Saturday, November 30, 2013

the god father of ecstasy...,

DIRTY PICTURES is a documentary about Dr. Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, the rogue chemist who discovered the effects of MDMA (aka Ecstasy) and over 200 other mind-altering drugs. Shulgin's alchemy has earned him the title "The Godfather of Psychedelics," and a reputation as one of the great chemists of the 20th century.

Working from a lab in his home, and using himself and his wife Ann as test subjects, Shulgin's discoveries have brought him into conflict with the law but made him a worldwide underground hero. The two books they co-authored, "Pihkal" and "Tihkal", have built a foundation for cutting-edge neuroscience and medical research. DIRTY PICTURES examines the impact of Dr. Shulgin's lifelong quest to unlock the complexities of the human mind.

{Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin is the scientist behind more than 200 psychedelic compounds including MDMA, more commonly known as Esctasy. Considered to be one of the the greatest chemists of the twentieth century, Sasha's vast array of discoveries have had a profound impact in the field of psychedelic research. By employing unorthodox methods; testing his creations on himself, working from a makeshift lab in his home, Shulgin has gained the reputation of a modern day alchemist within the scientific community}

making a killing

This video provides the facts about psychotropic drugs and the huge profits they create for the pharmaceutical industry. These drugs are not safe and have not been on the market long enough to provide sufficient long term studies regarding their effects. These drugs do cause addiction, however most "doctors" would call this dependence because you do not have to take an increasing dose over time. They are completely fine with you being addicted to the same amount of any given drug on a daily basis. Over half of the people that commit suicide in the United States are prescribed to psychotropic drugs. (Ex: Paxil (Paroxetine), Zoloft (Sertraline), Prozac, Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Effexor, Seroquil, Ultram (Tramadol), etc.

if psychiatric motives were benign, why didn't psychiatry dismantle the war on drugs and fully explore entheogens?

wikipedia | Psychiatry: An Industry of Death is a museum in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA, as well as several touring exhibitions.[1] It is owned and operated by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), an anti-psychiatry organization founded by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. The museum is located at 6616 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California and entry to the museum is free.[2]

The opening event on December 17, 2005,[3] was attended by well-known Scientologists, including Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jenna Elfman, Danny Masterson, Giovanni Ribisi, Leah Remini, Catherine Bell, and Anne Archer.[4]

The museum is dedicated to criticizing what it describes as "an industry driven entirely by profit" and provides "practical guidance for lawmakers, doctors, human rights advocates and private citizens to take action in their own sphere to bring psychiatry under the law."[5] It has a variety of displays and exhibits that highlight physical psychiatric treatments, such as restraints, psychoactive drugs, shock therapy and psychosurgery (including lobotomy, a procedure not used widely as a treatment since the early 1970s) with which psychiatrists have attempted to treat mental problems.

Friday, November 29, 2013

maturana and varela: the biology of cognition

enologaia | Living systems exhibit a sort of circularity in their form and structure. This is evident when we examine the way organisms are constituted by their components. These components are interconnected so as to make up a single whole structure. No single component is either a starting or ending point for this set of structural connections, because this set cannot be reasonably described as a linear series of dependencies. Instead, it is a web of interdependencies in which each component is mutually dependent on all the others in 'adding up' to the entirety of a viable structure. If you were to start with any given component and trace its structural dependencies on neighboring components, then trace the dependencies of those neighbors to their neighbors, etc., you would eventually come back to the first component as something upon which one or more other components are themselves reliant. Because this brings you back to the original point, the structure evidences 'circularity' with respect to its structural constitution.

Living systems are not just static structures. We ascribe 'life' to them because they're dynamic. We can find another sort of circularity in their internal operations. These internal operations are 'circularly' interconnected in the same sense that the components are. There is something about the identity and unity of a living system which is maintained by these internal operations -- something which can be influenced by events in the living system's environment, but which is specific to the living system itself. You can move the living system to another environment, but (so long as it can successfully survive) this circularly-interconnected network of internal operations will persist. These operations evidences no intrinsic 'purpose' beyond maintenance of the living system's constitutional and configurational integrity.

The course of actions ('responses') observed for a given living system exhibits a sort of circularity in the sense it is (at least partially) repetitive. The exact trajectory of these courses of action is mediated 'internally' by the organism's capacities for action. In other words, what the organism will do (and remain living) will be circumscribed by the range of things the organism can do. Because these capacities are in turn qualified by the living system's circularities of form, configuration and internal operations, similar circumstances will result in similar actions.

Correspondingly, the course of situational transitions affecting the organism ('stimuli') is mediated 'externally' by those potentials the world affords. Even though it is the organism's own configuration which determines its capacities for action (and hence its specific actions), the 'environment' influences the overall course or trajectory of the situations encountered, and hence the series of resulting actions. As such, there is a 'circularity' in the reciprocal interplay between the living system and its 'environment'.

The 'circle' of this interplay cannot be reasonably said to have a starting point (except the point at which the living system originates). It cannot be said to have an ending point (except the point at which the living system ceases to be living). As such, we cannot predict the living system's course of activities based on 'first' or 'last' causes.

Because of this, the course or trajectory of reciprocal engagement between a living system and its observed 'environment' is not reducible to exclusive determination by one or the other.

the neverending eugenic quest...,

sciencedaily | "Williams offers us a window into how the brain works at many different levels," says Bellugi. "We have the tools to measure the different cognitive abilities associated with the syndrome, and thanks to Julie and Debbie we are now able to combine this with studies of the underlying genetic and neurological aspects."

Suspecting that specific genes might lie at the origins of brain plasticity, functional changes in the brain that occur with new knowledge or experiences, and that these genes might be linked to the unusual proficiencies of those with Williams, the team enrolled individuals of various ages in their study. They drew from children, adolescents and adults who all had the full genetic deletion for Williams syndrome and compared them with their non-affected peers. Their study is additionally significant for being one of the first to examine the brain structure and its functioning in children with Williams. And, as Korenberg predicted, a critical piece of the puzzle came from including in their study two adults with partial genetic deletions for Williams.

Using highly sensitive sensors to measure brain activity, the researchers, led by Mills, presented their study participants with both visual and auditory stimuli in the form of unfamiliar faces and spoken sentences. They charted the small changes in voltage generated by the areas of the brain responding to these stimuli, a process known as event-related potentials (ERPs). Mills was the first to publish studies on Williams syndrome using ERPs, developed the ERP markers for this study, and oversaw its design and analysis.

Mills identified ERP markers of brain plasticity in Williams syndrome in children and adults of varying ages and developmental stages. These findings are important because the brains of people with Williams are structured differently than those of people without the syndrome. In the Williams brain, the dorsal areas (along the back and top), which help control vision and spatial understanding, are undersized. The ventral areas (at the front and the bottom), which influence language, facial recognition, emotion and social drive, are relatively normal in size.

