Friday, March 18, 2011
A US-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain.
..."It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis.
To solve the age-old mystery, the team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.
...Freund's discovery in central Spain of a strange series of "memorial cities," built in Atlantis' image by its refugees after the city's likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.
...Greek philosopher Plato wrote about Atlantis some 2600 years ago, describing it as "an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules," as the Straits of Gibraltar were known in antiquity. Using Plato's detailed account of Atlantis as a map, searches have focused on the Mediterranean and Atlantic as the best possible sites for the city.
Tsunamis in the region have been documented for centuries, Freund says. One of the largest was a reported 10-story tidal wave that slammed Lisbon in November, 1755.
On Saturday afternoon, the moon will be the closest it's been to Earth in more than 18 years. The "supermoon," as observers have dubbed it, will appear Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET at a distance of 221,565 miles away. It will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than your average full moon, weather permitting.What's the reaction in New Zealand?:
A controversial prediction of another big earthquake in Christchurch this weekend is causing families to leave the city in droves and has left children terrified.
Based on the moon and tides, weather forecaster and author Ken Ring has predicted another sizeable quake tomorrow, or close to it, and after the tragic events of February 22, many are not taking any chances and are packing up and leaving town for the weekend.
Mr Ring's claim has been roundly discredited by the mainstream science community, including the chief science adviser to the Prime Minister, Sir Peter Gluckman, who said: "There's no added risk of a quake on March 20 or any other day, and I think people do not realise the disharmony and the discomfort that is being given to a lot of people in the Christchurch regions by [predictions]."
Canterbury University geologist Mark Quigley has labelled Mr Ring's predictions "opportunistic and meaningless self-promotion during a time of national crisis".
Christchurch advertising consultant Kerry, 40, who asked her surname not be used, has fled the city for the weekend with her son Harry, 9, her mother, aunt and another solo mother and child.
As she drove south to Otago yesterday, she learned much of the accommodation south of Christchurch had been snapped up.
Although she considers herself a rational person and does not believe in Mr Ring's predictions, even the possibility of another quake was enough to make her get out of town.
"It does worry me. I think the guy is a complete fruit loop ... but whether he is right or not, he's really put the fear of God into everyone," Kerry said.
"Even though I might not believe in what he's saying, I'm still afraid of what he's saying. I'm scared enough to not be in Christchurch."
Come to Callison's! It's St. Patrick's Day, we're having a party and there is karaoke!No! For once, I will be a prudent fellow. There is a show Friday evening and I have to go to work early on Friday morning, so off to bed early!
But first, Cable TV and a glass of milk, (mixed with Mexican vanilla and Kahlua).
I forgot, as I always do, that I can't hold my liquor.
Very little sleep last night (I dreamt that there were two gray crows in my bed - one dead and one alive - and I had to nurse the ill crow back to health).
I think I'll go home in a bit and take a nap....
Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×10^9 m3) as of 2007. Oil production was 1.8 million barrels per day (290×10^3 m3/d) as of 2006, giving Libya 63 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves were to be found. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets.Digby also notes:
If people want to talk honestly about this and admit what it is we are really doing then perhaps, as a democracy, we can hash this out properly. But using the uprising as an excuse to "intervene" on behalf of Exxon and BP has nothing to do with humanitarianism and liberals need to disabuse themselves of this illusion once and for all.On the radio this morning (Armstrong and Getty), I was trying to assess the conservative reaction to all this, and I was surprised just how cool conservatives are to this Libyan intervention. They were comparing it to George Bush's rush to intervene in Iraq (!) and talking about how Hillary Clinton now has her own war (!!) The reaction seems similar to conservative reaction to intervention in the wars in the Balkans when the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, was in charge, when they suspected talk of humanitarian intervention was just a cover for fruitless nation-building exercises (which made their enthusiasm for the biggest nation-building boondoggle of all time, Iraq, even harder to understand).
Entering into war in Libya is nothing like entering in war in Iraq, but it is nice that that Crusading relish to intervene anywhere and everywhere where Muslims live is beginning to diminish among conservatives. I fear that diminuition has more to do with the fact that Obama is President, though, than any principled opposition.
For some reason, I'm reminded of a protest I saw in front of the California State Capitol early in 1991, when intervention in Kuwait was just days away. A frustrated liberal was shouting about the futility of war when a city bus loudly belched a dark cloud of Diesel exhaust right next to her. She turned, pointed to the dark cloud and shouted rhetorically: "Are we supposed to go to war over - that?"
