Today is April 29, 2011. It is the first day of the annual “Golden Week” Holiday in Japan. From today, many Japanese business people will take an entire week off from work and travel with their families to visit their hometowns and their parent’s homes. That’s about it. That’s the big news. Nothing much else happening… After I write this blog post, I’m going to take a nap.
My family will stick around Tokyo, as we always do, during Golden Week as, during this time, Tokyo is empty and an wonderful place to be.
It’s now been about seven weeks since the Fukushima nuclear accident occurred. In spite of the scandalous panic and spittle coming from the main stream media about how Tokyo was going to be filled with deadly radiation, we’re still here.
In spite of the mass media pronouncements of disaster and impending nuclear doom, 130 million Japanese people are still unaffected.
Yesterday, little children attended school, like they always do. The trains were crowded with business people going to and from work, like they always do and the department stores were packed with shoppers buying gifts, like they always do, to take as presents when visiting relatives.
All in all, it is the same as it’s always been.
There are no power outages. The stores have no shortages. The restaurants are slowly becoming filled with customers. There is no invisible radioactive monster stalking the streets.
Despite all the fear mongering and outlandish claims of certain death, we’re still here. Nothing has happened. Today’s radiation level is basically in line with the radiation level in Tokyo on March 1, 2011; ten days before the earthquake and tsunami which caused the nuclear accident.
Radiation levels in Tokyo are roughly 3/100th
Microgray highernow than they were ten days
before the earthquake. And still at 1/4th the
Of course, nothing has happened to us in Tokyo. We are hundreds of miles away from Fukushima. Ignorant pundits claimed that we were all going to get dangerous levels of radiation poisoning, but it didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t happen. I cannot happen. Radiation levels in Tokyo have been and are still today – and will be tomorrow and the day after that – roughly 3/100th Microgray higher than they were ten days before the earthquake. And still at 1/4th the daily levels seen in Rome, Italy.
It was predictable. I predicted it. It was an easy call.
Why was it an easy call? Because I am an experienced news person with decades of experience in the mass media and now I am a blogger.
Why do people like me want to write the truth? Because a blogger should be more interested in the truth than a fast buck. That is also why, in my case, there is no advertising on this blog whatsoever.
It is the nature of the beast.
Have a wonderful Golden Week.
As a king nerd and complete geek, somehow in 1975, at the urging of my high school biology teacher Mr. Howell, I found myself president of my high school science club. Actually, that was alright by me as then, as it is now, all the hot girls are intelligent anyway and they all wear glasses.
For my senior thesis, it wouldn’t do for the president of that club to write any old dissertation about boring things like the life cycle of turtles or seagulls, I had to write about frightening and earth shattering events like the great coming crisis of that time: Global Climate Change. Namely, the coming of the next ice-age.
Oh, it wasn’t just me who worried about such things, the next great ice age that was going to destroy the earth and ruin our food supply and displace tens of millions of people was big news. It was in all the current magazines and opinion leading publications of the day. The one magazine that really turned my opinion and convinced me, as well as a few million other Americans, that the ice age was real and it was coming was Time Magazine.
I was so horrified of the coming ice age and how food and fuel prices were going to skyrocket that I was convinced that writing my senior thesis about this coming disaster would surely turn me into a genius student scholar recognized the world over.
Well, that didn’t happen.
The ice age never came and I never became recognized as a genius scholar excepting upon a purview into a hand held mirror.
Lesson one learned about being skeptical about the news was well learned.
Incredibly, I was one of the few who survived
Time went by and I finally escaped university one day and found myself working – by some miracle and lots of skulduggery – at a broadcasting station. Over the years while working at broadcasting, I became to understand something about hype versus reality when it comes to broadcasting; hype sells. Reality can sell, if it is exciting. If reality isn’t exciting, then make it that way. I found the only problem with that method is that the reality, when bent to become exciting, is no longer reality but becomes into the realm of hype.
Many of the episodes of dealing with this hype started for me, if I remember well, in at least 1982 when we were told that HIV/AIDS was going to kill half the population of the world and were also told that some scientists believed that AIDS was transmitted by dirty toilet door handles.
Another early episode was with the first Gulf War and Saddam Hussein’s 4th largest army in the world (which collapsed after a mere four days after the commencement of a land invasion); then there was the bombing of Serbia followed by a plethora of various killer diseases that were going to depopulate the earth (in no particular order: Ebola virus, Dengu fever, Swine flu, Bird flu, SARS, etc.) and, who could forget the next disastrous event that was going to radically change our earth: Man Made Global Warming (AGW).
At first, like everyone else, I believed the polemic about man-made global warming, but, after growing to become skeptical, and from several ridiculous experiences in the mass media, I had learned enough to do some background checking. What I found about AGW soon made me land firmly in the nonbeliever camp.
