Regular reader Guy Jean sends along some articles written by a guy named Lewis Page who seems to be a man after my own heart.
His most recent article carries on about a theme that I have harped on and that is mass media sensationalist reporting. In my case, I attack the sensationalism as I am a professional with 30-years experience in the mass media – including news reporting. From this experience and judging from his writing, I gather that Mr. Page has experience with mass media BS because he takes it to them with a one-two punch.
The article appeared in the Register, one of the world’s biggest online tech publications. The Register is headquartered in London and San Francisco. It is read by over 1.5 million tech related users per month. So this is written by a person with a technical background.
The situation at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan was brought under control days ago. It remains the case as this is written that there have been no measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant or anybody else, and all indications are that this will remain the case. And yet media outlets around the world continue with desperate, increasingly hysterical and unscrupulous attempts to frame the situation as a crisis.
Here’s a roundup of the latest facts, accompanied by highlights of the most egregious misreporting.
First up, three technicians working to restore electrical power in the plant’s No 3 reactor building stood in some water while doing so. Their personal dosimetry equipment later showed that they had sustained radiation doses up to 170 millisievert. Under normal rules when dealing with nuclear powerplant incidents, workers at the site are permitted to sustain up to 250 millisievert before being withdrawn. If necessary, this can be extended to 500 millisievert according to World Health Organisation guidance.
(I have information on comparison’s of dosages in millisievert and microsievert here in Current Radiation Levels in Tokyo and Tsukuba (75 km. north of Tokyo) )
None of this involves significant health hazards: actual radiation sickness is not normally seen until a dose of 1,000 millisievert and is not common until 2,000. Additional cancer risk is tiny: huge numbers of people must be subjected to such doses in order to see any measurable health consequences. In decades to come, future investigators will almost certainly be unable to attribute any cases of cancer to service at Fukushima.
Nonetheless, in the hyper-cautious nuclear industry, any dose over 100 millisievert is likely to cause bosses to pull people out at least temporarily. Furthermore, the three workers had sustained slight burns to their legs as a result of standing in the radioactive water – much as one will burn one’s skin by exposing it to the rays of the sun (a tremendously powerful nuclear furnace). They didn’t even notice these burns until after completing their work. Just to be sure, however, the three were sent for medical checks.
So – basically nothing happened. Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn. But this was reported around the globe as front-page news under headlines such as “Japanese Workers Hospitalized for Excessive Radiation Exposure“. Just to reiterate: it was not excessive.
In the next article, Mr. Lewis deftly points out the crass sensationalist reporting concerning our drinking water in Tokyo.
Then there’s the matter of the tapwater in Tokyo. Two days ago, levels of radioactive iodine-131 were found in the city’s water which were above the safety limit for baby milk calculated on the basis of a year’s consumption: in other words, if babies drank such water for a year constantly they would have a tiny, minuscule extra risk of thyroid cancer. (emphasis mine)
One should note that iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days: it disappears almost completely within a matter of weeks. The Fukushima reactors have not been generating any more of it since they scrammed nearly a fortnight ago, and the residual core heating which is causing it to be emitted has plunged to tiny proportions of that seen in the days after the quake.
I think this writing falls in line with what I have been saying all along: The experts have been telling us that there is no danger to folks living far away from the nuclear reactors and a 30 kilometer (18 mile) evacuation zone around Fukushima is sufficient. Keep in mind that Three Mile Island only had a 10 mile evacuation zone and Three Mile Island had no deaths attributed to it. I also pointed out in News For Intelligent People Criticize Japan Nuclear Reporting that there were other publications – science and technical ones – who were slamming the poor, sensationalist reporting:
The news from Japan is both awful and appalling. Awful: 23,000 confirmed dead or missing, and counting. Appalling: pretty much anything to do with the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. Nuclear meltdown like Chernobyl! Deadly contaminated milk and radioactive tap water! Tokyo a post apocalyptic ghost town! A plume of radiation that threatens America’s West Coast!
Where do they get these morons? Again, twenty thousand people are dead, and the drooling dimwits of the media can’t stop babbling about Fukushima, where exactly one person died – a crane operator who had the misfortune to be up in the cab of his vehicle when the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history hit – and fewer than 30 were injured, only a handful of whom required treatment for radiation exposure.
Regardless, the to keep up the panic and anti-nuclear power activists also have theirs. In the case of the latter, one need only think about Man Made Global Warming to realize that these people have an agenda.
Having an agenda does not make for rational reporting.
Howard Beale said it best in the 1976 movie about TV and the mass media. He implored people to turn off their TVs: “Because less than 3% of you read books. Less than 15% of your read newspapers. Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube!”
Two thumbs up to Guy Jean. Thanks!
Well known Japanese TV and radio star George Williams is on the cover of Japan’s best known bicycling magazine, Bicycle Navi, for the month of May, 2011. Congrats George!
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As of now, the earthquake in Northern Japan has caused extensive damage and over 1,300 people have died from the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. The situation seemingly keeps getting worse as it has also been reported that a nuclear power plant near Fukushima has cracked and is now experiencing a nuclear meltdown. My heart goes out to those who have suffered in this disaster and I thank you all for the messages worrying about our safety.
