The Long View

17 Mar

Screenshot from http://www.ustream.tv/channel/geiger-counter-tokyo
Speaking of the situation in Japan, I wanted to bring up an item I thought might be of interest to Collective Detective fans.

With official estimations of the threat from radiation across Japan changing rapidly and sometimes inconsistent, a number of real-time amateur radiation monitors have popped up online. A live geiger counter at altTokyo.com updates a graph with data every 60 seconds, and a uStream channel broadcasting the digital display of another Tokyo geiger counter was drawing more than 14,000 viewers earlier today. – CNET

– and by “and sometimes inconsistent”, they mean “and sometimes possibly a lie”.

At the time this post is going up, I found the altTokyo page unreachable, but the uStream was available and displaying a cpm of 14.14 – from what I’ve read, a rating of 160 is something to panic over.

I find it fascinating, and disturbing, that average citizens have had to take this level of science into their own hands, for their own safety. Whatever the outcome in these next few days and weeks, the Japanese corporate and social structure is in for a long, intense, debate. Are the stoic calm of the people, and the possibly tragic results of trying to save political-face, two sides of the same coin?

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3 Responses to “The Long View”

  1. Justin Bowes March 17, 2011 at 14:08 #

    Excellent point, and…my theory is that they are the same thing. Face-saving at every level, and I don’t mean to trivialize it by using that term.

    I am getting the sense as this goes on that I feel like I understand the people better and the culture not as well. The grief and loss is obvious. The net reaction is unexpected.

    As an example of how I don’t understand the culture, I watched a bit of the Emperor’s address and was surprised at how delicate his words were. At one point he said something like “I hope we can help in some small way to improve the lives of the people affected.” On one hand, the worst losses aren’t material but human, and there really is little you can do to help that. But on the other, it also sounded like the problems of the society will be taken care of, but the individuals are on their own.

    That struck me as a sort of reversal of the role of our society as it relates to the individual — more like the bad times version of JFK’s “ask what you can do for your country.” Is he effectively speaking as the country in that case, which would necessitate care lest he be committing to the infeasible? I don’t know.

    I’m probably reading too much into something that I wasn’t listening to in its original language.

    I’m happy to see the count slightly lower since you wrote this post.

  2. bmj2k March 17, 2011 at 14:15 #

    Any cultural debate has to include the fact that there have been no reports of looting and nothing but extreme patience in the hours-long wait for relief supplies. No riots, no panic. There is more unrest in Detroit and LA after an NBA championship game. And no, that is not an exagerration.

    • JRD Skinner March 18, 2011 at 15:50 #

      Agreed, it’s definitely admirable on a lot of levels – but, sometimes, maybe a little panic is necessary?

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