But saying that back in the early 2000′s was pure unadulterated heresy and stupidity as, everyone would soon, and surely, remind you that the science was absolutely decided and 2,500 of the world tops scientists had already agreed. There was nothing more to be discussed.
I wonder where those 2,500 scientists are today?
Still, I didn’t buy it. Too many things didn’t make sense.
First off, the absurd idea that the polar ice caps, that are floating on the ocean at the North Pole, upon melting, would cause the sea level to rise. Now that is a completely ridiculous notion. Thank god for my time as president of my high school science club. Any 7th grade student can tell you that ice in a cup of water will displace it’s own weight so that when the ice melts, the level of water will not rise. It simply cannot. The weight of the ice has already displaced its own weight. Water is the same weight if it is frozen or if it is liquid, it cannot magically weigh more if it melts.
DOUBLE CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGE VIEW
President of the high school Science Club (back row, fourth from the left)
The second fact that made me a firm disbeliever in AGW theory was when I was shown data that proved that the surface temperatures on Venus and Mars had risen in conjunction with the rise in temperatures of the earth. Now that was a real head scratcher. Unless Martians and Venusians were driving SUVs on their planets then it doesn’t seem possible that green house gases were causing their surface temperatures to rise in parallel with the earth’s.
No, I had then become convinced that, as many scientists were beginning to state, that the activity of the sun was responsible for our temperature and climate changes. The case was closed for me when I read that a proponent of AGW had actually made the idiotic claim that the sun’s activity had nothing to do with the temperature of the earth. What foolish poppycock. One only need to go outside at night and compare the temperature during the day under the hot sun to be witness as to how much the sun controls temperature on this planet.
AGW, it is usually accompanied by smirks and jokes.
I was absolutely right then and I am proven right now.
Which now brings me to the subject of the day: the nuclear accident at Fukushima and how much this incident is going to change our lives and livelihood. If you talk to one camp, the anti-nuclear crowd (who, incidentally, seems to be the very same crowd who claimed that AGW would destroy the climate and over 50 million of earth’s inhabitants would be “Global Warming refugees” by 2010… Which, of course, never happened) you’ll hear a shrill and growing shriller prophesy of doom, death and world destruction.
If you listen to what is increasingly being described as the pro-nuclear crowd, you seem to hear a much more level headed debate. At least, that’s what it seems like to me.
Perhaps I think this way because I’ve heard this prophesy of doom are too often and, in too many cases, it seems illogical. contradictory and simply not practical.
My good friend, Scott M, sends me a recent article from the Guardian UK written by George Monbiot that asks some of the same questions that I ask of the panic and doom crowd. It was the same questions I asked of that crowd concerning AGW, Swine flu, Bird flu and the others. Specifically, “Where is your proof? Show me some facts.”
Here are selected parts from that article entitled, “Nuclear Opponents Have a Moral Duty to Get Their Facts Straight.” In this article, George Monbiot takes to task one of the most vocal anti-nuclear activists, Helen Caldicott for making a wide array of unsubstantiated claims:
As governments ponder a disastrous move away from nuclear power, it is vital campaigners don’t spread misinformation – but Helen Caldicott fails to interrogate her own claims and sources.
My request to Helen Caldicott was a simple one: I asked her to give me sources for the claims she had made about the effects of radiation. Helen had made a number of startling statements during a television debate, and I wanted to know whether or not they were correct. Scientific claims are only as good as their sources.
Here are three examples of the questions I asked, and the answers she gave me.
At first I asked for general sources for her claims. She sent me nine documents: press releases, newspapers articles and an advertisement. Only one of them was linked to a scientific publication: the BEIR VII report published by the National Academy of Sciences. She urged me to read it. I did so and discovered that, far from supporting her claims, it starkly contradicts them. For example, it says:
• The risk of radiation-induced mutations in sperm and eggs, resulting in heritable disease “is sufficiently small that it has not been detected in humans, even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.
• Regarding transmissible genetic damage from the exposure of future parents, such as “spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, neonatal mortality, still births and the sex ratio of offspring … there is no consistent evidence of an association of any such outcomes with exposure to environmental sources of radiation.”
• “On balance, the existing evidence does not support the conclusion that rates of childhood leukaemia have increased as a result of radiation exposures from the Chernobyl accident”.
I began to wonder whether Helen has actually read this report, or was hoping that, at 423 pages, it would scare me away. The PDF costs $46.
She claimed that isotopes of krypton, xenon and argon “can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease”. When I asked her for a source, she told me, “This is also described in my book.” In fact her book says (p55): “There have never been any epidemiological studies performed on the effects of exposure to the noble gases xenon and krypton.” This flatly contradicts her own claim.
When I pressed her for better sources, her publishers wrote to me and said she did not have time to find them.