Well, yes actually. Oil is power. What better to go to war over? And with the European powers taking the lead (they have more at stake than we do).
ISCST3 is a comparatively-simple, formerly-popular EPA air quality dispersion model that has since been superseded by more sophisticated models, but I chose to use it because of simplicity.
Results suggested that concentrations would drop by about a factor of 1,000 from a point 10 kilometers downwind to a point 8,300 kilometers downwind, which is about the distance between San Francisco and Tokyo.
It is hard to exaggerate just how primitive a dispersion tool ISCST3 is for these long-distance calculations, but I suspected the calculations might be robust and more-or-less accurate, because long-range dispersion tends to be simple and predictable. It would hardly matter what calculation tool you used. Even back-of-the-envelope calculations might suffice, and ISCST3 used with screening meteorology is just one step more sophisticated than back-of-the-envelope calculations.
In this morning's Sacramento Bee, there is a story that summarizes much more sophisticated calculations about cross-Pacific dispersion:
But as Bandrowski noted, the map does not show radiation levels. Rather, it appears to forecast how emissions from Japan might disperse based on wind across the Pacific Ocean. It indicates that whatever reaches California would be diluted by a factor of 1,000 compared with emissions at the reactor site.How about that! We are in the same ballpark, more-or-less!
Because sophisticated model simulations take skill and time to set up properly, their results often enter late into public discussions. In a crisis, quick results are the best. Sometimes, they don't even have to be accurate to be useful. As noted in the news story:
Some observers blamed the public confusion on the government's lack of clarity amid the crisis.The generation of American scientists that were active in the years immediately following World War II were well-trained in the art of back-of-the-envelope calculations. They became well-versed in the art of quick calculation, usually out of necessity in the topsy-turvy world of a world at war. The proliferation of cheap and easy computing power in the last generation has been a tremendous boon to science, but it has robbed the current generation of scientists of the skill and confidence that the art of the quick calculation allows. Ever wonder why scientists and government officials today seem to speak with less confidence than they did in the 1950's? We know more today, but without that quick facility with numbers, we act with less confidence!
"Without any information, people are just clueless, and it leads to speculation and fear," said Jim Metropulos, a Sacramento lobbyist for the Sierra Club, which has long pressed for stricter regulation of the nuclear industry.
Arizona’s GOP-run legislature has taken to marginalizing and villainizing the immigrant population with zeal — be it through SB 1070, HB 2191, or SB 1070 “on steroids.” Now, the Phoenix New Times reports that state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-AZ) is pushing a bill to give Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) a “blank check to establish a ‘state guard’ that would do her bidding, whatever that bidding might be.”
Allen’s SB 1495 not only establishes a “state guard” independent of the national guard and finances that guard with national guard funding, but it allows Brewer to created this “Armed force” for “any  reason the governor considers to be necessary
...Given the current agitation within the state’s ad hoc militias, this GOP-generated “state guard” represents an official opportunity for anti-immigrant extremists already active in Arizona. Bill Davis, the neo-nazi supported founder of Arizona’s “border vigilante group” the Cochise County Militia, has been recruiting “combat veterans, with kill records, to camp out and patrol” along the U.S. – Mexico border. He also created a “private military company” to “stop border crossers” when the Border Patrol won’t. Shawna Forde, the vigilante leader of Arizona’s Minutemen American Defense, just received the death sentence for the murder of a 9-year-old Hispanic-American girl and her father.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
After aerobics class yesterday, Pepper stopped people leaving in order to announce that I'm in "Guys and Dolls" at DMTC and that everyone should turn out to support a fellow classmate. I was touched! I got three committments this weekend, including Pepper himself on Friday.
There will come a time when all that seems to be right will be proven wrong, and when all that is wrong is shown to be right.I interrupted him at this point with a YouTube video. Last night, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers sang their atheist song on David Letterman. Apparently it is a favorite of theirs. Here is a version.
For example, people are under the impression that the CIA is an American agency. These people could not be more wrong. The CIA was founded by Guatemalans....
Panic buying of salt in China:
China tried to quell panic buying of iodized salt Thursday after grocery stores across the country were emptied of the seasoning by hordes of people hoping to ward off radiation poisoning from Japan.Meanwhile, panic of a sort has struck the United States too. Unlike the Chinese, and despite the distance, we are downwind of all this chaos. Sales of potassium iodide pills have zoomed.
The clamor for salt reportedly started after rumors spread, possibly by cellphone text-messaging, that China would be hit by a radioactive cloud from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which had been badly damaged during last week's earthquake and tsunami.
