Friday, March 25, 2011

What Do You Want To Know?

The triple tragedy that continues to affect Japan and the global community has led to an uncertainty about what to post.  In the week following March 11, 2011 the usually chatty and verbose blogosphere took a collective gasp of shock and disbelief. Some bloggers who post daily, did not, others declared their support and sympathy for Japan, for many words failed.  A few continued with their usual self-promotion.

During that first week, as I mentioned, I turned away from the media with an increasing sense of disdain, which over the course of the week turned into aggravation and disgust at the almost complete lack of factually correct information, the ongoing fearmongering and worst of all, the visual exploitation of human suffering.

I could not escape it altogether though, because in RL friends and relatives contacted me for information. While I know more than average, I know less than I ever will.  However, I was surprised at the ongoing misinformation that was being disseminated by journalists and so-called correspondents, who had no scientific background to comment or report on these events.

Early on, a relative informed me about the "explosion of the nuclear reactor" and I found myself explaining that this will not be another Chernobyl, that this was likely, as it turned out to be, a hydrogen explosion and that the most concerning information she should listen for was whether the "containment" had been breached.

I am not an expert in this field, but in RL I turned to science sites that I was familiar with for updates and information.  There is comfort in knowledge, the focus is on facts; quantifiable and measurable to the best of current technology and abilities. Scientists are often portrayed as cold and detached, but at times it is precisely that rational detachment that allows people in the science fields to function and cope in a crisis.  A detachment that allows analysis, without belittling the human tragedy or catastrophizing the events.

Blogging became somewhat irrelevant, the posts that I had planned to put up prior to March 11, 2011, were humorous and it somehow seemed insensitive to pretend that it was "business as usual".  In RL, the last 2 weeks were very busy and I did not have the time to write the posts that I believed to be the most appropriate and useful.  Posts that provided some hopefully useful information.

I have noticed too many comments on the aforementioned science sites, that showed how desperately people were seeking basic answers with respect to earthquakes, nuclear fallout, nuclear plants and power, among other topics.  It saddened me how apologetic these commenters were for not remembering their basic science classes.  I saw far too many comments that included "this will sound like a stupid question, but could someone please explain...".  I also noticed the searches done on my own blog and decided that I was going to post a simple FAQ in order to fill in some of the gaps left behind by the media, which has already turned its attention to more "sensational footage".

I already have some topics in mind, but if the readers of this blog have specific questions, I will do my best to answer them in an upcoming post. If you have suggestions, questions, topics of interest, feel free to comment below or just comment.  For now, do something creative, watch a game, go see a movie, spend time with loved ones or go for a walk and just breathe.


  1. No specific questions but I will definitely be checking in with you.

  2. I think don't think that it's business as usual for most folks. I just don't think that most people know what to do. Husband and I have been discussing it. We both agree that it was too early to know what would happen. Now is the time when we'll start to learn the real effects. We do think that the workers who were exposed to the radiation are true heroes. They are the ones who will be bearing the brunt of all of it.

    I've been posting on my facebook page about it. I have turned more towards my journal and family to try to work things out on what we can do.

    Personally, I'm disgusted with the amount of bloggers and folks who used the tragedy to profit or promote themselves in various ways.

    I'm feeling quite overwhelmed, upset and helpless over many of the things going on in the world right now and that it all comes down to profit before people.

  3. Hi Kelly, I was not implying that it was business as usual for most. I could sense that it was not.

    What you are feeling is shock and a sense of helplessness is what many are feeling. It's why I felt it was important that I write about it here. There are some aspects that is within our control, others are not.

    I share your outrage, these workers sacrificed their lives for ALL OF US and all the media did was criticize, blame and speculate.

    I too turned to my journals to try to process this emotionally. I agree completely, still hoping that some of the blogs I saw were automatic posts, some I will not visit again.

    Whatever knowledge I can share, I will.