Then she appears to suggest that iodine-131 can “continuously irradiate small volumes of cells … over many years”. As it has a half life of eight days, this seems unlikely. Again, a source would help to clear the matter up..
Then she makes a remarkable allegation: as a result of a conspiracy hatched with the International Atomic Energy Agency, since 1959 the World Health Organisation has “made no more statements on health and radioactivity”. This is completely false, as even the quickest search would have shown her.
Helen has still not provided a shred of evidence for her claim that the recent report by another UN agency – the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation – into the Chernobyl disaster is “a total cover-up”. Twice I have asked her to substantiate this allegation; twice she has replied with accusations about the WHO. Is she aware that these are different agencies?
Finally, George Monbiot comes to the crux of the problem and something that I have stated over and over in this very blog: When people are making wild statements using terms such as “if,” “perhaps,” “maybe” and “possibly” – as they have been doing lavishly when describing what could or might happen at Fukushima, the only thing intelligent and logical people can and should do is to examine only the facts. He continues:
I believe that journalists should not stand by while misinformation is spread. If there is any value in journalism, it lies in trying to winnow fact from fiction, and helping people to form a more accurate view of the world.
This is an especially difficult time to try to make the case for keeping the dangers of nuclear power in perspective. The frightening events at Fukushima are still unfolding, the disaster has been upgraded to category 7, making it one of the two worst such events on record. But it is just when the case is hardest that it most urgently needs to be made, however much anger this generates. If we don’t stick to the facts, if we don’t subject all claims to the same degree of scepticism, we could make a bad situation worse.
This is an excellent article and I highly recommend that you go to the source and read it in full here.
As for me, I am all too often placed in the pro-nuclear crowd. It is a title of which I would deny. I am firmly in the camp of the anti-government, anti-war and free market crowd. I am also in the camp of the crowd who wants the truth and not so-called “news” that is based upon conjecture, supposition, hypothesis, theory, thesis, speculation, hunches, or guesswork. Those all have their place but they do not have any place in the news; they do have a pace in talk shows or news stand tabloid sensationalism.
I also believe in the miracles of the free market and what it can do to better our lives through unfettered technology. I have seen facts as to what coal mining and burning coal does to our environment and our health. I know also of the well documented dangers to our health that burning oil causes along with the rape and pillage of the people upon whose land that oil rests.
It seems to me that the only safe and logical choice is to continue with nuclear power and to better our technology and create more of the extremely safe fast breeder types of reactors that have already been developed and tested… Why we are still using 40-year-old technology in our current nuclear reactors is a testament to government interference and the confused – and constantly evolving – stand of the environmentalist movement. First rate airlines have all stopped using 30-year-old aircraft, namely Boeing 747, in their fleets as they are aged and becoming increasingly unreliable. Why in the world do first rate economies still use 40-year-old nuclear reactors when third generation breeders which have been shown and tested as an extremely safe alternative is a mystery.
So called Alternative energy sources such as solar power and wind turbines are fine for refrigerators, heating bathtubs, and running transistor radios and TV sets. But they could never generate enough power to run a steel mill or a mass transit subway line. Frankly speaking, until now, they are massive and expensive failures.
We need to continue to allow technology make our lives better, in spite of the risks, and until the risks are shown to outweigh the benefits. To this end, nuclear power is our only viable source for the near and foreseeable future. We must strive on to develop completely safe nuclear power for the good of our environment and the betterment of our children’s and our children’s children’s future.
Yesterday, I wrote a blog complaining how the clowns in the government in Japan wanted to raise sales tax from the current 5% to 8% – in the middle of some of the worst economic conditions and after the worst natural disaster in Japan’s history. It was one of the few blog posts that I had written recently that readers completely agreed with. In Japan’s Tax-At-All-Costs Political Class, I wrote:
As usual, when it comes to doing something about the economy, the government cannot admit its errors and try to strip them away. As is the case now, and has always been the case, the government of Japan’s answer to financial problems is not to cut spending – or to sell poorly valued and foolishly bought US government backed securities (that lose value every day), but the answer is, and always will be, to spend and raise taxes.
Well, here’s a story from the USA that takes the cake. It’s about how idiots in government are spending $75,000 in tax monies on a campaign to puts Super-hero capes on the unemployed. Residents of Central Florida can win cash prizes if they follow the unemployment office’s Twitter or Facebook account.
Adventures of Unemployed Man?
What’s next? “Horror Stories of Homelessness Man?”
How’s that for putting a dent in unemployment? They start a Social Network service and give out cash prizes like a lottery to winners.
How in the world is that going to help unemployment!?
From Raw Story:
The jobs agency plans to distribute the superhero capes to residents taking part in the agency’s “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” by trying to vanquish “Dr. Evil Unemployment.”
From the Daily Bail:
Before you do anything else watch this idiotic video that was financed completely by tax dollars…
WCF or Workforce Central Florida gets $24 million annually from federal taxpayers and accomplishes virtually nothing based on their own statistics.
