mbarker: (Me typing?)
This morning the news had a short piece about a group doing their practice emergency drone flights. I missed the location, but this is an area that has had some kind of major disaster in the recent past. The guy was showing us pictures from that -- looked like a flood or mudslide, might have been an avalanche? And he was explaining that one of the problems they had then was just finding where the people were who needed help.

Which is what today's practice was all about. If I understood correctly, this is a volunteer drone squad, and they were practicing the three kinds of drone flights they have developed for emergencies. First, location -- using cameras, including IR cameras, they fly over an area and identify people waving, bodies, and so forth. So they can quickly direct emergency aid to where it is needed. Second, communications! They have drones with speakers, so they can fly over an area and make emergency announcements. Third, supplies. They have drones that can carry at least small medical packs and supplies, so they can deliver those even where emergency vehicles or other aid can't get in.

So, in the event of an emergency, look, up in the sky? Is it a bird, is a plane, is it Superman? No, it's the emergency drones! Looking at you, talking to you, even bringing you the supplies you need.
mbarker: (Default)

I think I'm missing something. One of the news items we have recently had here in Japan concerns a young couple and their child. They apparently went to the government, trying to get the child added to their family record, as is customary here. That's where the trouble started. Apparently the government so far is arguing that they cannot register this child as theirs.

The problem, of course, is that one of the two is a surgically altered woman, not a natural man. The sperm for the child was either donated or something, and no one is arguing that the child should be registered to someone else. Nor are people complaining that they can't be married, apparently. But... The idea that a child who is not actually a direct genetic offspring should be listed in their family record apparently is too much.

I keep asking what happens when someone adopts a child, or whether anyone really believes that every child in the history of Japan has definitely been the genetic offspring of the couple who claimed him. So far, all my friends agree that sometimes the genetic father of a child and the father listed in the family records may not be the same, but...

For some reason, the idea of letting this couple claim a child as theirs if the sperm came from somewhere else seems to really bother people. Even though it seems to fit either the adoption scenario or the other man scenario.

Maybe they shouldn't have been so honest about what they were doing? I mean, I'll bet the people filing the forms wouldn't have noticed if they had just filled them in and handed them over without mentioning the little difference in this couple from any other couple wandering into city hall.

Is DNA really thicker than ink?

mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Okay, now that's amusing. I may not have the figures exactly right, but basically...from the news last night.

One of the small towns here in Japan hit by the earthquake and tsunami last year has carefully converted a lot of the trash into a pile of woodchips, ready for slow burning. Let's be honest, it was more like a small hill of woodchips. They understood that it would take a while to truck and burn, but at least they were ready for the next step of clean up.

However, someone got nervous, and insisted that they measure the pile for radiation. This is well outside the area of the Fukushima contamination, but... what the heck, right?

Well, the pile showed about 64 becquerel per kilogram! And suddenly, the truckers, the trash burners, everyone said "No, no, we can't handle this."

The town people were puzzled, and then they did something smart. They got someone to do the same measurements on woodchips from a number of normal sources, just the kind of stuff that is going into the burners every day.

The result? Normal levels averaged 70 becquerel per kilogram, higher than their woodchips.

Apparently the town is going to be able to dispose of their woodchips after all.

I think it's amusing. A measurement without a baseline... I have to remember that for the next time I'm teaching research methods.
mbarker: (Default)
Do you know where your cell phone has been?

Or who else knows?

The lead-in for a news piece this morning bothers me.

It was really simple. It started with a woman with a cell phone in her hands saying, "Oh, he forgot his phone." Then she tapped on the phone, and followed the path that it showed her... To where a man was embracing another woman!
background... )
But there's something about saying that we need to protect our privacy so that we can cheat on each other... Are you sure that's the argument you want to make?

On the other hand, I've been trying to figure out a good example for not wanting anyone to know where you are -- or were you have been -- and it's surprisingly difficult.

What do you think? Is your location a secret? Would it bother you to know that someone else can find out where you are?
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
I'm not sure how much of this made it to American news. This last weekend, Japan got clobbered. Typhoon number 12 rolled over most of Japan at a slow, deliberate pace, which meant we had heavy rains for extended periods of time. Today's news is full of video of towns and villages that have been flooded, overrun by mudslides, and so forth. Plenty of roads have had bridges destroyed, sections undercut and falling, or rock and mudslides. Add in trees that fell over and the other normal hazards of heavy weather, and it's a mess.
lesser details )
Oh, well. Today, here in the Kansai area, it's a beautiful fall day, lovely blue sky, a few fluffy white clouds slowly drifting. I think Hokkaido is still catching the last tail end, but mostly the rains have passed. Now it's time to dry off and dig out from under again.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
One of the news items today here in Japan was rather sad. Apparently a young man died because the rest of the group he was with teased him into jumping or diving. 8 meters (roughly 24 feet) into water that was roughly 4 meters deep. I'm not sure from the news report whether he hit the side going down or simply didn't know how to dive. This was not a diving spot, really. Just a high stone wall along a river bank, with a deep spot below.