I’d like to comment briefly on one aspect of this tragedy that is not being reported in the news; government mistakes and responsibility – personal and otherwise.
Only a fool would sit around, listening to government announcements on whether or not to evacuate or what to do for their own safety.
Radiation leaked from
a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday,
the government said, after an explosion blew the roof off the
facility in the wake of a massive earthquake.
The developments raised fears of a meltdown at the plant as
officials scrambled to contain what could be the worst nuclear
disaster since the Chernobyl explosion in 1986 that shocked the
The Japanese plant was damaged by Friday’s 8.9-magnitude
earthquake, which sent a 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami ripping
through towns and cities across the northeast coast. Japanese
media estimate that at least 1,300 people were killed.
“We are looking into the cause and the situation and we’ll
make that public when we have further information,” Chief
Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said after confirming the
explosion and radiation leak at the plant.
Edano said an evacuation radius of 10 km (6 miles) from the
stricken 40-year-old Daiichi 1 reactor plant in Fukushima
prefecture was adequate, but an hour later the boundary was
extended to 20 km (13 miles). TV footage showed vapour rising
from the plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
This is a terrible situation indeed, but there is a very important lesson
in life for all of us in this mess. I believe that this is a lesson that is
teaching us personal responsibility and it is also teaching us to be
leery of the state and its proclamations.
I won’t go into all of the facets of this argument, but let’s just examine
one piece of this situation.
Consider: On Friday, soon after the earthquake struck, it was reported
that the Japanese electrical company that was running the nuclear
power plant was experiencing difficulties. The reports said that even
though they had shut down the reactor, for fear of damage, the
temperature of the inner core was still rising. The company said they
were making all efforts to contain the problem. I believe that.
The Japanese government claimed that there was minimal danger of
a radiation leak and that engineers were getting the situation under
control. They also said, as a precaution, they were evacuating people
within a three mile radius of the power plant. I see that most of these
reports have disappeared into the memory hole, but here’s one.
This report was released at about 1 pm on Saturday March 12, 2011.
Evacuation underway in the area surrounding Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. air force had delivered coolant to avert a rise in the temperature of the facility’s nuclear rods.
Pressure building in the plant was set to be released soon, a move that could result in a radiation leak, officials said. Some 3,000 people who live within a 3 km radius of the plant had been evacuated, Kyodo news agency said.
“It’s possible that radioactive material in the reactor vessel could leak outside but the amount is expected to be small and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered,” Chief Cabinet Yukio Edano told a news conference.
Possible.. Small amount… No big deal, right? But then, a few hours
later, the government changes its report to a 10 kilometer (6 miles)
radius… Then, not 1 hour later, the danger zone is extended to a 20
kilometer (12 miles) radius. Only a fool would believe that 12 miles
is a safe distance.
(By the way, as of now, it is confirmed 9 people with radiation
poisoning with at least 160 more are suspected of it. So much
for government announcements that it was safe.
- Mike 3/13/11 9:30 am).
My entire point here is that the government screws up constantly and,
if you take what they say for god-given truth, then you deserve what
you get. If anyone should know the truth in that statement it should
be the Japanese. They had a government who lied them into World
War II and then, a decade of so after the war, they had a government
who lied to them about a similar disaster to today called Minamata.
Now, before you dear reader go on to protest and defend the statist
position in that, “The government must report something!” Let me
say that as broadcaster with over 30 years experience, it’s an
argument that I completely disagree with and I will save for
another day. The government will make their announcements,
the point of this article is whether you should believe them at face
value or not.
Let me point out to you one more critical factor in my argument:
These nuclear power plants need a license to operate. Who grants
these licenses? The government, that’s who. This means that
citizens who are damaged by any errors of that power plant only have
recourse in taking action against that government in court should
anything go wrong. Think about that. It was the government who gave
the approval for that plant to be built where it is built. It was the
government who gave the approval for the safety precautions of
that plant. The free market was no where to be seen in these events.
I wonder, if a power comany were liable in civil and criminal court for
damages – which, because of Japanese law, they are not – would
they be building government approved-nuclear power plants on
earthquake fault lines? I doubt it.
It took over 50 years for the government to admit that they lied in
the case of Minamata.
So the government created this situation and, as usual, the
government must cover up and spin the results of this mess.
Now, dear reader, I ask you, do you still believe that you should
believe government pronouncements as to whether or not it’s
safe to go outside or drink the water or breathe the air?
Who knows what’s best for you and your families safety more
than you do? Gather all the available information you can -
remembering that there are those who have certain motivations
for what they pronounce – and judge for yourself.
Your life and your children’s lives depend upon it. Take this
opportunity to teach your children well… If you don’t teach them,
the government will.
this month since it is 40 years old. Once again, government
interference raises its ugly head. This is the second time in 29 years that this power plant has had an accident. If the
government would get out of the way and allow the free
market to work, competitiion would allow companies to build better and safer plants. Now?
The results of the system are easy to see for everyone.
When is Amazon going to take over the world and destroy every single brick and mortar retailer in existence? I don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised if, in say, 5 years, people do 85% of all their shopping on Amazon.