Residents of central Florida can win a cape by becoming a Workforce Central Florida fan on Facebook, taking a Facebook quiz, having a photo taken with a foam cutout of Dr. Evil Unemployment, tweeting a job posting, or using LinkedIn to recommend someone using the word “super.”
The boss of the unemployment campaign in question defended the campaign, saying it will spread the agency’s message. The capes, she said, are a direct tie-in to the larger effort.
“Some people will wear them, and others will ask ‘How do I get one?’” she said.
“Everyone,” she said, “is a superhero in the fight against unemployment.”
This is just one more example – in a long line of millions – trillions – that will never end that show how the government wastes money. Remember, whether it is idiocy like this, doing “something” about the economy or helping the poor or suffering, the government will always waste money and make the situation worse. History proves it.
Then on top of that, they take their cut of the monies for salaries and vacations all the while giving no bid contracts to their friends. I wonder if they had a fair bidding process for the job to manufacture $25,000 worth of Super-Hero capes?
I’ll bet you a huge office full of glazed donuts for unemployed workers that they didn’t.
“Everyone is a Superhero in the fight against unemployment?” Indeed….
After two rough days of editing, our documentary about the relief trip to Ishinomaki is finally finished. I am very proud of this work and think it is a very heavy and gripping story.
A documentary film about Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture one of the hardest hit areas of the March 11, 2011 tsunami. This documentary deals with the city, the people and relief efforts completed by individuals living in Tokyo to send relief supplies to a center for disabled people in Ishinomaki.
I thank Ken Nishikawa for the great effort at editing this video and believe this is the finest project I have ever worked on.
I hope you enjoy it.
The entire Flyjin phenomenon continues.
Yesterday, once again, I got an email from a person who ran from Tokyo during the early days of the nuclear accident. Those were the days of sketchy information yet all the experts were saying that Tokyo was not in danger as opposed to the sensationalist newspapers who spoke of nuclear explosions and other physically impossible nonsense. Those were also the days that the Japanese government, in accordance with IAEA guidelines, set a 30 kilometer exclusion zone. Meanwhile, the USA government panicked and set the evacuation for 80 kilometers to much criticism from Japan and US citizens alike. (The US later apologized and admitted that the 80 kilometer exclusion zone was way over done.)
Still, even with that 80 kilometer zone, Tokyo is another 150 kilometers outside of that… Yet people panicked and ran. The US embassy even evacuated people from Nagoya which is 680 kilometers (about 400 miles from Fukushima). I wrote about how that contributed to the panic in US Embassy Japan + Nuclear Accident = Scandal whereby I also quoted a US Embassy insider who wrote:
“How some of the panic started despite the evidence. The US Ambassador to Japan chaired a Town Hall meeting on the 15th of March. It was poorly executed with little real information and uncomfortable disclosures such as weak contingency plans for evacuation (eg travel vouchers were indicated in the initial plan) and poor planning (eg they admitted a shortage of Potassium Iodate pills). People on The Compound (US embassy grounds) were nervous for good reason.
“The second Town Hall meeting on the 16th of March was much more successful. The Ambassador was able to confidently indicate there was no real danger for Tokyo residents even in a worst case scenario and this was backed with the qualified opinion of over 30 US nuclear disaster experts who had flown to Japan. Also, they announced installation of the Compound’s own radiation monitor which indicated levels were within very acceptable limits.
“However it did not help that during this time, the Political Minister Counselor Robert S. Luke made quiet arrangements for his family to be evacuated. Of course this leaked. His wife even posted it on her blog. Duh! Therefore many families felt that if the Lukes were evacuating, something must be up. And pressure on the Ambassador’s office increased accordingly. Hence, I believe, they caved with a voluntary evacuation plan for Embassy staff and dependents. And, since the Ambassador indicated a consistent policy for American citizens, this new offer.. needed to be extended to US civilians and military dependents…at cost (Embassy dependents fly free). What’s even more ridiculous was that the offer of voluntary evacuation was extended to employees at the US Consulate in Nagoya. Next on the list: Seoul, HK, Taipei, Canberra?
But I digress. The reader who wrote to me yesterday claims that:
“I didn’t panic. I didn’t run. I made a logical decision. Now that the Fukushima reactor disaster has ben (sic) raised to a level seven, this only proves that I was right in fleeing Tokyo when I did. I didn’t come back until things calmed down and now, to be attacked for making a calm, logical decision by people like you is outrageous.”
Can you see the ridiculous fallacy in his logic? I ask; “If Fukushima being raised to a level seven proves that you were right in guessing that you should leave, then, when you now have factual information in your hands, why are you still here in Tokyo? Using your very own reasoning you should be on the first plane out.
Now that would be consistent, logical action.