It was previously believed that in individuals with Williams, the ventral portion of the brain operated normally. What the team discovered, however, was that this area of the brain also processed information differently than those without the syndrome, and did so throughout development, from childhood to the adult years. This suggests that the brain was compensating in order to analyze information; in other words, it was exhibiting plasticity. Of additional importance, the distinct ERP markers identified by Mills are so characteristic of the different brain organization in Williams that this information alone is approximately 90 percent accurate when analyzing brain activity to identify someone with Williams syndrome.

Other key findings of the study resulted from comparing the ERPs of participants with full Williams deletion with those with partial genetic deletions. While psychological tests focused on facial recognition show no difference between these groups, the scientists found differences in these recognition abilities on the ERP measurements, which look directly at neural activity. Thus, the scientists were able to see how very slight genetic differences affected brain activity, which will allow them identify the roles of sub-sets of Williams genes in brain development and in adult facial recognition abilities.

By combining these one-in-a-million people with tools capable of directly measuring brain activity, the scientists now have the unprecedented opportunity to study the genetic underpinnings of mental disorders. The results of this study not only advance science's understanding of the links between genes, the brain and behavior, but may lead to new insight into such disorders as autism, Down syndrome and schizophrenia. "By greatly narrowing the specific genes involved in social disorders, our findings will help uncover targets for treatment and provide measures by which these and other treatments are successful in alleviating the desperation of autism, anxiety and other disorders," says Korenberg.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

black sun rising in the land of the rising sun...,

asahi | Finance Minister Taro Aso’s comment about the Nazis in connection with debate on constitutional revision has caused wide repercussions.

On Aug. 1, Aso retracted his remark, saying “(it) has caused misunderstanding of my real intentions.” But he has not made a clear apology and continues to avoid explaining the essence of his remark.

In Europe and the United States, if Cabinet ministers make remarks that can be construed as being positive about the Nazis, their jobs would be immediately put on the line. Aso, who served as prime minister and foreign minister and currently doubles as deputy prime minister, is a heavyweight in the administration of Shinzo Abe.

Aso’s remark not only hurt people who can never forget the Holocaust and are trying to overcome that history of aggression, but it also caused great misunderstanding about Japanese attitudes toward history in the international community. His responsibility is grave.

At a symposium on July 29, Aso said he doesn’t want debate on Japan’s constitutional revision to be held “amid a frenzy.” He stated: “One day, (the Germans) found that the Weimar Constitution was changed to the Nazi Constitution. It was changed without being noticed by anyone. Why don’t we learn from that technique?”

If we take his remark at face value, we have no choice but to think he wants Japan to learn from the Nazi example. There is also a problem with his recognition of facts.

Adolf Hitler used his charismatic oratory to incite the German people and rose to power amid a frenzy. Once he became chancellor, he enacted the Enabling Act that gave the government the power to create laws without the consent of the parliament. As a result, the Weimar Constitution effectively ceased. But that does not mean a “Nazi Constitution” was established.

Either way, such a thing as changing the Constitution without anyone noticing must never be tolerated. Moreover, Aso’s comment about Hitler and the implication that his example should be followed are utterly unacceptable. The remark is not something that Aso can get away with by simply retracting it.

In Germany at the time, frequent issuance of emergency presidential directives caused the emasculation of the parliament and gave rise to Nazi dictatorship, which led to numerous calamities. There is no way anyone who understands the history of how constitutionalism was rendered toothless can thoughtlessly make reference to the Nazis in discussing constitutional affairs.

fukushima spurs approval of japanese secrecy law...,

AP | Japan's more powerful lower house of Parliament approved a state secrecy bill late Tuesday that imposes stiffer penalties on bureaucrats who leak secrets and journalists who seek them, despite criticism the government is making a heavy-handed effort to hide what it's doing and suppress press freedom.

The public is concerned because the government won't say exactly what becomes secret. Critics say the law could allow the government to withhold more information and ultimately undermine Japan's democracy.

The bill was approved after hours of delay due to protests by opposition lawmakers. The ruling block and its supporters hope the weaker upper house will pass the legislation next month.
The ruling party says the law is needed to encourage the United States and other allies to share national security information with Japan. With the creation of a U.S.-style National Security Council in his office, it is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to strengthen Japan's role in global security and create a more authoritarian government at home.

"This law is designed to protect the safety of the people," Abe said, promising to relieve citizens' concerns through further parliamentary debate.

The bill allows heads of ministries and agencies to classify 23 vaguely worded types of information related to defense, diplomacy, counterintelligence and counterterrorism, almost indefinitely.

Critics say it might sway authorities to withhold more information about nuclear power plants, arguing they could become terrorist targets. Or they warn that officials may refuse to disclose key elements of free trade talks to protect concessions that would make Tokyo or a partner look bad.
The move is welcomed by the United States, which wants a stronger Japan to counter China's military rise, but raises fears in Japan that the country could be edging back toward its militaristic past, when authorities severely restrained free speech.

Some experts say the legislation would ease the way for Abe's drive to revise Japan's U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution to give more power to the government and stress civil duties over basic human rights.

"My biggest concern is that it would be more difficult for the people to see the government's decision-making process," said Kyouji Yanagisawa, a former top defense official who was in charge of national security in the Prime Minister's Office in 2004-2009. "That means we can't check how or where the government made mistakes, or help the government make a wise decision."

At a public hearing in Fukushima on Monday, the only one held before the vote, lawyer Hiroyasu Maki said the bill's definition of secrets is so vague and broad that it could easily be expanded to include radiation data crucial to the evacuation and health of residents in case of another nuclear crisis. Opponents said that Tuesday's vote despite unanimous opposition by the seven local officials invited to the hearing already shows the Abe government's high-handed approach.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers say Washington has repeatedly said it feels insecure about sharing top-secret information with Japan due to its lack of legal protection for secrets. The U.S. is worried about leaks to China, they say.

could tepco's removal of fuel rods from unit 4 be a complete charade?

Complete transcript from Nuclear Regulatory Commission Website

Editor’s Note:  This morning I received a call from Mike Ruppert who had obtained these documents from a Facebook reader. At this point, I see the links and sources for this story as legitimate. The Enformable Nuclear News website seems quite reliable. I concur with Mike who says:

It is my prayer and deepest heartfelt wish that somehow what follows can be shown to be incorrect. If it is correct, however, then in my estimation ONLY two important questions remain to be asked. They are, “Exactly how much radiation has been released and how many human beings have already been fatally exposed and in what regions of the Northern Hemisphere?” And, “As radiation continues to spread – especially for more dangerous isotopes like plutonium – is this then an eventual life-terminating release of radiation for the entire planet?”