...In a scene repeated across the country, online video from the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou showed panicked shoppers filling their baskets with tubs of salt and street vendors complaining about being cleaned out of the seasoning. "I hear there was also a huge earthquake in Taiwan and it will hurt salt supply," a woman is heard saying. There was no earthquake in Taiwan.
Chinese authorities have tried to quash the rumors, explaining that the country has massive reserves and that 80% of its salt sources were on land.
...The Chinese National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center also tried to allay fears that radioactive particles were heading for China, explaining that currents in the Pacific Ocean next to Fukushima were flowing east.
...In another sign panic over Japan's nuclear crisis is spreading across borders, authorities in the Philippines had to hold a news conference Thursday to silence rumors spread on mobile phones that the country would be hit by radioactive fallout.
Co-worker Wei bought some potassium iodide pills on the Internet, but he advises me to buy now, because the price is leaping and supplies are running out. Wei also sends me this link from the Chinese press (as translated by Google Language Tools into English):
Japan nuclear leak caused by fear of radiation damage, Cixi, Zhejiang Province yesterday, a male excessive consumption of salt people "anti-radiation", was taken to hospital after family members found, He died died. This is the alleged earthquake in Japan, the first outside their victims.Who will the first American salt victim be?
"The question is not if but when Southern California will be hit by a major earthquake -- one so damaging that it will permanently change lives and livelihoods in the region," according to a 2008 study by the United States Geological Survey study.
It predicted 2,000 deaths and $200 billion in damage from a 7.8 southern California quake on the San Andreas Fault.
...A monster California quake of magnitude 8 had only about a 4 percent probability -- except in far Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. That area has a 10 percent chance of experiencing a magnitude 8 to 9 quake -- Japan-sized -- in the next 30 years.
A repeat of San Francisco's 7.9 magnitude quake in 1906 could take up to about 900 lives, injure thousands and destroy 3,000 residential buildings, a recent report for the city found.
Even a smaller 7.2 quake would cause $30 billion in building damage, $10 billion more in additional costs -- and if fires sweep the city, damage could rise by $4 billion, the report sponsored by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection concluded. About 27,000 of the city's 160,000 buildings would become unsafe to occupy.
One of the authors of the report, geotechnical engineer Thomas Tobin, reflected that the hot winds of Santa Ana winds blowing from the desert into Los Angeles could intensify a disaster created by a southern California quake.
"If it happens to be a large earthquake on a hot, dry day with the wind blowing, the losses could be huge," he said.
Tobin lists several types of "killer buildings" that would sustain the most damage in a California temblor, including older high rises and complexes featuring ground-floor parking:
* Most "tall, beautiful older buildings" built before 1980 that dot the San Francisco skyline were made without reinforcing steel, Tobin said.
* "Soft story" buildings with a ground-floor open garage or retail space also lack adequate bracing. The sturdier box of the upper floors likely would come crashing down on the "soft story."
* "Tilt up" buildings of concrete slab that are pushed upright to create a big box, such as for a grocery store, are among the most vulnerable. Some localities have mandated relatively low-cost reinforcement. Tobin says San Francisco has not.
* Unreinforced brick buildings would collapse easily.
...Frank Vernon, a geophysics professor and seismology specialist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, described a similar fault far from San Francisco, hundreds of miles up the West Coast.
"The most important lesson in the U.S. and North America is the reminder that we have a similar subduction zone called Cascadia up on the coast of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and very northern California which could do the same thing," he said.
"Some day we will be having this same type of earthquake near our shores," he said.
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Please email email@example.com. Please include in your email clean, clear pictures (one headshot and one full body, we need to see what you look like), your name, a contact number, your height, your weight and the make, model, year and color of your vehicle (we are always needing people with cars and you get a bump for your vehicle) to extras@whiteturtlecasting.
We will be filming for approx. five months. All Background work is paid.
An awful realization is setting in for those trapped in the vicinity of the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex: People are afraid to help them.
...Aid agencies are reluctant to get too close to the plant. Shelters set up in the greater Fukushima area for "radiation refugees" have little food, in part because nobody wants to deliver to an area that might be contaminated. And with little or no gasoline available, not everyone who wants to leave can get out.
Radiation fears mingled with a sickening sense of abandonment Wednesday.
"People who don't have family nearby, who are old or sick in bed, or couldn't get gasoline, they haven't been able to get away from the radiation," said Emi Shinkawa, who feels doubly vulnerable. Her house was swept away by the tsunami.