But no. I should expect consistent logical action from people who panic. A state of panic is not conducive to consistent, logical thinking or actions. Now excuses and apologists are everywhere.
My biggest issue, once again, is a moral one for those who ran away. That is: What kind of person panics and runs away and leaves their homes, friends, co-workers and those people’s families and children holding the bag? That is the big issue here. It is a question f morality.
Another reader, Scott M, contributes to the conversation:
You have an interest in the whole flyjin phenom and the deeper motivations that cause people to stay or run etc. In that general vein, I thought you might be interested in the quote below, from an article about Swedish novelist and adventurer Henning Mankell, who spent years living in the middle of a long, bloody civil war in Mozambique. Here’s a paragraph from the article (Entertainment Weekly magazine, April 2011):
“Eventually, Mankell’s thirst for experience brought him to Africa. He was so taken by the trip that he kept going back, and for the past 25 years he’s spent half his time in Maputo, Mozambique, helping run the Teatro Avenida, a theater that puts on plays like Ibsen’s ‘The Doll House’ for locals who often can’t read or write. Mankell was in Maputo during the country’s horrific civil war, which raged from 1977 to 1992. “It was terrifying,” he says. “I can’t talk about it, it was so bad. There was a lack of food, a lack of everything. Every day there were new attacks. People were dying, cut to pieces. Everyone in Maputo had at least one relative who had been killed. But my friends, the people at the theater; they couldn’t run away. I really felt, what kind of a person am I if I leave?”
I do understand that you would hardly want to compare JAPAN to AFRICAN civil war situation, especially since the focus of your blog is to reassure people that things are pretty much fine. But still, I thought it was an interesting commentary on your parallel side topic, the flyjin. Use or not as you wish.
Thanks Scott. That’s it in a nutshell in my opinion. You don’t run out on people in their time of need.
It doesn’t matter if it is the BP oil disaster, Hurricane Katrina, an earthquake, a tsunami or Fukushima… It takes a special kind of person with a special kind of shame who can run out before it is seen to it that women and children are safe….
Call me old fashioned. I don’t care. I think it really takes a special kind of person to run away when they are hundreds of miles from the disaster area. The word for that is nothing less than “shameless coward”.
NOTE: Scott C. Also mentions that his son is a musician and asks that I put up his son’s latest video. Of course I will. I am always happy to see a young person – especially in this day and age – who has a song in their heart and something they want to say… Compare that with 99% of the others who are happy with just a part time McJob. Nice video. Check it out:
Colin Meredith – Understand
Everyday, more and more stories of terrible suffering and deaths have come to my knowledge about the earthquake and resulting tsunami of March 11, 2011.
I am writing about these things because I feel that the people of the world need to know about the real tragedy here.
It has now been reported in Japanese media about how 80 elementary school students – who had evacuated their school to a designated evacuation area died when the tsunami suddenly came upon them and washed them away.
I can’t help but the cry about this. I cannot stop the images going over and over in my head of poor 5~6-year old little boys and girls (up to 12-year-olds) crying in stark fear and panic as the ocean engulfed them. They followed the directions of their teachers and stood out on open ground fearing the earthquake. Little did they know that the tsunami was coming. The waves of the tsunami, by the way, reached up to the second floor of the school building. That’s about 2.1 meters (nearly eight feet) into the air.
There was no where for them to run and no where for them to hide.
Oh, how they must have suffered and cried for their parents. What a terrible horror this must have been.
I pray to God for these children and their parents. I’m sure they are in heaven. In a place where there is no pain and they can be happy.
Aftermath at Ishinomaki Okawa Public Elementary School
My friend’s and I made a trip to Ishinomaki the other day to bring relief supplies to the handicapped and to the aged. So can see photos of the devastation here in Japan’s True Ground Zero – Not Nuclear Power Plants.
I will never forget that trip to Ishinomaki and still haven’t be able to grasp and comprehend everything I saw and the extent of the destruction and misery and pain.
I probably never will.
Original News Stories:
Obama has announced that he is running for president in 2012. What does this have to do with the news and other BS regarding Japan’s nuclear accident and sensationalism?
A lot, actually.
You are the target.
People who do not work in the mass media do not understand what kind of nonsense passes for news and truth in today’s twisted media. Please understand that the news segment you saw on TV is not created by a seasoned and experienced TV producer who is concerned about the truth or the public good, but it is created by a 26-year-old producer who is concerned about controversy and ratings.
Climbing the ladder to main stream corporate schlock is the ultimate goal for these people; telling the truth is not.
Just as the media reported nonsense like the nuclear accident in Japan was the “next Chernobyl” or that “Northern Japan would be uninhabitable,” Obama promised, “Change that you can believe in.”
When the fact of the matter is that there is no difference between an Obama and a Bush. The problem is not a personality, it is a problem of a system.