This is not a spoof. This is not “The Onion” on steroids. If these documents are valid, we are in deep, deep trouble…CB

lack of replacement is a nation killer...,

Towards the end of the documentary, the BBC reporter interviews a fluent English speaking medical worker. The key take away from this documentary is that the current velocity of money leading to economic growth has led Japan to a certain level of national assets and liabilities. If we reduce the ability to grow the assets, then the liabilities (in this case, the very real problem of an overabundance of Japanese Government debt) is not going to be serviced. 

Who will buy Japanese bonds? How will Japan be able to get the workers it needs to fulfill exports which are Japan’s bread and butter?

There is also talk about mass immigration in this same segment of the documentary - and the Japanese will have none of it.

Water, energy, pollution - the unspeakable - are all acute problems for Japan - BUT it is the finances which will not support resolution of these fundamental problems. With the globe all interconnected financially these days, and not likely to change, it is a problem which the Japanese will not be able to overcome.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


ribbonfarm | James C. Scott’s fascinating and seminal book, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, examines how, across dozens of domains, ranging from agriculture and forestry, to urban planning and census-taking, a very predictable failure pattern keeps recurring.  The pictures below, from the book (used with permission from the author) graphically and literally illustrate the central concept in this failure pattern, an idea called “legibility.”

States and large organizations exhibit this pattern of behavior most dramatically, but individuals frequently exhibit it in their private lives as well.

Along with books like Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organization, Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors we Live By, William Whyte’s The Organization Man and Keith Johnstone’s Impro, this book is one of the anchor texts for this blog. If I ever teach a course on ‘Ribbonfarmesque Thinking,’ all these books would be required reading. Continuing my series on complex and dense books that I cite often, but are too difficult to review or summarize, here is a quick introduction to the main idea.

The Authoritarian High-Modernist Recipe for Failure
Scott calls the thinking style behind the failure mode “authoritarian high modernism,” but as we’ll see, the failure mode is not limited to the brief intellectual reign of high modernism (roughly, the first half of the twentieth century).

Here is the recipe:
  • Look at a complex and confusing reality, such as the social dynamics of an old city
  • Fail to understand all the subtleties of how the complex reality works
  • Attribute that failure to the irrationality of what you are looking at, rather than your own limitations
  • Come up with an idealized blank-slate vision of what that reality ought to look like
  • Argue that the relative simplicity and platonic orderliness of the vision represents rationality
  • Use authoritarian power to impose that vision, by demolishing the old reality if necessary
  • Watch your rational Utopia fail horribly
The big mistake in this pattern of failure is projecting your subjective lack of comprehension onto the object you are looking at, as “irrationality.” We make this mistake because we are tempted by a desire for legibility.

Legibility and Control
Central to Scott’s thesis is the idea of legibility. He explains how he stumbled across the idea while researching efforts by nation states to settle or “sedentarize” nomads, pastoralists, gypsies and other peoples living non-mainstream lives:

The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state’s attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion.  Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The pre-modern state was, in many crucial respects, particularly blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people.

The book is about the 2-3 century long process by which modern states reorganized the societies they governed, to make them more legible to the apparatus of governance. The state is not actually interested in the rich functional structure and complex behavior of the very organic entities that it governs (and indeed, is part of, rather than “above”). It merely views them as resources that must be organized in order to yield optimal returns according to a centralized, narrow, and strictly utilitarian logic. The attempt to maximize returns need not arise from the grasping greed of a predatory state. In fact, the dynamic is most often driven by a genuine desire to improve the lot of the people, on the part of governments with a popular, left-of-center mandate. Hence the subtitle (don’t jump to the conclusion that this is a simplistic anti-big-government conservative/libertarian view though; this failure mode is ideology-neutral, since it arises from a flawed pattern of reasoning rather than values).

cicada 3301

telegraph | One evening in January last year, Joel Eriksson, a 34-year-old computer analyst from Uppsala in Sweden, was trawling the web, looking for distraction, when he came across a message on an internet forum. The message was in stark white type, against a black background. 

“Hello,” it said. “We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”
The message was signed: "3301”.
A self-confessed IT security "freak” and a skilled cryptographer, Eriksson’s interest was immediately piqued. This was – he knew – an example of digital steganography: the concealment of secret information within a digital file. Most often seen in conjunction with image files, a recipient who can work out the code – for example, to alter the colour of every 100th pixel – can retrieve an entirely different image from the randomised background "noise”.
It’s a technique more commonly associated with nefarious ends, such as concealing child pornography. In 2002 it was suggested that al-Qaeda operatives had planned the September 11 attacks via the auction site eBay, by encrypting messages inside digital photographs.

Sleepily – it was late, and he had work in the morning – Eriksson thought he’d try his luck decoding the message from "3301”. After only a few minutes work he’d got somewhere: a reference to "Tiberius Claudius Caesar” and a line of meaningless letters. Joel deduced it might be an embedded "Caesar cipher” – an encryption technique named after Julius Caesar, who used it in private
correspondence. It replaces characters by a letter a certain number of positions down the alphabet. As Claudius was the fourth emperor, it suggested "four” might be important – and lo, within minutes, Eriksson found another web address buried in the image’s code.

Feeling satisfied, he clicked the link.

It was a picture of a duck with the message: "Woops! Just decoys this way. Looks like you can’t guess how to get the message out.”

"If something is too easy or too routine, I quickly lose interest,” says Eriksson. "But it seemed like the challenge was a bit harder than a Caesar cipher after all. I was hooked.”

Eriksson didn’t realise it then, but he was embarking on one of the internet’s most enduring puzzles; a scavenger hunt that has led thousands of competitors across the web, down telephone lines, out to several physical locations around the globe, and into unchartered areas of the "darknet”. So far, the hunt has required a knowledge of number theory, philosophy and classical music. An interest in both cyberpunk literature and the Victorian occult has also come in handy as has an understanding of Mayan numerology.

It has also featured a poem, a tuneless guitar ditty, a femme fatale called "Wind” who may, or may not, exist in real life, and a clue on a lamp post in Hawaii. Only one thing is certain: as it stands, no one is entirely sure what the challenge – known as Cicada 3301 – is all about or who is behind it. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either a mysterious secret society, a statement by a new political think tank, or an arcane recruitment drive by some quasi-military body. Which means, of course, everyone thinks it’s the CIA.

For some, it’s just a fun game, like a more complicated Sudoku; for others, it has become an obsession. Almost two years on, Eriksson is still trying to work out what it means for him. "It is, ultimately, a battle of the brains,” he says. "And I have always had a hard time resisting a challenge.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the poisoning of america's soul?

20th century America is a mystery.

High ideals, proud history, and for the most part a decent, generous, hard working people.

So why does the government's behavior resemble that of Nazi Germany in so many respects?

Why are the big banks allowed to loot trillions of dollars in broad daylight with no consequences?