..."We've gotten no help. We've gotten no information," said Monma, 28, who sat cradling her thumb-sucking 2-year-old daughter on the tatami mats that had been laid out in a sports center in Yamagata, 100 miles inland, which now serves as a shelter for people fleeing Fukushima.
"The government is demanding that we don't go out, but it isn't bringing us anything," Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of a city close to the exclusion zone, complained in an interview with the national NHK television network. "Truck drivers don't want to enter the city. They're afraid of being exposed to radiation…. If the government says we're in a dangerous area, it should take more care of us!"
..."I'm disgusted by the whole thing," Kori said.
"We were told our whole lives that the nuclear plant was safe," he said. "They told us even if there is a big earthquake or tsunami, it will never collapse. It all turned out to be lies."
For Japanese, the desperation has an added dimension: Already the name "Fukushima" is laden with something beyond the fear of damaged health.
The Japanese survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lived the rest of their lives with the stigma of having been exposed to radiation, a stain that years never erased. Known as Hibakushas, they are formally recognized by the government if they lived within proximity of the blasts, and receive a special medical allowance.
But the designation also led to them being ostracized by other Japanese, who feared wrongly that the contamination was contagious or could be hereditary. The result was that many survivors of the bombings, and even their children, lived ghettoized lives because of their exposure to radiation.
The prospect of a similar stigma now worries some of those in and around the Fukushima plant.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Here is a chart of modeled total radiation dose (y-axis; in rem) as a function of distance (x axis; in miles). For what it's worth, let's extrapolate this across the Pacific. (I know, I know, this is ill-advised, but you use whatever tools you have in your comfortable, well-appointed California Cave.)
Modeled results come a report. If I take modeled radiation dose levels from here, and try to fit their longer-distance behavior with a simple curve (hyperbolic cosecant seems to work fairly-well at these distances: dose (rem) = 130*csch(0.067* distance (miles))), then extrapolate it to California (5,150 miles away), I get 3.6e-148 rem, which is reassurringly low.
Nevertheless, it looks like areas within 35 miles, or so, of the power plant are above 25 rem (which is where you begin noticing radiation damage). I don't know what the thresholds are for warning people away (apparently our government is warning Americans within 50 miles distance to get away), but they are certainly at hazardous levels within 35 miles distance.
So, all is copacetic here in California. For now.
And hoping there are no new alarming developments....
People in Fukushima Prefecture expressed concern and rage Wednesday as radioactivity readings remained high around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and kept them on high alert.
"Is the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. giving us the whole story?" asked Atsushi Chiba, a 40-year-old owner of a barbershop in Iwaki, 50 km from ground zero.
A new fire was observed Wednesday at the No. 4 reactor and white smoke was visible coming out of the No. 3 reactor later in the day. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the vapor "is likely to be radioactive and leaking from the containment vessel."
Angered by the television news footage, Chiba said he had given up leaving his shop "because there isn't enough gas in the car."
"All the children have disappeared from the streets in fear of the radioactivity," he added.
A 75-year-old in Tamura, about 75 km from the plant, echoed Chiba's concern. The No. 4 reactor appears to be "wiped out," said the man, who asked to remain anonymous. "The prime minister's office and Tepco keep giving us statistics, but it's dubious how accurate they are, considering that no one is probably able to get in there."
The big quake is at 1:17 in this video.
What's interesting is the time before the big quake, with lots of substantial quakes going on all the time anyway, just as a matter of course. The areas off the eastern coast of northern Japan are very susceptible to earthquakes. It is no coincidence that tsunami is a Japanese word!
"Just keep water on the reactors," the authority argued. "That's all you need."
But that's the problem. The Japanese power plant people haven't been able to keep water on the reactors. The water boils away as steam, and there are infrastructure difficulties just getting water there, much less keeping everyone safe while putting the water there.
No problem, the authority assured the listeners. "Just keep water on the reactors."
But that's the problem, don't you see? They can't keep water on the reactors.
"Just keep water on the reactors."
But that's the problem!
"Just keep water on the reactors."
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I've been over to the NRC blog, and looking for Japanese nuke crisis information. They say:
Finally, there is a lot of erroneous information in the media and online about this event and its ramifications. One plume model in particular is especially egregious and totally bogus. We urge you to continue to seek information from credible sources, including the NRC and other federal agencies.Is that bogus plume information from me? Talk to me!
Back to taxes!
ISCST3 is a comparatively-simple, formerly-popular EPA air quality dispersion model that has since been superseded by more sophisticated models, but I choose to use it here because of simplicity.