Amazon is everywhere. And Amazon boxes are all the same… But! They are a world apart from all the other little boxes! Amazon has created a goldmine in the neighborhood trash. Read on!
There is one thing abut Amazon that really struck home to me about last Christmas. In my neighborhood, cardboard boxes are recycled and thrown out in bundles on Tuesday. Right after Christmas, I noticed tons of boxes in those recycled piles that had the Amazon “smiling lips” logo along with their easy to recognize lettering. “Wow!” I thought, “Everyone is doing their Christmas shopping on Amazon.”
The Amazon boxes were everywhere you looked! They were much more ubiquitous than they were even the Christmas before.
Gee, I think someone bought Star Wars stuff through Amazon.
Don’t you think every kid in the neighborhood saw this? (This
was taken near my house last week!)
Now, think about that; see a brand in the garbage and having a positive brand name recognition is a rare case indeed. But Amazon pulls it off. isn’t this just genius advertising? Usually any promotion and advertising will stop at the end of the the sale. But not with Amazon! With Amazon, the promotion continues even after the items have been sold, shipped, while they are delivered, opened and disposed of!
Now that is just brilliant in its simplicity and when you stop to think about it for a half a second, its just plain smart business.
Usually if you see a makers box in the garbage, it doesn’t have a good image. When you see a Nike Tennis shoes box or McDonald’s packaging in the trash, it’s just trash. You don’t get any positive feelings about that company. It doesn’t have a good impact on your consciousness. But the Amazon mark? The Amazon mark is different. It remains as a very positive note to all who see it. It is a reaffirmation that shopping at Amazon is good, cool, secure and smart. Really! Think about it.
When you see a McDonald’s wrapper in the trash or on the street, do you think, “I want to eat McDonald’s!” No. You don’t. But when you see an Amazon.com box, you think, “There’s another person who is ordering through Amazon.” It confirms what you already thought; that your last purchase through Amazon was the best deal and you bought from the right place.
And all of this positive brand recognition all just in how a simple logo and branding is handled. Compare this to how poorly a company like Groupon haphazardly handles their logo; Groupon’s is different almost every time you see it. Amazon, like any great companies logo, is the same every time.
I don’t know if Amazon planned it that way, but it doesn’t matter. The results are in: When anyone sees that Amazon mark on a Amazon logo in the trash, it is a 3rd party opinion that Amazon is a good place to do business with.
Name & logo are unmistakable!
A good 3rd party opinion from someone through a garbage pile to me, the customer, is positive reinforcement and excellent motivation to be a return customer. And that didn’t cost the retailer anything extra!
Can you think of one other example whereby a company uses their refuse to put their company in a positive light to the public? I can’t. If that isn’t genius marketing, I don’t know what is!
Yahoo just reports today that Amazon beats out Costco for prices! Read here.
The verdict is in! Japan still makes the best cars in the world.
In spite of all the problems reported in the main stream US-based mass media with Japanese cars being recalled and other alleged problems with accelerators and mechanical parts, Consumer Reports shows that Japanese cars, using a 10-year scale measuring reliability, beat out all the competition.
Well, I thought Japan still meant “quality.” I’m glad to see my suspicions confirmed.
Before anyone wants to jump on me about accelerator problems in Toyotas, let me show you evidence that this was not true at all and a US Transportation Department 10-month study showed that there were no problems at all with electronics or mechanical parts in Toyota’s. It was all media hype.
Well, the alleged problems were media hype. The results finding no problems with Toyota’s was barely reported in the main stream mass media. Associated Press carried the story, but many major news outlets didn’t. The AP reported:
The Obama administration’s investigation into Toyota safety problems found no electronic flaws to account for reports of sudden, unintentional acceleration and other safety problems.
Anyway, reports of alleged problems are just that: supposed; accused but not proven.
The test of time is the best judge, in my opinion, and the results of this 10-year survey are in: Toyota and Honda are the best cars made in the world.
The Best of the best list guides you to the 2001 to 2010 models that scored well in our road tests when new and have been consistently reliable over time. Each has achieved multiple years of above-average used-car verdicts (available to subscribers), indicating that owners have had relatively few problems.
Models built by Toyota and Honda dominate the list once again, and many of the best used vehicles are from Asian manufacturers. But high-quality vehicles are available from domestic and European automakers as well.
The Worst of the worst list shows models that have had multiple years of below-average reliability in our survey. It is dominated by vehicles from domestic and European manufacturers, primarily General Motors, which had 16 of the 29 models listed.
Actually, it doesn’t surprise me that there are no Japanese cars on the Worst of the worst list. I am, though, a bit surprised that there are so many lousy GM cars (Lousy? GM? Oh, but I repeat myself). And I am quite surprised to see that there are no Fords on the list.
I suppose the reason there are no Fords could be because they don’t live past three years old. As they say, “F-O-R-D stands for ‘Found on the roadside, dead.”
Congratulations to Japan for still leading the world in building quality cars.
The proof is in the pudding. Japan may be the #3 world economy in 2010, but we’re still #1, by far, for quality assurance and superior automobile manufacturing.
Thanks to Philip Oshiro