Seeing the above extraordinary image on Ka-Ching!, I was puzzled. Was this a strikingly interesting patch on a pair of blue jeans? some new kind of Amish quilt-making? Maybe I was looking at it wrong. Perhaps it was really some culture on a microscope slide. Or maybe it was some kind of geologic feature seen from Outer Space. No, it really did look like embroidery… What in hell was going on here?
So I looked and looked, and I found that this is a photograph of a piece of fibre art by the Japanese artist Junko Oki. She calls her work Woky Shoten, which name apparently refers to the “free movement of the line to make a simple repetition of work”, and relates to her grandfather’s memories.
She published a book in 2011 in which she describes her artistic vocation (quoted by Julie B. Boot):
(translation by Toshiaki Komuro)
I have always dreamed of becoming a poet.
It is still my dearest wish.
Upon seeing one of my works one woman had tears in her eyes.
I had never come upon such a scene before.
What had made her cry?
“That is the power of poetry,” said a wise friend.
“You have become a poet”
When I have needles, threads, and other special materials in front of me, something stirs deep inside my unconscious mind in spite of myself,
and I am filled with strong emotion.
That is when I regain my true self.
When I was afraid to move forward,
I came upon a book of paintings by Antoni Tapies.
When I chant his name, I feel fully armored, even with a dagger in my belt.
In an instance I know clearly which way to go and I will my legs to move forward.
The joy of meeting and the sorrow of separation
have given me strength and courage.
Another day, another walk, I will resume my steps.
I will always be myself as a willow tree is true to its nature.
I will make today another good day.
———————————————————————— Poesy can apparently be ordered from the author via email@example.com.
A standard cultural artifact in Japan is the darumaoki, the weighted and self-righting tumbler doll painted as a comical caricature of Daruma, aka Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who brought Zen (aka Ch’an) Buddhism to China in the 5th century and who founded at the Shaolin Temple the entire tradition of Oriental martial arts.
The dolls are visible embodiments of the Japanese slogan “Nanakorobi Yaoki,” “Seven times down, eight times up,” an admonition encouraging persistence, resilience, and the determination to overcome adversity.
A disgruntled Daruma contemplates with visible dismay his own caricatured form as a darumaoki doll. 19th century ceramic, private collection.
Chef Toshio Tanabe of the Ne Quittez Pas Restaurant in Tokyo’s Gotanda district, specializing in French Seafood, has captured a great deal of attention by incorporating kanuma dirt, a granular acidic clay from Tochigi Prefecture, commonly used as potting soil for bonsai (particulary for Azaleas, Camellias, Gardenias and other acid loving plants), as a key ingredient in his cuisine.
Chef Tanabe first won a cooking contest on the basis of a sauce made with kanuma dirt. He subsequently developed a series of dishes, including a soup, a salad dressing, rissotto, gratin, and even ice cream showcasing his new ingredient. Some dishes made with kanuma dirt cost as much as $110, and those who’ve tried them found them delicious.
The BBC reports on the Japanese obsession with ketsueki-gata, a form of racialist junk science resembling astrology, which claims to be able to predict a person’s personality, temperament, and behavioral propensities from his blood type.
[In Japan,] a person’s blood type is popularly believed to determine temperament and personality. “What’s your blood type?” is often a key question in everything from matchmaking to job applications.
According to popular belief in Japan, type As are sensitive perfectionists and good team players, but over-anxious. Type Os are curious and generous but stubborn. ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable, and type Bs are cheerful but eccentric, individualistic and selfish.
About 40% of the Japanese population is type A and 30% are type O, whilst only 20% are type B, with AB accounting for the remaining 10%.
Four books describing the different blood groups characteristics became a huge publishing sensation, selling more than five million copies.
Morning television shows, newspapers and magazines often publish blood type horoscopes and discuss relationship compatibility. Many dating agencies cater to blood types, and popular anime (animations), manga (comics) and video games often mention a character’s blood type.
A whole industry of customised products has also sprung up, with soft drinks, chewing gum, bath salts and even condoms catering for different blood groups on sale.
Sunday: Dead Ferraris all over the Chugoku Expressway in Shimonoseki, southwestern Japan.
8 Ferraris, a Lamborghini, three Mercedes Benz, and two Toyotas, a total of 14 vehicles bought the farm when one Ferrari driver trying to change lanes lost control, bounced off a barrier, and came spinning back into the middle of a luxury car caravan heading for an enthusiasts’ event in Hiroshima.