Why have so many people who are little more than highly polished low life scum ended up in the White House and other positions of authority?

This video based on an interview Dave Emory of conducted with veteran and Department of Justice Nazi hunter John Loftus - reveals secret aspects of world and American history not 1 out of 100,000 people are aware of. 
In the first part of this series was saw how America's leading bankers and industrialists - Rockefeller, Walker, Dupont, Harrriman, Ford, Mellon, Bush etc. - funded and supported the Nazis in German, the Bolsheviks in Russia and the terrorists who established the House of Saud (Saudi Arabia.)

Nearly 100 years later, the State Department and Justice Department continue to protect their creations.

If you ever wondered why the US can't defeat a rag-tag band of terrorists, now you know.

The expert on this call is former US military officer John Loftus who worked for the Justice Department as a Nazi hunter. He was punished for finding too many of them.

We can't possibly understand or deal with what's going on today unless millions of Americans are aware of these facts so spread the word.

NOTE: This video also demonstrates that Islam and the Arab world have nothing do to with the terrorist extremists fostered by the US and British who are currently running amok.

To claim that Islam is a religion of violence or that Arabs by nature are predatory is pure slander. A truer statement would be that the government of the US follows a religion of violence and behaves in a predatory manner.

"Running" terrorists for their own purpose is a decades-old UK and US trick right up to the present day. The program is simple: Create a disaster and then profit from it, often by creating "laws" to reduced citizen freedoms.

This explains the Department of Justice gun running program to Mexican drug cartels. It also explains how Department of Justice attorney Michael Chertoff was able to deliver a complete draft of the massive PATRIOT Act while the fires of 9/11 were still burning.

This is the hidden history of the United States: a Nazi leadership triumphant and bankrolled by their ideological companions in the CIA. From Prescott Bush, whose Nazi ties are covered up by no less than the ADL to this day; to IBM, who provided the machines used to keep track of concentration camp prisoners, the German National Socialist Party was triumphant!

cores went through the floors, rods went through the roofs, water just keeps leaking...,

derspiegel | This week, the chief nuclear officers of around 100 American nuclear power plant reactors are taking a field trip. They are travelling to Japan and then taking a bus to Fukushima. There, dressed in protective suits, they will walk through the ruins left behind by the earthquake of the century, the tsunami of the century and the resulting triple nuclear reactor meltdown that occurred in March 2011.

"I can assure you when they get back from this trip, all of these chief nuclear officers will double their safety precautions," says Dale Klein, who has made the same trip and describes it as "very sobering." Klein, who was head of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission until 2009, now serves as chair of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, which advises Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company that once ran the Fukushima power plant and is now responsible for cleaning up the site. In the eyes of industry experts and the Japanese public alike, the company has proved one thing unequivocally -- that it is in far over its head in trying to handle the aftermath of the disaster.

Klein is generally a polite man, but he recently announced in public exactly what he thinks of the company that hired him. "You do not know what you're doing," Klein told company president Naomi Hirose in person. "You do not have a plan."

In accordance with Japanese custom, the company head, thus chastised, inclined his head and replied, "I apologize for not being able to live up to your expectations."

TEPCO has been stumbling "from crisis to crisis," Klein says. And with no improvement in sight, it had recently become clear that Japan would find itself, out of necessity, doing something that is generally considered very un-Japanese: asking for foreign help. Klein said there were signs that the government was planning on inviting experts from Europe and the US in to help. And on Tuesday, TEPCO took what might be a first step in this direction, announcing in a statement that it had hired Lake Barrett, the former head of the US Department of Energy's Office of Civilian Nuclear Waste Management to advise it on decommissioning the plant and dealing with contaminated water on the site. Barrett was also involved in clean-up efforts at the Three Mile Island plant, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979.

Situation Still 'Tenuous' at Fukushima
Japan had thus far taken the view that it didn't need any help -- certainly not from abroad -- and that TEPCO would take care of things. This is despite the fact that the company is an energy provider, with little more experience in complex disaster management than a commensurate energy company in Germany would have. 

Accordingly, the situation at Fukushima two and a half years after the nuclear meltdown can at best be described as tenuous. Rather than implementing a clearly thought-out disaster management plan, TEPCO's approach has been a haphazard patchwork.

Perhaps the most bizarre malfunction in recent months occurred when a rat got into a switchbox and caused a short circuit. This immediately caused the makeshift cooling system for all four spent fuel pools to fail. For almost 30 hours, temperatures rose in these pools, which hold over 8,800 spent fuel rods that TEPCO hopes eventually to be able to store safely. Charred remains were all that was left of the rat.

Every day, TEPCO pumps 400 tons of contaminated cooling water and groundwater out of the radioactive wreckage of Fukushima. This water is too heavily contaminated with cesium, strontium and tritium to be emptied into the ocean. Instead, TEPCO stores the liquid in numerous tanks, the largest of which are 12 meters (40 feet) across and 11 meters high, hastily riveted together rather than welded.

Satellite images show how these behemoths have proliferated at the Fukushima site, with a few dozen of them in mid-2011, then several hundred by mid-2012. Currently, there are over 1,000 such tanks, with plans for over 2,000 of them by 2015. TEPCO is veritably drowning in contaminated water.

highest stakes pick-up sticks...,

asiatimes | Experts are unanimous that the engineering challenges are on a scale unseen to date, given that the fuel pool was damaged in a fire caused by a cooling failure and a subsequent explosion during the meltdowns. If the fuel rods, some of which may be damaged, come too close to each other, there is a chance that the nuclearchain reaction would resume, which would be catastrophic in the presence of so much fissile material, as well as extremely difficult to stop.

If, on the other hand, a fuel rod breaks or is exposed to air and ignites, this would release into the atmosphere a massive amount of radiation, likely necessitating the evacuation of the plant. The total amount of radiation present in the pool is estimated at 14,000 times that released by the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima, or about the same as in the combined cores of the three reactors that melted down.

"[F]ull release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date," states The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013, compiled by two independent nuclear energy consultants. [1]

In several recent interviews with different media, Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive and chief engineer of the Fairewinds Energy Education non-profit, cautioned that there was no system to stop a nuclear chain reaction, if one should occur, at the pool, and recommended that the operators "throw all sorts of boron into the water" (boron captures neutrons and slows down chain reactions) before they start pulling the rods out.

"I ran a division that built fuel racks, and these high density fuel racks like they have at Fuksuhima are very close to going critical anyway. ... Normally its 0.95, and it can get as high as 0.99; that means there’s a 1% margin before a self-sustaining chain reaction can occur." [2]

Gundersen said in a separate interview with Radio Ecoshock, expressing his opinion that the Japanese government rather than Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, should take charge of the operation: "I suspect come November-December-January we are going to hear that the building has been evacuated, they broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing, we have to wait a couple of days and then go back in." [3]

But even the most vocal critics of TEPCO’s and Japan’s response to the crisis so far acknowledge that the fuel has to be removed because the danger of doing nothing far outweighs the dangers of doing something wrong.