The news made it fairly plain that he apparently didn't want to do this, but the other eight people that he was out with made fun of him until he jumped. I suspect most of them are now wondering why it was so important to get him to jump. It wasn't clear from the news whether others in the group also were diving or not. Doesn't really matter, of course.

I have to admit when I first heard the news I expected that he would be a teenager or perhaps college-age. However, he was 33 years old. I guess his mother hadn't spent enough time telling him, "It doesn't matter if everyone else is being stupid, you don't have to."
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
First, like many cities, Osaka has some sculpture out on the roadways. In particular, there are some dancing young women on the sidewalk downtown. Just sort of cheerful random art.

However, this morning's puzzling news is that someone apparently put red dresses on these women sometime last wee. The picture I saw wasn't very clear -- I think they may have been paper -- but the question is who did it and what does it mean? Actually, apparently no one is too interested in who did it. There's just a puzzlement as to what is it supposed to mean.

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/07/27/osaka-mystery-lady-sculptures-in-red/ has more about it, including pictures! Apparently the dresses were cloth.

I guess someone was bored one night. And decided putting clothes on the statues was something to do?

I wonder if anyone will note the irony of public officials undressing the statues right out there in public?
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
The news people get various questions, and often answer them. But the weather reporters rarely get questions. However, this morning, they had a question from a viewer! The question was simple: why do we sometimes have rainfall in the sun?
Why does rain fall with sunshine? )
Something to ponder!
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
More Odds and Ends from the Japanese News

5/11 two months afterwards. The number of dead and missing stands at 24,834.

I think this may have unexpected results. Apparently the normal system where wholesalers buy the fish from the fisherman at the port, ship it elsewhere in Japan, then sell it to retailers, who in turn sell it to the consumers has pretty much broken down as far as the Tohoku area is concerned. Retailers, wholesalers, shipping -- they all say that consumers are worried about radioactivity or something, and they just aren't buying.

However, one of the younger fisherman decided that if they didn't want to buy his fish, he'd put the whole thing on his webpage and run his own auction. Then he'd ship the fish using the normal delivery service in Japan, which is running again. And... he's doing quite well. Apparently various people in Japan like being able to watch the process and bid on the fish directly, without several layers of distribution in the middle. If I understood right, the young fisherman said he was getting more money this way than he would normally. I wonder if he'll go back to the normal process even when it gets started again. Or will he keep selling his fish directly to consumers?

There's also a report of one of the oyster farmers who pretty much lost their farms -- large rafts with strings of oysters hanging down. The tsunami destroyed these. This particular farmer is offering a chance to invest in his business -- buy one rope for about $100. I think he's looking for capital to rebuild, and the idea is that if you invest that much, you'll get part of the harvest from that rope.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
4/22

The quake yesterday apparently dropped some suspended ceilings. The news people are trying to explain that a long wave flex affects some different things. Anyway, a ceiling fell in a symphony hall during a performance. Someone caught probably on a cell phone video of people in suits jumping on to the fallen ceiling materials and pulling it away. I think there were two dead. A swimming pool also lost its ceiling. Some other damage here and there.
this and that )
Oh, and there was a piece about the SDF troops. There's about 20,000 people out there. They're sleeping four to a tent. Eating field rations (which they showed -- canned stuff for lunch! I don't think I've ever seen canned rice before. They do get fresh rice, miso soup, and grilled fish for dinner, apparently.) Apparently they are under orders to not eat in sight of the civilians, so they are eating in trucks, tents, or otherwise. Washing... not so often, apparently. Large plastic bath, and once every 3 to 4 days. I gather that at least one of the higher ups is grousing about not normally sending the troups into this kind of situation for this long -- it's been quite a while. And if the reporter had it right, they are still in fast deployment housing and food.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Very hit or miss collection of odds and ends from the Japanese news. Several stations, including the national station, now have regular earthquake news times blocked out. However, I don't watch everything, I don't take notes on everything, and I've got other things going on. So, don't expect this to be comprehensive or particularly representative -- it's just things that caught my attention and I made a note about them. And sorry about the length -- I didn't get around to writing them up until today.
this and that )
It's going to be interesting to see how the children who have been through this grow up. I mean, when your home, family, relatives, friends disappear and shift so dramatically, what do you think about it? Many of them seem quite cheerful, but then there's the child psychologist warning about PTSD symptoms.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
4/14

Hum. That's got to be grim. There is a town about 7 kilometers from the Fukushima reactors which has not been cleaned up or searched since the evacuation.
catching up... )
Really odds and ends this time.
mbarker: (Default)
4/11