Think about it: The American Empire…. Compare that with the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire had Caesar, Caligula, Nero, Augustus and more… They had different emperors, yet, ultimately, it was still the Roman Empire.
The USA had Lincoln, Roosevelt, Clinton, Bush and Obama and yet it is still the US Empire.
I’ve even had friends who have worked in the mass media for years tell me that they thought Obama would be different.
What fools. Same old. Same old.
Today is a wonderful time to begin to live for today. Let’s try to give up our guilt feelings and our hate and anger. Let’s give up our attachments and surrender our sins. Let’s drop our defensiveness and our masks. Let’s go back in time to when we were more pure at heart.
Live. Let’s really live for today.
Thomas Aquinas put it nicely when he said, “Every time someone sins, they’re sinning under the guise of good even though they know it’s bad; they’re rationalizing because they’re seeking something under the pretext of good.”
As Anthony De Mello wrote in Awareness:
“Charity is never so lovely as when one has lost consciousness that one is practicing charity. ‘You mean I helped you? I was enjoying myself. I was just doing my dance. I helped you, that’s wonderful. Congratulations to you. No credit to me.”
Kabukicho crossing in Shinjuku
Last night I went through Shibuya and Shinjuku. I rode the subway, the JR and the Keio line from Shinjuku for the first time in at least 20 some years.
It was like a time trip. It brought back good memories.
One more thing brought back good memories; as I rode the trains and walked the stations, I saw very few foreigners. In fact, I’d guess that I didn’t see more than 5 foreigners on the entire trip. Why that brings back memories is that that is because it was the way it used to be; you rarely saw foreigners.
I remember a time when I walked down Center Street in Shibuya and people stared at me and whispered, “There’s a foreigner.” That was back in January of 1979. Those were the days when, in Japan, you were a star just because you were a foreigner.
How silly we all were. I was such a fool. And, as a young man, I loved playing the fool.
It felt strange last night to stand at the Japan Rail (JR) platform at Shibuya and Shinjuku and not see one single other foreigner standing around the platform and I even looked for them.
I hate to admit it, but it felt fine.
I felt like a 20-year-old once again as, in the early to mid-eighties, that’s what it was like in those days: very few foreigners; you had to look for them to see them. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I thought that little boy in the train walked up to me and stared at me out of curiosity.
If you want to take a time trip in Tokyo then you can do it today. Throw away your preconceptions and live for the now. See what is around you and notice what is different today than yesterday.
If you’ve been in Japan a long time, then look around. Really look around. Take this opportunity that we have been given to, if even for a moment, go back to a younger time.
This moment is fleeting. We rarely get a chance to go back in time. Catch it today and live it while you can.
If you have recently done wrong or felt guilty because of your actions, or you want to help, don’t talk about it. Say nothing and do it. Do it for yourself. Don’t do it for other people or to gain glory.
Could there be any greater glory than being happy and living in the now and being and doing “happy”?
If you need help, then say it. There’s far too many who are willing to offer advice and yet, far too few who are willing to actually get off the couch and help and lend a hand.
The best advice is no advice and the best charity is the charity that one does for fun. The happiest people admit their sins and drop their chains.
“There’s no begging bowl in a true community. There’s no clinging, no anxiety, no fear, no hangover, no possessiveness, no demands. Free people form community, not slaves…” - Anthony De Mello
Here’s at typical conversation with a foreigner who tried to convince me – and anyone who will listen – that even though he ran away during the early days of the Fukushima incident, that he believes he did not shirk his duties when he ran away from Tokyo (as if it matters what I think). I think the assertion is absolutely absurd. I also can’t believe that this person really thinks that way either.
I believe that this kind of justification and immature rationalization is pretty common. It is not the sign of good mental health and well-being and shows a person being unable to rectify their actions with the image of who & what they perceive themselves to be.
The bottom line is that it is denial.
I won’t name this person. Why should I? Since he is far from admitting his error, I will spare him public embarrassment. I gather that, from his mail – on a Sunday morning no less – that he is under pressure for his recent foolishness and might lose his job. Perhaps he should.
I would have fired him.
This person actually has something like this on his online bio (I’m paraphrasing to protect his identity): “I work with corporate clients in preparing executive teams and training them on how to handle crisis preparation and the implementation of that preparation.”
What a laugh. He claims that he trains people for crisis management yet, he panicked and left? Now he is trying to spin and do damage control?
This is completely a case of “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.”
I imagine that these sorts of people believe themselves to be responsible, logical adults. Their recent actions destroy that belief in their hearts – and they know it - and they are desperately trying to convince everyone – in an effort to convince themselves – that it’s all okay. They won’t soon recover.
Just like a drug addict must first admit that they have a problem before they can recover – these people will probably have to admit that they screwed up or panicked as they feared for their lives.
