would actually cry and run and hide when they spotted me.

I have very fond memories of that part of Japan. To think some of those towns are completely gone.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: March 15, 2011, 6:17 pm

A little perspective on the nuclear reactor situation.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: March 15, 2011, 6:34 pm

I spent the weekend drinking with a Nuclear Physicist. He wasn’t too worried about this.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 15, 2011, 7:00 pm

I’m reflexively pro-nuclear energy, so I’m not even trusting my own opinion on this at the moment. Much as I generally value my own opinion.

Comment from Tom
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:05 pm

Different “Dai”, Allen. Daiichi means “number 1” and Daini means “number 2”. Thus, the plants are “Fukushima #1” and “Fukushima #2”, not “big 1” or “big 2”.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: March 15, 2011, 8:50 pm

I hate to say it, but we aren’t REALLY going to get any good information about this until well after the fact. When the official after-action report is released in about 10 years, we may finally see what really occured.

Comment from Spad13
Time: March 16, 2011, 12:44 am

BillT glad to hear your back. If your ever in the Philadelphia area shoot me an e-mail. Drinks are on me.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: March 16, 2011, 3:59 am

Allen (and everyone else): check out Gaijin Chronicles. It’s the diary of an American living in Japan for the last several years. He’s a 6′ 2″ 190lb black dude, so he sometimes gets the reaction you got in those small towns.

He hasn’t posted much lately (new baby daughter), but ramble through his archives; there is some of the funniest stuff I have ever read there.

Comment from Oceania
Time: March 16, 2011, 11:50 am

Well just been reading one area 80 km north of Tokyo is currently 300 milliSieverts an hour.

That’s no microSieverts boys and girls … milliSieverts

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: March 21, 2011, 9:10 pm

Welcome back, Bill!!
I tend to not trust almost everything I read in the mainstream news. I think they really just want to see everyone running is circles, screaming “We’re gonna die, we’re all gonna die….”

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