There were several pieces about memorial services held in different areas of the disaster. Mostly, at 2:46, people stood up, bowed their heads, and quietly remembered the last month.
remembering, and looking forward )
Watching the news here right now is such a hodgepodge. There's a piece about the disaster area, health concerns, etc. There's stuff about the reactors and the area around them. There's pieces about concerns in Tokyo, people washing their baby in one bottle of mineral water, vegetable prices skyrocketing, etc. And then there's news from Kyoto about the cherry blossoms and night lighting in case you want to visit at night. And reports of the worldwide support for northern Japan, even while the nuclear plant is drawing protests? Ah well. Wear pajamas and know where my shoes are. I can do that.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
4/9

Quick update... the good stuff is at the end. Short form -- we're still shaking, kids!
shake down cruise? )
This one seems to have been centered on land. South of Fukushima prefecture (where the reactors are -- which have announced no problem, even though they did turn off the power or something for a bit).

And another one! Magnitude 4.2 as I'm writing this.

Guess the catfish under the island got itchy again.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
4/7

One of the French chefs from Tokyo, along with a number of French residents, went out to one of the shelters and served everyone a French meal. The soup and French bread apparently were very popular. Sorry, I missed what kind of soup.
patchwork... )
It's an odd mix of urgent practical thinking and needs with Monday morning quarterbacks happily figuring out what everyone shoulda done and really oughta do next time. And the occasional stumble as oughta runs into concrete steps and stubs its toes. And cherry blossoms with the Emperor.
mbarker: (Burp)
4/6

There's some talk about the times it is taking to repair things. Apparently having one road which was badly broken repaired and handling traffic again in six days got some notice in the foreign press.
duct tape and cardboard? )
Incidentally, our local cherry blossoms are coming out. Everyone is trying to guess when the peak will be, and setting up hanami (flower viewing) groups. Here's a Japanese phrase to learn, "Hana yori dango" which really means sweets before flowers (dango being a popular sweet, hana being flowers, and which do you prefer, flowers or sweets?). It's frequently mentioned at this season, as the crowds sometimes seem more intent on eating and drinking than looking at the flowers. But of course, the cherry blossoms don't really notice...
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
4/4 (continued)

In Iwate, some of the teachers have gone ahead and organized a new kindergarten. They're calling it the Blue Sky Kindergarten, and they're meeting on the playground. They've also gotten volunteers organized to give the kids haircuts, and they show everyone getting a haircut outside. And the graduating sixth-graders cleaned up their randuseru -- leather bookbags -- and made a little ceremony of giving them to the new class. They had 180 to pass on.
blue sky and peach blossoms, too )
In one of the towns, in the middle of the debris, there is a white statue of liberty, with a red flame held high. The statue is little bit cracked, but it still holding the lamp up. Apparently this was a statue in a park. They talk with one of the local residents, who says it's really good to see that still standing. I thought it looked good, too.
mbarker: (Smile)
4/3

One of the news channels had a really nice opening shot. First was the trash building frameworks and debris. Then the focus shifted, putting them into soft background as a single branch with small buds came into focus. Mom nature is rebuilding!
one more time )
There's a brief look at vegetables that are being measured or embargoed. There are several prefectures now being monitored apparently. Almost everybody has spinach on the list. Spinach is going to get a bad name.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
3/31

There's video from Yamata. They have a group of 12-year-old kids who are putting together a time capsule, to be opened in eight years when they are 20 years old. Each of them writes letters, puts in keepsakes, and so on. They wrap each piece up in plastic, put everything in a large plastic tub, wrap that in plastic and seal it, and then bury the whole thing. They didn't really show us much of the letters -- apparently most of them are reminding themselves (in eight years) of what it feels like right now. They also showed the town where these kids are from (they are mostly living in a shelter, I think). The town is foundations, with a couple of ships perched in the middle. A backhoe works away.
More bits and pieces )
They showed volunteers collecting and boxing donations of books. Apparently they have asked kids to bring in their favorite manga, picture books, and so on, with a message. And they are packing those up to go to the shelters.

Somewhere today there was a report that it is now estimated that it will take at least six months to get people out of the shelters into emergency housing. So there will be time to read the books...
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
3/29

There's a video of Nissan Carlos Ghosn somewhere in the disaster area -- Ibaraki? -- looking at a damaged factory. He tells the workers and reporters that they're going to get people in here, and he expects partial production by mid-April. And he says it will be better than before. And he expects they will hit full production again by June. They show him and a ring of local workers doing a cheer, shoving their fists into the air together.

swinging in the breeze... )
I was wondering today what it would be like to be one of these children? I mean, for them, life has been sort of normal, but then ... quake, tsunami, radiation danger! And now you're living in a shelter, with famous people and volunteers coming through, news people taking pictures, all kinds of stuff being given to you... and in a year or two? Will they go back to a normal life, or will they expect that this kind of thing will happen any day now? Will they consider normal life as kind of boring? What will they take away from this experience?

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