Here’s what people must understand: You are all selfish assholes. I am a selfish asshole. We are all selfish assholes. Humans are selfish assholes. We do nothing in the spirit of altruism. Altruism does not exist. Nearly all compassionate and kind acts are related to self-interest.
Realize that and accept it. Get off your cloud.
As I posted in Wakeup! Why I Don’t Worry and You Shouldn’t Either when describing the book “Awareness”:
“They (most people) never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call the human existence. You know, all the mystics – Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion – are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.”
The book goes on to discuss the feelings of fear, hate, distrust, anger, love and addiction. It goes on to ask that the reader, whenever they are feeling these emotions, do an exercise and try to view themselves – and their life – from outside of their own bodies as if they were watching a movie.
When you watch a movie and see two people fighting and getting angry or emotional, you do not get so riled up and involved. It is, after all, just a movie. As a movie, then, you can observe with a detachment that is very beneficial to your spirit. But, when you do not detach, when you are one of the people who is doing the fighting, then you become attached and engulfed and emotions such as anger, hate and fear cloud your thinking.”
I then made the point that staying calm and trying to view events from a different perspective is the first step towards calm and wise decision making:
Of course we must make calm and logical decisions on how to protect ourselves and make sure our loved ones are safe, right? Exactly! And that is the point of this essay. How can one make calm and level-headed decisions while being swallowed up by unfounded fears and panic?
The best decisions are the ones made in a cool and collected frame of mind; not when your animal and primitive fears kick in for a fight or flight response. I’ve always admired people who are wise, silent and calm. Think about that again, when do people make rash decisions? When they are emotional. Being in a state of agitated emotions is not conducive to making logical – nor wise – decisions.
Is there anyone who can argue this point?
You are a selfish jerk. So am I. So is everyone else. The difference? Some people are trying everyday to be mature enough (I hope I am) to admit it and are trying everyday to climb that mountain of truth to get closer to God: This guy who is trying to convince me that he did no wrong, on the other hand, is still trying to hold onto these false idols that he has identified himself with; A false idol that he has damaged or destroyed by his own actions.
You are not that respectable, responsible businessman you thought you were. When fear struck your heart, you ran like a small child.
Don’t expect me to forgive you, even if I wanted to or even if I could. And why do you want me to forgive you? It doesn’t matter what I think. It only matters what you think.
Your being comes from the innermost of your heart – not the act you do or the mask you wear at work everyday.
The guy who, for some inexplicable reason, wants me to forgive me wrote:
“You know, Mike, you and I have been here about the same amount of time. I first came here in 1982 and started living here in 1987. Been here since. I my 25 years, I never left Japan during an earthquake or tsunami. But I chose to leave two days after the Fukishima quake. Sea water being dumped on overheating reactors, no transparency from TEPCO, reactive (vs. proactive) responses….I made my choice to leave for a couple weeks. What is wrong with that? I dislike grouping ALL people who left in the “panic” category. I did not panic. I used my mind and made the choice to leave. And lumping ALL journalists as sensationalist for reporting what was happening is nonsense.”
Do you read or write Japanese? Did you get your news from NHK? Where do you get the idea that I lumped all journalists as sensationalist? That’s simply not true. The problem: As an executive at your company, did you run away while expecting your Japanese staff to stay on and work? Or did you do the responsible thing and at least tell them to go home and care for their families? I suspect the former. You can try to convince me all you want of the rationality of your actions, I am not your judge. You need to convince your staff. How long have you been at your current position? 3 months? Excellent management shows leadership and risk management and assessment abilities. Did you?”
He skirted the questions and responded with:
“This has nothing to do with one’s employer, let alone one’s skill set or even one’s job. It is/was an individual choice based on many things including perceived safety and risk to one’s health. End of story.”
Once again, I gave him examples. I wrote:
Here are examples of good leaders and bad in Tokyo Crisis Update: Nuclear Meltdown, Drama Queens and Coca-Cola: http://bit.ly/evSGIE
If you do not fulfill these requirements, you should resign. But, maybe not… (Your company) has run away from Japan three times already… This just shows the quality of the company… And why should the company and her employees aspire to be better than their leaders? I’m not the one who needs to do the soul-searching here, my friend. ”
Again, his response fails to address the issues and blows smoke:
“You are certainly talking a lot of risks with things you do not know, Mike. I would love to come on your radio show and have a chat…..”
Now he is kissing my a*s. I wrote:
“Please! Let’s tell the truth. You made no judgements on risk. How could you have? You panicked! How many people died at Three Mile Island? Zero. On the morning of Monday the 14th, Fukushima was still listed as a level 4 crisis. Three Mile was level 5 and the Japanese system for safety level of radiation is almost 30% lower than what is used in the west. Admit it to yourself that you did zero research to get facts. Three Mile Island was evacuated for 10 miles around that plant. Fukushima was 18 miles! And we in Tokyo are upwind 150 miles from Fukushima!