Monday, November 25, 2013

obedience at home, oppression abroad, and wholesale destruction of the living planet...,

transitionvoice | Any empire requires three elements for its own survival. As an empire declines, it becomes necessary to push harder on all three fronts: obedience at home, oppression abroad, and destruction of the living planet. I present a few examples of each phenomenon and embed a brief video clip at the end.
  1. Obedience at home was the subject of a recent essay in this space. Those who do not obey the corporate government are subject to restrictions on personal freedom. For those who are serious about telling the truth to the masses, imprisonment and torture await.
  2. Oppression abroad is obvious even to the typical television-watching American with a reasonably open mind. In the United States of Absurdity, we depend upon our ever-dwindling rural humans for cannon fodder. After all, as pointed out by U.S. President Jimmy Carter during his final year in the Oval Office, the Persian Gulf and its resources belong to us. By extension, the world is our oilster.
  3. Consider one of the many adverse consequences associated with civilization. Industrial civilization converts the living planet into bricks, mortar, and city-centered human habitat. That inexpensive meal served at my favorite restaurant seemed like a great deal, until I thought about the actual, hidden costs associated with getting the meal on my plate.
Finally aware of the costs, which include suffering by humans and other animals, my own heart is burdened.

why tepco is risking the removal of rods without further delay?

globalresearch | A Mainichi Shimbun editorial mentions in passing that the Reactor 4 pool contains 202 fresh fuel assemblies.(3) The presence of new fuel rods was confirmed in the TEPCO press release, which described the first assembly lifted into the transfer cask as an “un-irradiated fuel rod.” Why were new rods being stored inside a spent-fuel pool, which is designed to hold expended rods? What threat of criticality do these fresh rods pose if the steel frame collapses or if crane operators drop one by accident onto other assemblies, as opposed to a spent rod?

Against the official silence and disinformation, a few whistleblowers have come forward with clues to answer these questions. Former GE nuclear worker Kei Sugaoka disclosed in a video interview that a joint team from Hitachi and General Electric was inside Reactor 4 at the time of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. By that fateful afternoon, the GE contractors were finishing the job of installing a new shroud, the heat-resistant metal shield lining the reactor interior.(4)

 TEPCO inadvertently admitted to the presence of foreign contractors at Fukushima No.1 up until March 12, 2012, when the management ordered their evacuation in event of a massive explosion during the rapid meltdown of Reactor 2. So far, leaks indicate the presence of the GE team and of a Israeli nuclear security team with Magna BSP, a company based in Dimona.(5)

Another break came in April 2012, when a Japanese humor magazine published a brief interview of a Fukushima worker who disclosed that radioactive pieces of a broken shroud were left inside a device-storage pool at rooftop level behind the Reactor 4 spent-fuel pool.(6) This undoubtedly is the used shroud removed by the GE-H workers in February-March 2011.

A curious point here is that the previous shroud had been in use for only 15 months. Why would TEPCO and the Japanese government expend an enormous sum on a new lining when the existing one was still good for many years of service?

Obviously, the installation of a new shroud was not a mere replacement of a worn predecessor. It was an upgrade. The refit of Reactor 4 was, therefore, similar to the 2010 conversion of Reactor 3 to pluthermal or MOX fuel. The same model of GE Mark 1 reactor was being revamped to burn MOX fuel (mixed oxide of uranium and plutonium).

The un-irradiated rods inside the Unit 4 spent-fuel pool are, in all probability, made of a new type of MOX fuel containing highly enriched plutonium. If the frame collapses, triggering fire or explosion inside the spent-fuel pool, the plutonium would pulse powerful neutron bursts that may well possibly ignite distant nuclear power plants, starting with the Fukushima No.2 plant, 10 kilometers to the south.

The scenario of a serial chain reaction blasting apart nuclear plants along the Pacific Coast, is what compelled Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time of the 311 disaster, to contemplate the mass evacuation of 50 million residents (a third of the national population) from the Tohoku region and the Greater Tokyo metropolitan region to distant points southwest.(7) Evacuation would be impeded by the scale and intensity of multiple reactor explosions, which would shut down all transport systems, telecommunications and trap most residents. Tens of millions would die horribly in numbers topping all disasters of history combined.

on fukushima beach

Sunday, November 24, 2013

how capitalists learned to stop worrying and love the collapse....,

bnarchives | Economic, financial and social commentators from all directions and of all persuasions are obsessed with the prospect of recovery. The world remains mired in a deep, prolonged crisis, and the key question seems to be how to get out of it.

There is, however, a prior question that few if any bother to ask: Do capitalists want a recovery in the first place? Can they afford it?

On the face of it, the question sounds silly: of course capitalists want a recovery; how else can they prosper? According to the textbooks, both mainstream and heterodox, capital accumulation and economic growth are two sides of the same process. Accumulation generates growth and growth fuels accumulation, so it seems bootless to ask whether capitalists want growth. Growth is their lifeline, and the more of it, the better it is.

Or is it?          

Accumulation of What?
The answer depends on what we mean by capital accumulation. The common view of this process is deeply utilitarian. Capitalists, we are told, seek to maximize their so-called ‘real wealth’: they try to accumulate as many machines, structures, inventories and intellectual property rights as they can. And the reason, supposedly, is straightforward. Capitalists are hedonic creatures. Like every other ‘economic agent’, their ultimate goal is to maximize their utility from consumption. This hedonic quest is best served by economic growth: more output enables more consumption; the faster the expansion of the economy, the more rapid the accumulation of ‘real’ capital; and the larger the capital stock, the greater the utility from its eventual consumption. Utility-seeking capitalists should therefore love booms and hate crises. [2]

But that is not how real capitalists operate.

The ultimate goal of modern capitalists – and perhaps of all capitalists since the very beginning of their system – is not utility, but power. They are driven not to maximize hedonic pleasure, but to ‘beat the average’. This aim is not a subjective preference. It is a rigid rule, dictated and enforced by the conflictual nature of the capitalist mode of power. Capitalism pits capitalists against other groups in society, as well as against each other. And in this multifaceted struggle for power, the yardstick is always relative. Capitalists are compelled and conditioned to accumulate differentially, to augment not their absolute utility but their earnings relative to others. They seek not to perform but to out-perform, and outperformance means re-distribution. Capitalists who beat the average redistribute income and assets in their favour; this redistribution raises their share of the total; and a larger share of the total means greater power stacked against others.

Shifting the research focus from utility to power has far-reaching consequences. Most importantly, it means that capitalist performance should be gauged not in absolute terms of ‘real’ consumption and production, but in financial-pecuniary terms of relative income and asset shares. And as we move from the materialist realm of hedonic pleasure to the differential process of conflict and power, the notion that capitalists love growth and yearn for recovery is no longer self evident.