  4. Thank you for posting and for opening up your blog for honest, heartfelt and knowledgeable sharing.

  5. These events are really not comprehensible, especially from afar. I have been struck somewhat about how the coverage here ignores the day to day difficulties this has brought to average people in Japan, even if there was not a radiation component. Endless amounts of people are in shelters or worse, unable to get food or proper water. It really is breathtakingly awful.

  6. Ant I am so glad you decided to do this.

    I don't think people understand the gravity of the situation in Japan. Not just the earthquake and following tsunami, but the hopeless situation the People of Japan now find themselves in. No electricity, limited food and water which they have to test first for radiation, and freezing temperatures. Not to mention the uncertanty of not knowing what happened to missing loved ones. Having to go to those aweful mass morgues to find family. This is, and will be an ongoing struggle that will last for months, even years.
    When people ask what can they do? I think it is valid. Donate money, goods, time... But what after all that? We need to keep Japan in our minds and thoughts.
    We need to not forget about them.

  7. @Kelly, to share was the purpose of this blog, if it even has a "purpose".

    @Nari, I'll probably work on it over the weekend.

    @Laoch, I know :(. Hundreds of thousands displaced, I don't see a short term solution.

    @Sprite, exactly. I could not have said it any better. Sustained support, this will take years. I don't think that anyone can really appreciate just how horrific the situation is there. I have an increasing respect for how the Japanese are handling this.

  8. No specific questions from me, but please keep posting.

  9. @Sprite, replied and I meant it.:)

    @Elizabeth, thank you. I hope that it may provide something useful. Need to catch up on your posts, I'll be by to visit.

  10. The local news does this: Excitedly proclaim that radiation from the nuclear plant in Japan has reached Oregon - then they break for a spate of commercials. Upon return, they inform us that the amounts detected are but a "trace" and have no effect whatsoever on the population.

    To my mind this level of news reporting is equivalent to when Emily Lytella used to appear on Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. "Never mind", she would say.

    Like you I have been steadily losing the stomach to watch local or national news.

  11. Robert, astute observation, I've noticed it too and people watch, along with "breaking news" that continue to show footage from days ago.

    International news have started doing it too, might explain why people are flocking on-line instead.

    You'll appreciate this Ignorant vs. Science:

  12. I was a little too busy making sure the people I loved in Japan were safe to post until until recently myself, and now my oldest and dearest friend in the whole world is as I write on her way over there with her husband and all her kids to bury her father. The world does need to keep turning, though, and bloggers definitely need to keep the comedy coming. I need the distraction to keep my brain from rolling itself into a little ball of helplessness.

  13. A very generous offer, A-C, and thank you. I believe what we can all do, aside from any donations we are able to make, is hold Japan in our hearts and thoughts with the intention of love and whatever they need most. And by extension to be conscious of sharing that love with others, known or unknown, for the whole planet has been shocked. I know I've said it elsewhere as we try to process the scale of Japan's catastrophe, but love is not a small gift and I believe it makes a difference.

    And, on the scientific front, can you tell more about what caused the vast whirlpool that formed after the tsunami and have other similar events been recorded? Thanks

  14. tattytiara, I'm so very sorry to hear about your friend's loss. Comic relief or anything that gives a diversion is important. How we cope is different from person to person. My condolences.:(

  15. Marylinn, I agree and it does. A friend was telling me how much the global support is appreciated by the Japanese and will be in the years to come.

    Yes, whirlpools after tsunamis are not uncommon and have been recorded. It has to do with the geological structure (ocean floor) that the wave encounters and the turbulence of the water as it impacts the shoreline. As far as I know, it happens when large tsunamis occur near the coastline.

  16. I didn't know about the whirpool. Is it there for good or only a short term thing? Where is/was it?

  17. Sprite, short term until the intensity settles. Not sure exactly where, just know it was close to the coastline of Japan.

  18. I appreciate your serious, steady voice.


I get paid in com(pli)ments.
Comment, Discuss or Foruminate.
Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.