Dealing with people using facts and logic is unfair when they are dealing with emotions, I know. Finally, since he realized he couldn’t get sympathy or favor from me (why does he need that anyway?) He wrote:
What a useless wimp. Here, by the way, is a Talking Points Memo article that contradicts his timeline. I guess it’s not so hard to contradict the memory of someone in a panic. Panic, as we have seen over and over, does not lead to good decisions. Just as great ideas when you are high or stoned are usually not great ideas the next day when you are sober.
Ultimately, that these people continually go on public forums and try to defend their actions is proof that they know in their hearts that they failed us, Japan and themselves. Think about it: When someone fails or betrays you; when they run away from you without talking to you first; do you accept an apology from them on a public forum, or do you wish for them to come see you and look you straight into the eyes and apologize and show some sincerity and try to make amends?
Who doesn’t expect those who have transgressed to do the difficult part and apologize in person? No self-respecting person would accept anything less, either.
No mature adult would think they could get away with anything less.
Ultimately, those who ran away can turn this into a positive growing experience and admit they were wrong or they can continue with their immaturity and try to hide their shame. Which do you think is psychologically healthier? It is obvious that this guy, since he is easily over 50, will not take the spiritual growth route.
One would have hoped he had done that in High School.
Here is some excellent commentary from Linkedin from a guy named David K. who is an executive in Japan:
I am a believer that people should be evaluated for their 360 degree leadership credentials, not fired upon them. However, should they disappear when a crisis arises, I don’t believe they should be in the leadership function as their actions affect not only their families, but also the families of all staff they are managing. (emphasis mine)
It is my firm belief that some of the best Japanese and ex-pat managers in all industries are here, right now, rebuilding. Some great expat managers who left during the height of the crisis have taken their families back home and already returned. As long as the latter managers communicated well with their staff, they will re-integrate well with the organization.
Many companies with a blend of Japanese and international staff who have kept their entire management structure in place throughout this ordeal will prosper heavily. Those with dismantled and non-trusting structures will suffer quite heavily as they unknowingly put the wrong people into positions of leadership. Now they know. It’s not a question of how perfect a candidates credentials are when you hire him/her that matters, it’s much more a question of how thorough your candidate vetting process is that determines whether your organization deserves to sink or swim when a true crisis hits. We’re seeing this now and we’ll see it many more times before retirement finally kicks in.
I completely agree.
Last night we held a charity concert in Shibuya and it was a smash success. Thanks to all who attended, performed and contributed. I do appreciate it.
A photo of me after counting the proceeds for the Ishinomaki relief trip: ¥88,491!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I am awaiting the exact totals of the donations for the Japan Red Cross but for the relief caravan to Sunnet Hagomi (facility for the disabled) in Ishinomaki. See here (sorry Japanese language only!): http://www.wam.go.jp/wamappl/hyoka/003hyoka/hyokekka2.nsf/aOpen?OpenAgent&JNO=0400000006&SVC=0001265 We were able to collect ¥88,491 to help pay for the rental of a two-ton truck and to pay for gas expenses and supplies.
Sunnet Hagomi handles support for all disabled and aged in their area and will receive our supplies and then distribute them to the needy from there. Timo Budow has arranged everything with the police for road clearance and made the arrangements with Sunnet Hagomi.
I also want to thank Mr. DiMuzio and the great folks at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo for helping us to make our relief trip a successful endeavor.
We will be bringing these supplies to Sunnet Hagomi:
For kids: cellophane tape, gum tape, magic markers, pens, color pencils, crayons, paper, scissors, stationery items.
For adults: shoes , long boots, rain boots, etc.
We will also be bringing along a supply of diapers for children and adults.
I will have more information, a report and a documentary video about our trip to Ishinomaki next week.
Once again, thanks from the bottom of my heart to all who have pitched in.
Here is the information about the show last night:
George Williams, Taro Furukawa and I will be hosting a charity concert for the benefit of the people who have suffered during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami crisis. This is in cooperation with BAM! (Monday ~ Friday nights from 9 pm ~ 11 pm on 76.1 InterFM) and the good folks at InterFM along with the venue and the bands. Entrance is free and it going to be a lot of fun and we get to help out. 100% of the proceeds will go to Red Cross Japan and I hope to raise an extra ¥50,000 to help finance a DIY relief supplies mission (pay for truck rental and gasoline) to Ishinomaki on April 8, 2011.
Everyone is welcomed. The entrance is free. Donations boxes will be inside.
Today! Sunday 4/3 Doors open at 4 pm Start 5 pm @ Shibuya The Game
Shibuya The Game: http://www.shibuyathegame.com/SHOPINFO
Entrance is free!!!! Thanks to 76.1 InterFM!