The accumulation of capital as power can be analyzed at many different levels. The most aggregate of these levels is the overall distribution of income between capitalists and other groups in society. In order to increase their power, approximated by their income share, capitalists have to strategically sabotage the rest of society. And one of their key weapons in this struggle is unemployment.

The effect of unemployment on distribution is not obvious, at least not at first sight. Rising unemployment, insofar as it lowers the absolute (‘real’) level of activity, tends to hurt capitalists and employees alike. But the impact on money prices and wages can be highly differential, and this differential can move either way. If unemployment causes the price/wage ratio to decline, capitalists will fall behind in the redistributional struggle, and this retreat is sure to make them impatient for recovery. But if the opposite turns out to be the case – that is, if unemployment helps raise the price/wage ratio – capitalists would have good reason to love crisis and indulge in stagnation.

So which of these two scenarios pans out in practice? Do stagnation and crisis increase capitalist power? Does unemployment help capitalists raise their distributive share? Or is it the other way around?

west coast evacuation due to fukushima radiation?

fukushima released up to 100,000 times more cesium-137 in surface ocean waters than Chernobyl or nuclear weapons testing

enenews | Oceanus Magazine, May 2013: Prior to Fukushima, however, the levels of cesium-137 off the coast of Japan, as cataloged by Michio Aoyama at the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan and others, were among the world’s lowest, at around 2 becquerels per cubic meter (1 becquerel, or Bq, equals one radioactive decay event per second). Against this background, the concentrations measured in early April of 2011 were all the more alarming. […] The amount of cesium-137 radioisotopes from the Fukushima disaster in surface ocean waters was 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than amounts that entered the ocean from the Chernobyl accident or atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

Ken Buesseler, Senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, March 11, 2013: I’ve had to use this crazy tall and logarithmic scale to get the range of concentrations […] how much cesium was in the ocean off Japan. Each red point is a sampling by an individual taken in, actually released by TEPCO. A little complicated to find the data but they were openly released and I translated them to the right units and made some corrections. Each red dot will tell me how much radioactivity was at that point along the coast on a given date. So they start out here around 10,000, the very first measurements that were made, peaking up here, up to 50 million [becquerels per cubic meter]. That’s a very alarmingly high number [...]

Friday, November 22, 2013

long overdue time for a steer roast...,

jacobin | I’d like to look at a specific question raised by the discussion of private returns and social value, namely: can Wall Street, in its present form, be justified? That is, does the share of income flowing to corporations and professional workers in the financial sector reflect their marginal contribution to the total value of social output, so that, if their work ceased to be done and their skills were allocated elsewhere, we would all be worse off?

I argue that society as a whole would be better off if the financial sector were smaller, and received much smaller returns. A political strategy based on cutting the financial sector down to size has more promise for the Left than any alternative approach now on offer, and is a necessary precondition for a broader attempt to make the distribution of wealth and power more equal.

The financial sector has grown massively since the 1970s, whether size is measured in terms of the volume of transactions, the number and remuneration of highly skilled professionals, the share of corporate profits, or, most importantly, the political power of the finance capital. As Frase observes, referencing Felix Salmon, the huge returns extracted by this sector distort the distribution of income for the economy as a whole. The market return on any activity must be adjusted for the cut taken by the financial sector. This fact makes the attempt to assign ethical status to marginal productivity academic, in the worst sense of the term.

Taking this further, any strategy for the Left that yields more than modest changes in the distribution of income, wealth and power, must involve a direct conflict with the financial sector, and must imply a substantial contraction in the size, wealth and power of that sector. A necessary condition for such a strategy to be feasible is the premise that the incomes flowing to the financial sector come at the expense of the rest of the economy, and in particular, at the expense of working people.

Conversely, if the financial sector makes a contribution to the economy that is commensurate with, or greater than, the incomes flowing to that sector, then a policy that substantially reduces the size of the financial sector is likely to harm the rest of the economy. In principle, it might be possible to redistribute income from the financial sector through progressive taxation, without greatly changing its operations. In practice, however, the political futility of such a strategy is obvious. As long as the financial sector commands its current resources, and is viewed as an essential contributor to prosperity, it will easily defeat proposals for higher taxation.

the treason trilogy: capitalism, terror, doom...,

topdocumentaryfilms | Casino Capitalism. The moment that defined the chaos of the 21st century is the financial atomic bomb that exploded in the heart of the world's banking system, sucking up the lifeblood of the global economy, the credit that keeps the wheels of fortune turning. Banks grown too big to go bust held nations to ransom and trillions of dollars cascaded into the bankers vaults. Leaders of the twentieth largest economies promised never again but once again they've betrayed their duty to protect the wealth and the welfare of their people.

The Crucible of Terror. Barack Obama's plan to defeat terrorists is like throwing petrol on a fire. The President's dream of peace is straitjacketed by economic policies that incubate the seeds of violence. How did the most powerful man on earth become prisoner of a false economic doctrine which threatens the security of the United States and nations around the world? Capitalism was conceived nearly 500 years ago with the Royal act of sacrilege. When Henry VIII demolished the religious life of his nation to enrich himself he laid the foundations for the kind of violence that now blights every corner of the world.

The Temple of Doom. Humans have taken control of the destiny of all life on Earth. What was once the domain of the Gods is now in the hands of mortals and their leaders are worshipers in the Temple of Doom. For hundreds of thousands of years the oceans moved with the ups and downs of the levels of the greenhouse gases, but then the humans begun releasing a new layer of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Some scientists say this will rise the global temperatures causing an environmental catastrophe. Rising sea levels of just a few meters would flood most of the coastline of United States. Around the world thousands of cities would be submerged by nature's retribution. Governments say they want to reduce greenhouse gases and protect species, like fish in the oceans, that are exposed to the economics of greed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

as for the people and planet being subordinated to power and profit - they barely even register

medialens | The focus on the 'narcissism' of leading dissidents is a recurring theme across the corporate media. Bloomberg Businessweek featured an article entitled, 'The Unbearable Narcissism of Edward Snowden.'

Jeffrey Toobin condemned Snowden in the New Yorker as 'a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison'.

On CBS, Bob Schieffer commented:
'I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us.'

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post:
'Everything about Edward Snowden is ridiculously cinematic. He is not paranoiac; he is merely narcissistic. He jettisoned a girlfriend, a career and, undoubtedly, his personal freedom to expose programs...'

Cohen detected no cognitive dissonance in the idea that a narcissist would be willing to sacrifice his girlfriend, career and personal freedom to expose political corruption. In reality, this is exactly what narcissists are not inclined to do.

