Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a Japanese Wendell Potter

Dr. Masashi Goto, a former Toshiba employee specializing in containment vessel design appears to be very busy providing clearer explanation about the ongoing crisis of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant than the authorities and Tepco are doing. He is not necessarily anti-nuke, but joining the Citizen's Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), who urges abolition of all the nuclear power plants. Almost every evening the CNIC broadcast his analysis on Ustream and thousands of people watch it. A group of the Diet members invited him to give them a lecture on the crisis. He also appears in the mainstream media. This CNIC's video provides English translation:


Regarding the fact that few engineers are opening the mouth, he might be courageous. I could compare him to Wendell Potter, former executive at CIGNA and Humana who eventually turned to be a prominent advocate of the American healthcare reform.

I admire Dr. Goto, but I see some problems. I watched a TV show he was appearing. What problematic I felt was that many asked "what we should do." I thought they were not asking the right questions. Experts can explain what is going on, but it is us who have to think what to do.

The other thing I can glimpse is that engineers and economists are more trusted than environmentalists and the other kind of intellectuals in Japan. Of course we need experts, but we still have to think.

Friday, March 25, 2011

the workers at the nuclear plants

This was broadcast by Channel 4 in 1995. In the 1990s the Japanese journalist and producer first made this for NHK, but NHK apparently refused to broadcast, I was told.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

by the way

By the way, it was GE who built this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

so, who are panicking now?

As those several countries repeatedly conducted nuclear weapons testings during the Cold War, we were frequently exposed to radiation at the similar level we at this moment have in Tokyo, NHK says. I'm working at home in Tokyo and also checking the news from various sources: NHK, BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and so forth. Many appear to be tweeting: "We are evacuating from Tokyo." On the other hand, life seems to go on as usual for many. Someone says that the foreign media are sensationalizing this nuke problem while Japanese media are downplaying, and that makes her paranoid.

BBC reports:

0743: Livy Bell in Kojimachi, Tokyo writes: "I think the Japanese government, amongst other nations, has absolutely failed in educating the public about nuclear power. Most of the population has no idea how nuclear power plants work, what safety measures are in place, what the radiation risks are and what practical implications these risks have. If they'd bothered to inform the public ahead of time, there wouldn't be this much panic." Have Your Say

Really? Are those panicking Japanese? Are people in the other countries more educated? I don't know. What I know is that there is nothing I can do, and if things get much worse, I have to do what the experts tell us. Fingers crossed until those an anonymous Jack Bauer (we are less informed about how the workers at the plants are working, or under how dangerous conditions they are working) stabilizes that thing. The Guardian quotes:

9.25am: In the comments thread DarxFartz and dchart, both in Japan, are disputing reports that areas of the country are "panic swept" amid worries over the Fukushima Daiichi power plant:

From DarxFartz:

I'm an ex-pat living in Tokyo and reading scare-mongering stories from Reuters about "panic" are not really helping the situation. On the whole, everyone here is staying remarkably calm in a very stressful situation, and this is just irresponsible journalism.

Japan has just had a huge earthquake and tsunami with 10s of thousands missing, presumed dead, plus there is a f**cking nuclear power station on fire ! Isn't that enough drama for Reuters ?

Yes, there is "panic buying", but on the whole people are remaining calm and vigilant. The last thing Japan needs right now is media-induced hysteria.

I'd really appreciate the facts as there is lot of real emotion going on.

Every 1st grader in Japan knows nuclear power is dangerous. At middle school everyone learns what radiation is. For some people who know the history Japan experienced the atomic bombs, the fact that the nuclear power plants generate a third of electricity this country needs may sound strange. The thing, I think, is that there has been no substantial public debate over whether or not to build such many plants, and people have been at the mercy of technocrats and big companies. But I don't want to go further at this moment.

After the BP oil spill broke out, Slavoj Žižek criticized those companies and the officials, even Obama included, blaming each other, and argued the devastation was huge so it was time for rethink about the way of living fundamentally. And I think this is very much the case for this disaster we are currently facing. NHK World yesterday repeatedly said that this nuke problem was the result of nature surpassing man's best effort. Yes and no, I think. I'm not interested in a question whether EDF is better than TEPCO anyway.

TEPCO is clearly having a serious public relations problem at this moment. Even NHK is criticizing it. Though I agree that the companies and the government's policies should be questioned, I think we should think beyond that.

By the way, at this moment I don't feel to write about the earthquake itself, the tsunami, and the victims, much less making music from this devastation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Diderot's Clock Man (new release)

Electronic Musik, the UK-based net label run by Ian Simpson has released my new pieces (free download here).

1. Beating an Un-dead Horse (6'07")/2. From the Ridgeline (4'39")/3. Interlude (1'37")/4. Diderot's Clock Man (1'58")/5. Slow Blues (8'44")

Here is an excerpt from Denis Diderot's 1751 essay Lettre sur les sourds et muets, which is translated into English by Margaret Jourdain, the title's reference.

If I had to explain this system of the human understanding to one who found it difficult to grasp abstract ideas, I should say, "Consider man as a walking clock; the heart as its mainspring, the contents of the thorax as the principal parts of the works; look on the head as a bell furnished with little hammers attached to an infinite number of threads which are carried to all corners of the clock-case. Fix upon the bell one of those little figures with which we ornament the top of our clocks, and let it listen, like a musician who listens to see if his instrument is in tune: this little figure is the soul. If many of these little threads are pulled at once, the bell will be struck several times, and the little figure will hear several notes simultaneously. Imagine that there are some of these threads that are always being pulled; and just as we only notice the noise of Paris by day when it ceases at night, we shall be unconscious of some sensations which are continuous, such as of our existence. The mind, especially in health, is unconscious of its own existence, unless it deliberately examines itself. When we are well, we are unconscious of any part of our body; and if any part draws attention to itself by pain, we are certainly not well; and if it is by a pleasurable sensation, it is by no means certain that we are the better for it."

I could pursue my analogy still further, and add that the sounds produced by the bell do not die away at once, but have some duration; that they produce chords with the sounds that follow, and the little figure that listens compares them, and pronounces them harmonious or dissonant; that memory, which we need to form opinions and to speak, is the resonance of the bell; the judgement, the formation of chords; and speech, a succession of chords. It is not without reason that some brains are said to be "cracked," like a bell. And is not the law, which is so necessary in a series of harmonies, of having at least one note common to the chord and that following it, also applicable? Does not this common note resemble the middle term of a syllogism? And what else is the likeness we observe in certain minds but the result of some freak of nature by which two intervals are marked, one a fifth and the other a third, in relation to another note? By this fertile analogy, and with all the madness of Pythagoras, I might demonstrate the wisdom of that Scythian law which prescribed one friend as a necessity, permitted two, and forbade three. Among the Scythians, I might say, a man was "out of tune" if the note which he gave forth found no harmonic among his fellow-men three friends would make a perfect accord; while a fourth superadded would be but a repetition of one of the former three, or would introduce a discordant note.

-Denis Diderot, Diderot's Early Philosophical Work, Ayer Publishing, 1972, p.p. 185-6

i'm fine

I'm in Tokyo and fine, worried about the casualty in the northern area and the nuclear power plants(no leaks so far). We are still feeling aftershocks. I'm watching Al Jazeera English reporting this earthquake. It reports that an oil refinery near Tokyo got fire, and it looks as if Gaddafi bombed it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

we are 'prosumers'

I'm reading Brian Holmes's essay The Flexible Personality. These days we are not simply consuming. we are not alienated from the process of production. Holmes calls us "prosumer." I think this is very much the case for those who are making music.