No one, besides the automobile insurance company executives seen leaping from high windows, was seriously injured in the accident, but a lot of very expensive metal was seriously bent.
Whereas many Japanese have adopted the nation’s unofficial mantra: Shou ga nai, or, more politely, Shikata ga nai, loosely translated as, “What can you do?,” “It’s beyond our control” or “It’s out of my hands,” [Hideaki] Akaiwa stands out as a virtual live-action hero.
Akaiwa said he was at work a few miles away when the tsunami hit, and he rushed back to find his neighborhood inundated with up to 10 feet of water. Not willing to wait until the government or any international organization did, or did not, arrive to rescue his wife of two decades — whom he had met while they were surfing in a local bay — Akaiwa got hold of some scuba gear. He then hit the water, wended his way through the debris and underwater hazards and managed to reach his house, from which he dragged his wife to safety.
“The water felt very cold, dark and scary,” he recalled. “I had to swim about 200 yards to her, which was quite difficult with all the floating wreckage.”
With his mother still unaccounted for several days later, Akaiwa stewed with frustration as he watched the water recede by only a foot or two. He repeatedly searched for her at City Hall and nearby evacuation centers.
Finally, on Tuesday, he waded through neck-deep water, searching the neighborhood where she’d last been seen. He found her, he said, on the second floor of a flooded house where she’d been waiting for help for four days.
“She was very much panicked because she was trapped with all this water around,” Akaiwa said. “I didn’t know where she was. It was such a relief to find her.”
George Monbiot (the original moonbat), the very last person in the world whom you would ever expect to become pro-nuke, says that events in Fukushima have caused him to stop worrying and love nuclear power.
You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.
A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.
The effectiveness of the containment at Fukushima is based on single-piece steel containment chambers, built by Japan Steel Works, (株式会社日本製鋼所, Kabushikigaisya Nihon Seikōsho), a steel manufacturer founded in Muroran, Hokkaidō, Japan in 1907, which traces its technological heritage directly back to the native Japanese steel-making tradition which produced the Japanese samurai sword.
As fears rise in Japan about nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant, the first and best line of defense are the reactor’s six inch thick steel-walled chambers, made by a company that still forges samurai swords by hand.
Japan Steel Works is the world’s only volume builder of nuclear reactor vessels, the steel container that holds radioactive fuel, and in case of a meltdown, prevents that fuel from leaking and triggering a catastrophe. Founded in 1907 and rebuilt following World War II, it supplied nearly all of the vessels used in Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants, including the containers at the Fukushima Daiichi plants designed by General Electric and Toshiba.
While those vessels were made from steel plates bolted and welded together, modern designs require Japan Steel Works to forge containers from a single ingot that can weigh up to 600 tons. It’s a slow process that takes months at a time, using the company’s 14,000-ton press to shape a special steel alloy that’s been purified to maximize its strength. These methods also minimize seams that can give way in case of a meltdown, where nuclear fuel can reach 2,000 degrees Celsius.
Although Japan Steel Works is a major corporation with 5,000 employees, it also maintains a samurai sword blacksmith, in a small shack on a hill above the factory in Muroran, where a single craftsman still hammers steel into broadswords, as the company has done since 1917.
Japan Steel Works founded its smithy in 1918 by recruiting Taneaki Horii, whose teacher Taneyoshi Horii (c. 1820-1903), had studied under Gassan Sadayoshi (1800-1870), founder of the Osaka Gassan school, and under Taikei Naotane (c. 1777-1857).
Naotane was himself the pupil of Suishinshi Masahide (1750-1825) of Edo, the founder of the Shinshinto (New Revival) period of sword-making. Masahide criticized the showiness and practical defects of the Shinto sword, and advocated the building instead of the fukko-to, “the Restoration sword,” by returning to the sword-making techniques and styles of the Heian and Kamakura periods.
Current master Horii Tanetada making a sword and a tour of the Zuisen Sword Smithy
CORRECTION: Yesterday’s original photograph (found at Business Insider) was actually a natural gas facility at Chiba, not the Fukushima reactor. Thanks to K for catching this.
Ignore the screaming headlines on Drudge produced by the mainstream media. Josef Oehmen, an MIT research scientist with a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, explains that the operators of the Japanese nuclear power plant at Fukushima were very unlucky and suffered a hydrogen gas explosion. It came close to the limits of its safety design, but did actually remain within them.