Similarly, Seumas Milne protested in the Guardian that, despite not having been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime: 'as far as the bulk of the press is concerned, Assange is nothing but a "monstrous narcissist", a bail-jumping "sex pest" and an exhibitionist maniac'.

Sir Harold Evans commented in the Observer: 'I have not been impressed by the blather about "freedom of the press" surrounding the narcissistic Edward Snowden...'

Glenn Greenwald who, unlike most of the above critics, has met Snowden and worked closely with him, observed:
'One of the most darkly hilarious things to watch is how government apologists and media servants are driven by total herd behavior: they all mindlessly adopt the same script and then just keep repeating it because they see others doing so and, like parrots, just mimic what they hear... Hordes of people who had no idea what 'narcissism' even means - and who did not know the first thing about Snowden - kept repeating this word over and over because that became the cliche used to demonize him.

'The reason this was darkly hilarious is because there is almost no attack on him more patently invalid than this one. When he came to us, he said: "after I identify myself as the source and explain why I did this, I intend to disappear from media sight, because I know they will want to personalize the story about me, and I want the focus to remain on the substance of NSA disclosures."

'He has been 100% true to his word. Almost every day for four months, I've had the biggest TV shows and most influential media stars calling and emailing me, begging to interview Snowden for TV. He has refused every request because he does not want the attention to be on him, but rather on the disclosures that he risked his liberty and even his life to bring to the world.'

But according to the Daily Banter blog, none of this should be taken seriously. Why?
'Glenn Greenwald has been looking to take down Obama and feed his own depthless narcissism for years now. He just managed to accomplish one of these goals in spades...'

Further ironies afflict these many casual denunciations of Assange, Brand, Snowden and Greenwald as 'sexists' and/or 'narcissists'.

Most commentators – including many on the left - appear to have little or no understanding of what these terms actually mean.

As the psychologist and social theorist Erich Fromm noted, narcissism in fact is characteristic of individuals 'who are preoccupied with themselves and who pay little attention to others, except as echoes of themselves' (Fromm, The Heart Of Man, American Mental Health Foundation, 2010, p.66). A narcissist is unable to see issues from the point of view of others and has 'a lack of genuine interest in the outside world'. (p.67)

But as Fromm (and Freud) also noted, 'even in the case of normal development, man remains to some extent narcissistic throughout his life'. Indeed, 'The "normal," "mature" person is one whose narcissism has been reduced to the socially accepted minimum without ever disappearing completely.' (pp.60-61)

In other words, rare corporate bodhisattvas aside, the critics damning Assange, Brand, Snowden and Greenwald as 'narcissists' are busy throwing stones in greenhouses. But this only scratches the surface of their hypocrisy.

Sexism, of course, is a prime example of 'group narcissism', the idea that: "'I am somebody important because I belong to the most admirable group in the world – I am white"; or, "I am an Aryan".' (p.76) Or indeed, 'I am male.'

Group narcissism is so dangerous because it generates extreme distortions of rational judgement. Fromm commented:

'The object of narcissistic attachment is thought to be valuable (good, beautiful, wise, etc.) not on the basis of an objective value judgement, but because it is me or mine. Narcissistic value judgement is prejudiced and biased.' (p.70)

This, of course, is in direct collision with rational analysis, scientific method and simple common sense. Alas, Fromm concluded that despite some ameliorating impacts from higher education, 'it has not prevented most of the "educated" people from joining enthusiastically the national, racial, and political movements which are the expression of contemporary narcissism'. (p.81)

And this, indeed, is the great irony of so much criticism of Brand the 'narcissist'. Because Brand is a rare dissident precisely throwing off the corporate chains of 'contemporary narcissism' to point out 'the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business'.
'The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass. We are exploiting poor people all over the world. And the genuine legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.'

These are some of the central truths and crises of our time that corporate journalists employed by the very system doing the damage will not and cannot discuss. Brand's willingness to discuss them in the face of intense pressure to do otherwise - the corporate system will continue to strongly punish him for speaking out – his empathy with victims of corporate power, are again the exact opposite of what one would expect from a narcissist.

On the other hand, the determination of corporate commentators to ignore the importance and truth of Brand's arguments, and to focus instead on his 'sexism', 'narcissism', and his relationship with Jemima Khan, are classic examples of group narcissism; of journalists prioritising their careers, their corporations, their class, 'not on the basis of an objective value judgement, but because it is me or mine'.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

is ethical revitalization the secret to avoiding collapse?

mahb.stanford | The most important ethical question facing society and the scientific community today is whether we can prevent the collapse of global civilization in response to today’s “perfect storm” of environmental problems.  That is, will (or can) we pay enough today to spare future generations from utter disaster?  The interrelated crises of overpopulation, wasteful consumption, rapidly deteriorating life-support systems, growing economic inequity, widespread hunger and poverty, toxification of the planet, declining resources, an increasing threat of resource wars (especially over oil, gas, and fresh water), a worsening epidemiological environment that enhances the probability of unprecedented pandemics, and persistent racial, gender, and religious prejudices that make these problems more difficult to solve, represent the greatest challenge ever faced by Homo sapiens.  The urgency of finding answers is signified by the view of many scientists that society may have only a decade to initiate drastic corrective action, that this complex of interrelated problems is unrecognized by the elites who run the world, and that it has not yet generated a global “issue public” around sustainability.  Civilization is fiddling while its life-support systems burn.

the bugs in darwin?

fredoneverything | If you look at evolution from other than the perspective of an ideological warrior who believes that he is saving the world from the claws of snake-handling primitive Christians in North Carolina, difficulties arise. Chief among these is the sheer complexity of things. Living organisms are just too complicated to have come about by accident. This, it seems to me, is apparent to, though not provable by, anyone with an open mind. 

Everywhere in the living world one sees intricacy wrapped in intricacy wrapped in intricacy. At some point the sane have to say, “This can´t be. Something is going on that I don´t understand.”
Read a textbook of embryology. You start with a barely-visible zygote which, (we are told) guided by nothing but the laws of chemistry, unerringly reacts with ambient chemicals to build, over nine months, an incomprehensibly complex thing we call “a baby.” Cells migrate here, migrate there, modify themselves or are modified to form multitudinous organs, each of them phenomenally complex, all of this happening chemically and flawlessly. We are accustomed to this, and so think it makes sense. The usual always seems reasonable. I don´t think it is. It simply isn´t possible, being a wild frontal assault on Murphy´s Law. 

Therefore babies do not exist. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Unless Something Else is involved. I do not know what.

Complexity upon complexity. In virtually invisible cells you find endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, nuclear and messenger and transfer RNA, lysosomes, countless enzymes, complex mechanisms for transcribing and translating DNA, itself a complex and still-mysterious repository of information. Somehow this is all packed into almost nowhere. That this just sort of, well, you know, happened is too much to believe. It began being believed when almost nothing was known about the complexity of cellular biology, after which, being by then a sacred text, it could not be questioned. And cannot.