I use 1-hour average screening meteorology. I assume a ten meter tall stack, with a diameter of 1 meter, an exit velocity of 5 meters/second, and, for grins, a screening emission rate of 10,000 grams per second (which I make artificially-high in order that low concentrations far away still register in the model output).
Distance Downwind (km), Concentration (micrograms per cubic meter)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Results suggest that concentrations would drop by about a factor of 1,000 from a point 10 kilometers downwind to a point 8,300 kilometers downwind, which is about the distance between San Francisco and Tokyo (172858/213 approximately equals 1,000).
There are other factors, of course. Dispersion doesn't take into account either meander from synoptic-scale mixing, or for deposition of material to the ocean surface. So concentrations are likely to be even lower than 1,000 times less (maybe 2,000 or 3,000 times less).
Nevertheless, concentrations won't be zero, and depending how bad things get, concentrations may not be negligible either. We are downwind from all the troubles in Japan! If things fall apart there, we will all be affected.
Remember, in 1986, Chernobyl led to surprisingly-high radioactivity in places like Moldova and Sweden.
According to the news, nuclear specialists are watching:
As Japan races to avert multiple nuclear meltdowns, one expert warned Sunday that radiation could spread to the U.S.
Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, told Fox News' Chris Wallace Japan's nuclear crisis is unprecedented.
"One reactor has had half the core exposed already," he explained. "This is the one they're flooding with sea water in a desperate effort to prevent it from a complete meltdown. They lost control of a second reactor next to it, a partial meltdown, and there is actually a third reactor at a related site 20-kilometers away they have also lost control over. We have never had a situation like this before."
"The worst case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together, the temperatures get so hot that they melt together in a radioactive molten mass that bursts through the containment mechmisms and is exposed to the outside. So they spew radioactivity in the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of the radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the West Coast of the United States."
"Really?" a surprised Wallace asked. "I mean, thousands of miles across the Pacific?"
"Oh, absolutely. Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere. It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens," Cirincione replied.
Monday, March 14, 2011
In another sign that the Wisconsin GOP’s quick passage of the bill to roll back bargaining rights is only causing the fight to escalate, Dems have now collected over 45 percent of the signatures necessary to hold recall elections for eight GOP state senators, the Wisconsin Democratic Party tells me.
Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.
In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.
Have you seen this interesting plot which also shows the moon phase and seems to show no correlation between the moon phase and the earthquake characteristics or energy release:I replied:
I am sitting here as the house rocks several times again so Googling earthquake information as usual! I wish I was not here right now as these aftershocks fry my nerves!
Good luck with the aftershocks! It must be uncomfortable.
No, I hadn't seen this graph. You're right, it's quite interesting.
Tonight, while preparing for tonight's theater show, my sister called, with the suggestion that if there is a catastrophic failure of the Japanese nuclear power plant, I should leave CA immediately for home (NM), since CA is downwind of Japan. Of course, NM is downwind of Japan too, so I'm not sure how that helps, except that the family is all in one place to get irradiated.
And, of course, CA got a bit of the tsunami too today (3 injured; one missing and presumed killed).
I think people are freaking out a bit: a sense of impending doom. Not hard to understand where that sense comes from!
I heard it on the news. Can you look it up on the Internet? I can't believe it!So I looked it up on the Internet:
James Little, 61, called 911 on Tuesday to say his dog had eaten the body parts while he was sleeping. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he is "doing fine."Jetta said "isn't that crazy? That's crazy!"
Little suffers from diabetes, of which one symptom is numbness in the hands or feet.
The dog, a Shiba Inu, was acting on its instinct to remove diseased flesh and does not appear to be dangerous, said Douglas County Animal Control Deputy Lee Bartholomew.
Dogs have been known to eat dead or diseased human flesh. A family's dog in Illinois ate the toes off a 10-year-old girl's left foot while she slept last December. She had a sore on her foot.
In August, a dog in Michigan bit off most of its owner's infected big toe after the man passed out from alcohol. The man had diabetes, and the animal was apparently attracted to a festering wound.
I said: "It's what dogs do. It's an instinct. Fughedaboutit...."
Have you seen these before and after photos of tsunami effects? Move the slider left and right.Really interesting photos.
The amount of damage is beyond staggering. I don’t know how they’ll recover: it will take a generation just to get back to normality. You read stories about tsunamis in the ancient past, and they read like science fiction, but here it is! And science fiction can’t even begin to get to the awfulness of it!