Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously. She is committed: to preventing war, ecological disaster, and nuclear apocalypse; to keeping information available and free; and to not only fighting for personal privacy, but, by representing herself as a soldier in that fight, to exhorting others to do the same. All these efforts find representation on her blog "ah, Mephistophelis," so named after the last line of Chirstopher Marlowe's in his famous Dr. Faustus, which, as some would have it, successfully flouted the censor for a time. A female Faust, she is a poet, always.

Japanese Nuclear Crisis: How Bad Is It?

Context -- some background information -- is certainly needed for articles such as Florida Oil Spill Law's Radiation around Fukushima nearing levels where “humans vomit uncontrollably” and “hair can be stripped from the body” -- but don't blame FOSL, they were trying to give context.  The problem is that their source, UK's The Sun (Nuke Cloud Crisis), is not a trustworthy one (in my opinion); they are leveraging the fact that we want context, that we want understanding, into more 'hits' or reader popularity (think NY Post). At the same time, and also for 'hits', The Sun is deploying the scare factor, and giving no context to back it up.  That's right, no context or external standard, no sieverts or rems.  

This may result in unnecessary freaking out.

May I offer, as an antidote and prophylaxis, some much needed comparison and context so we can see exactly how scary this is.  This is the best explication of context I so far have found (more on that below): Japanese Reactor Radiation - The Numbers --- the author (a rocket scientist, according to the profile) analyzes "The radiation at the perimeter of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, otherwise known as Ground Zero" (I'm assuming this is reactor #3) :

About 1800 times normal. Stand there for a year, and you'd get your annual dose for a radiation worker. Do it for a week, and you'd get the annual dose for a civilian. Not too bad so far.

But look at Monitoring station 2. That's over 10 times more. More concerning, the trend is increasing. That means radioactive material is slowly leaking from the containment vessels, in amounts certainly indicative of severe damage to the rods - a partial meltdown - and maybe even the far more severe meltdown, involving about half the fuel, found in 3-mile island. Since the reactors are now poisoned, very little additional fission should be occurring, yet external levels are still rising. That suggests a more severe meltdown, and a consequently a longer cooling-off period.

Reactor #1 might not be the culprit. I think it's worse than that, it's dead, Jim. Moving towards room temperature. An ex-reactor. Bereft of fission, it rusts in pieces. Reactor #3, the one which burns a plutonium-uranium mix, and is nearly twice the size, that might have really gone pear-shaped. 

I could be wrong here, I'm working off limited information. 

(Read more)

So there you have it.  Don't get me wrong, FOSL (Florida Oil Spill Law) is a fantastic source. I recommend them. Being thus misled, as above, is not common (even though it happens from time to time), and they have quickly become my top news aggregator during this serious crisis.  As they continue to be for news regarding the Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster and its unfolding consequences.  Check them out.  Tell your friends,  especially if they, like mine, are freaking out.  (Hey, if you want feedback, join the forum, there are good people there).

But A.E. Brain has been the first to provide, more intelligibly than Wikipedia for this freaking out child of the cold war, the background information we so desperately need.  I need.  You need.  Read it.  I'm going to go read it again, myself.

Be seeing you.


  1. Whoa! What do you mean the Sun isn't trustworthy? Everything important about the news can be found on Page 3. :)

  2. You are right, this isn't nearly as dangerous as a lot of other bullshit that is going on day-in-and-day-out all around everyone, BUT it is also-

    Total obfuscating, pandering, scientific gobbledygook, garbage-in garbage out mental flatulence not worth airing.

    As reasoning creatures (if just barely) all our logical intellectual-confidence is entirely dependent upon and 100% solely reliant upon our stupid self-sense of ah ha! familiarity with the subject matter.

    And that is ultimately just a load of crap, like I just read here.

    You are no philosopher. You are another of many familiar billboards for human idiocy on parade.

    You give all the scientific idiots an emboldened sense of confidence that what they are doing to the world is A-Okay.

    You should be cracked over the head with a fuel rod.

    Don Robertson
    Limestone, Maine

  3. There's this story out of Pravda:

    "12.03.2011 | Source:

    AP photoThere can be no Chernobyl-like disaster at the nuclear plant in Japan, "since there is no graphite there, so there is nothing to burn there," a Russian academician said.

    Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, from Kurchatovsky Institute think tank, said that at Fukushima-1 plant in Japan there were pressurized water-cooled reactors of Japanese production. The academician withheld further comments about the current situation at the Japanese nuclear power plant because there is very little professional information on the subject.

    According to most recent information, the breakdown occurred because of the complete loss of electric supplies as a result of the earthquake. The cooling system in the reactor zone went out of order, and the reactor began to heat up.

    Yaroslav Shtrombach, first deputy director of Kurchatovsky Institute, stated that it was "a very unpleasant occurrence." "But I think that that it will all be limited to the site of the accident only and there will be no larger catastrophe, if professional measures are taken, of course," the scientist said.

    "At Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, they use BWR reactors - boiling water reactors. We have no such reactors in Russia, so one can compare the current situation in Japan with the Chernobyl disaster only generally," Shtrombach said.

    According to the scientist, the current situation at the Japanese nuclear plant looks more like the Three Mile accident in the USA. The partial core meltdown at Three Mile Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania occurred on March 28, 1979. It was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 481 PBq (13 million curies) of radioactive gases, but less than 740 GBq (20 curies) of the particularly dangerous iodine-131."

    But, then again, after being lied to for so long and trusting the government, the Russians are now the most skeptical people on earth. Which is probably why I like their scientists.

  4. lemons lemons lemons and kale for you, but i can't reach you.


  5. Dan, I will take my whack anyway, but the author of that opinion was not the same as the sometime philosopher.

    Humbly submitted, in light of the current turn of events.