The foregoing is only the beginning of complexity. The many organs formed effortlessly in utero are as bafflingly elaborate as cells themselves. Consider (a simplified description of) the parts of the eye: The globe of three layers, sclera, choroid, and retina. Cornea of six layers, epithelium, Bowman´s membrane, substantia propria, Dua's layer, Descemet´s membrane, endothelium. Retina of ten layers. Lens consisting of anterior and posterior capsule and contained proteinacious goop. The lens is held by delicate suspensory ligaments inside the ciliary body, a muscular doughnut that changes the shape of lens so as to focus. An iris of radial and circumferential fibers enervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in opposition. A pump to circulate the aqueous humor. On and on and on. And equally on and on for all the other organs, which last for seventy years, repairing themselves when damaged. 

I can´t prove that this didn´t come about accidentally. Neither can I believe it.

how, if, and why species form?

thescientist | Evolution is not concerned with species, but with individuals. The survival and reproduction of those individuals that are best adapted to their environment determine the characteristics of subsequent populations, but neither the process nor the theory requires that these populations be organized into species. The formation of species, when it occurs, is a phenomenon that needs to be explained.

On closer inspection, the very notion of a “species” is difficult to formally define. This has been a matter of debate since before Darwin, who himself concluded that “we shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for convenience” (Origin of Species, Chapter XIV). Many subsequent authors have proposed more formal definitions, known as species concepts, each useful for particular applications but not without idiosyncrasies.

For example, in sexually reproducing populations, the biological species concept refers to distinct groups of organisms that can only mate successfully with other members of the same group. This definition at first seems reasonable, but situations have been observed where members of group A can mate with group B, and B with C, but not A with C. Formation of biological species is therefore not an evolutionary necessity: under some conditions it happens, under others it does not.

Two other species concepts that are frequently employed are ecological species and genetic species.

Monday, November 18, 2013

sleepers will find collapse swift, brutal, and shocking...,

The myth of human progress, the unexamined belief in the ability of our industrial and technological society to save us from collapse, is a form of magical thinking. These forces, in fact, will ensure that the descent will be swifter and more brutal. Chris Hedges will examine this myth and others that have left us collectively self-deluded. He will look at effective forms of resistance and rebellion in an age of totalitarian capitalism and at ways to keep our lives whole and sane as we begin to face the great unraveling.

remove tepco before removing the fuel rods

vimeo | Fairewinds has fielded a number of questions regarding the removal of the fuel rods from the spent fuel pool in Unit 4 at Fukushima Daiichi. Today's video shows Arnie debunking TEPCO's animated film point by point, and highlights the issues TEPCO will have removing the fuel rods. TEPCO needs to be removed as the organization overseeing the cleanup of the site prior to the removal of the fuel rods.

there were not just three, there were EIGHTY damaged fuel assemblies at fukushima, seventy in reactor one

ex-skf | Move over, three fuel assemblies with damaged/deformed fuel rods inside in the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool! You're nothing.

According to Kahoku Shinpo, a Fukushima local paper, TEPCO admitted on November 15, 2013 that there are 70 fuel assemblies with damaged fuel rods in the Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool, located on the operating floor (top floor) of the reactor building whose air radiation levels are measured in millisievert/hour and sievert/hour (first floor).

There are also three such fuel assemblies in the Reactor 2 SFP, and four of them in the Reactor 3 SFP.

Total 80 spent fuel assemblies in the SFPs in Reactors 1 - 4 are damaged.

The damages had been there long before the March 11, 2011 accident, and TEPCO claims it properly notified the national government as they discovered the damages. But the company has come clean in public only now.

Kahoku Shinpo article below suggests that the oldest of such damaged fuels may have been there for 40 years in the Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool. (Reactor 1 started generating electricity in 1971.)

Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant is TEPCO's oldest nuclear reactor; it was entirely the project by General Electric of the US, a turnkey.

a visual tour of the fuel pools of fukushima...,

tangled wreckage inside the pool
ratical | You already know that Fukushima’s fuel pool number 4 may be the single greatest threat, but that pool number 3 is very dangerous as well.

You’ve heard that unit 3’s fuel pool contains less radioactive material than unit 4 . . . but still a tremendous amount of radiation. Scientific American reported last year:
The pools at each reactor are thought to have contained the following amounts of spent fuel, according to The Mainichi Daily News:
  • Reactor No. 1: 50 tons of nuclear fuel
  • Reactor No. 2: 81 tons
  • Reactor No. 3: 88 tons
  • Reactor No. 4: 135 tons
  • Reactor No. 5: 142 tons
  • Reactor No. 6: 151 tons
  • Also, a separate ground-level fuel pool contains 1,097 tons of fuel; and some 70 tons of nuclear materials are kept on the grounds in dry storage.
You’ve learned that unit 3’s reactor was the only one at Fukushima which burned plutonium. As Japan Times notes:
Reactor 3 . . . uses highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel, Tokyo Electric has reported.
No. 3 reactor is the only one at the crippled power station that was powered by the plutonium-uranium MOX
You’ve gotten the fact that – if the water drains out for any reason – it will cause a fire in the fuel rods, as the zirconium metal jacket on the outside of the fuel rods could very well catch fire within hours or days after being exposed to air. See this, this, this and this. (And that even a large solar flare could knock out the water-circulation systems for the pools.)

this and this – starting at 4 minutes into the video.
35 ton machine blocking the pool
You’ve listened to experts say that – unless the rods are removed from the fuel pools before a major earthquake strikes (using special equipment which keeps the rods submerged in water the whole time) – they will likely catch fire and release huge amounts of radioactivity. See

You’ve read that – after reviewing photos from several different angles – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s initial impressions were that spent fuel pool number 3 might not be there at all, and that nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen said a couple of days ago:
Unit 3 is worse [than No. 4]. It’s mechanically, it’s rubble, the pool is rubble. It’s got less fuel in it. It faces the same problem. Structurally the pool has been dramatically weakened. And, god, nobody has even gotten near it yet.
And you may have caught the recent headline that a 35-ton machine fell into Unit Three's spent fuel pool. As Kyodo News reports:
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Friday found that a 35-ton machine had dropped inside the spent fuel pool of the No. 3 unit, possibly because of a hydrogen explosion that occurred in the early stage of plant’s nuclear accident last year.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., commonly known as TEPCO, reported the finding after placing a camera inside the water-filled pool the same day to prepare for removing, as part of the decommissioning process, the nuclear fuel stored there.

One photo showed part of the machine, originally located above the pool and used to insert and remove fuel, appeared to have dropped onto the nuclear fuel storage racks.
But – until you see pictures – it is hard to get a sense of what all this means.