I am writing this text (Mar 12) to give you some peace of mind regarding some of the troubles in Japan, that is the safety of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Up front, the situation is serious, but under control. And this text is long! But you will know more about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.
There was and will not be any significant release of radioactivity.
By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.
I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error. ...
At some stage during this venting, [an] explosion occurred. The explosion took place outside of the third containment ([the] “last line of defense”), and the reactor building. Remember that the reactor building has no function in keeping the radioactivity contained. It is not entirely clear yet what has happened, but this is the likely scenario: The operators decided to vent the steam from the pressure vessel not directly into the environment, but into the space between the third containment and the reactor building (to give the radioactivity in the steam more time to subside). The problem is that at the high temperatures that the core had reached at this stage, water molecules can “disassociate” into oxygen and hydrogen – an explosive mixture. And it did explode, outside the third containment, damaging the reactor building around. It was that sort of explosion, but inside the pressure vessel (because it was badly designed and not managed properly by the operators) that lead to the explosion of Chernobyl. This was never a risk at Fukushima. The problem of hydrogen-oxygen formation is one of the biggies when you design a power plant (if you are not Soviet, that is), so the reactor is build and operated in a way it cannot happen inside the containment. It happened outside, which was not intended but a possible scenario and OK, because it did not pose a risk for the containment.
So the pressure was under control, as steam was vented. Now, if you keep boiling your pot, the problem is that the water level will keep falling and falling. The core is covered by several meters of water in order to allow for some time to pass (hours, days) before it gets exposed. Once the rods start to be exposed at the top, the exposed parts will reach the critical temperature of 2200 °C after about 45 minutes. This is when the first containment, the Zircaloy tube, would fail.
And this started to happen. The cooling could not be restored before there was some (very limited, but still) damage to the casing of some of the fuel. The nuclear material itself was still intact, but the surrounding Zircaloy shell had started melting. What happened now is that some of the byproducts of the uranium decay – radioactive Cesium and Iodine – started to mix with the steam. The big problem, uranium, was still under control, because the uranium oxide rods were good until 3000 °C. It is confirmed that a very small amount of Cesium and Iodine was measured in the steam that was released into the atmosphere.
It seems this was the “go signal” for a major plan B. The small amounts of Cesium that were measured told the operators that the first containment on one of the rods somewhere was about to give. The Plan A had been to restore one of the regular cooling systems to the core. Why that failed is unclear. One plausible explanation is that the tsunami also took away / polluted all the clean water needed for the regular cooling systems.
The water used in the cooling system is very clean, demineralized (like distilled) water. The reason to use pure water is the above mentioned activation by the neutrons from the Uranium: Pure water does not get activated much, so stays practically radioactive-free. Dirt or salt in the water will absorb the neutrons quicker, becoming more radioactive. This has no effect whatsoever on the core – it does not care what it is cooled by. But it makes life more difficult for the operators and mechanics when they have to deal with activated (i.e. slightly radioactive) water.
But Plan A had failed – cooling systems down or additional clean water unavailable – so Plan B came into effect. This is what it looks like happened:
In order to prevent a core meltdown, the operators started to use sea water to cool the core. I am not quite sure if they flooded our pressure cooker with it (the second containment), or if they flooded the third containment, immersing the pressure cooker. But that is not relevant for us.
The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.
The plant came close to a core meltdown. ...
The plant is safe now and will stay safe.
Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for anyone else.
Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.
There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in terminal storage.
The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree. Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening, thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.
The seawater will then be replaced over time with the “normal” cooling water.
The reactor core will then be dismantled and transported to a processing facility, just like during a regular fuel change.
Fuel rods and the entire plant will be checked for potential damage. This will take about 4-5 years.
The safety systems on all Japanese plants will be upgraded to withstand a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (or worse).
So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan—there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai—but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.
“When the ice is lost, the earth’s crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis,” Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, told Reuters.
Melting ice masses change the pressures on the underlying earth, which can lead to earthquakes and tsunamis, but that’s just the beginning. Rising seas also change the balance of mass across earth’s surface, putting new strain on old earthquake faults, and may have been partly to blame for the devastating 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia, according to experts from the China Meteorological Administration.
Even a simple change in the weather can dramatically affect the earth beneath our feet.
The problem with the application of the glaciers-melting-and-lightening-the-load-so-up-pops-the-tectonic-plate theory in this case is that no melting glaciers are located on the ocean bed of the Pacific east of Honshu, Japan.