Thursday, March 31, 2011


The last time I came across this video, it was removed, perhaps for copyright reasons? Anyway there are two now. Well for a wee while at least(?).

Peak Chair Madness

Probably one of the best skiing videos ever...

Breaking news...


"THE MINISTER for Finance will propose a ground-breaking restructuring of the banks today as the results of Central Bank stress tests will signal the virtual nationalisation of the Irish banking sector.

The results are expected to push Irish Life and Permanent and Bank of Ireland into majority Government control, given the cash requirements they will face. The tests assess the ability of the banks to cover losses arising from unanticipated shocks in the economy.

The banks are expected to require a further €18 billion to €23 billion, pushing the cost of bailing out the banks to well in excess of €60 billion.

This will be the fifth attempt to recapitalise the banks, which have so far cost the State €46 billion.

The requirements of the banks may still change given that talks between the Central Bank and the banks were continuing last night.

BlackRock, the consultants hired by the Central Bank to verify the tests, have used mortgage losses in the US state of Nevada, one of the worst-hit in the subprime crisis, to assess Irish losses.

Irish Life and Permanent is expected to require more than €3 billion – about 30 times its market value – to meet worst-case mortgage losses estimated in the tests."

Noonan to propose 'radical' bank sector restructuring - Irish Times

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


via Geekologie

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mr Scruff 1992

Mr Scruff 1992 Hip Hop Mix by Mr Scruff

"This Manchester mix comes from the renowned producer-dj-cartoonist and Ninja Tunes artist Mr Scruff. It’s called the “92 Hip-Hop mix”, and as the title suggests this dates back almost 20 years. It features over 80 tracks of golden age hip-hop and was recorded using two turntables, a mixer, and a cassette deck (with a pause button for edits). Originally sold at the Future Banana record shop in a limited run of 20 tapes, Scruff is still trying to piece together the tracklist from his memory, which is a pretty mammoth task." via DM

Force of Nature

Simply astonishing destruction. Imagine being there. Imagine trying to deal with the aftermath.

how to Have a Rational Discussion

via ThoughtCatalog

Monday, March 28, 2011

Koga Manga


"It was a time when self-expression was distinctly frowned upon. "You had to turn up in a striped shirt with a stiff collar and a plain blue tie. The office was policed by a very fierce manager called Williams, a Scotsman who'd lost his leg in the war. I was quite a cocky lad and in the second week I wore a pale blue shirt, rather than the striped one. He came up to me and said: 'We don't wear pyjamas here sonny. Go home'.""

David Buik: 'These days you have to eat nails for breakfast' - Telegraph

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Radiation and Iodine update

Out of the Shadows Crash Reel

If you don't crash you are not skiing hard enough!

Nuclear Reactors

via the University of Nottingham

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radiohead Fan Speaks Out

2 must sees

First F1 race tomorrow in Melbourne, Vettel's on pole, lots of new tech, new tires, could be a good'un.

Friday, March 25, 2011


via Ritte Beer o'clock!

Give or Take a Few

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beware the Banana

Radiation levels 55% higher than normal. Where's my tinfoil?

via Pro-Dave

Security Announcement

The English in Tokyo are feeling the pinch in relation to recent radiation threats and have therefore raised their personal security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.

Earthquakes have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots usually raise their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels; this is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years. However, due to the special circumstances surrounding this particular situation they introduced an intermediary level of “Let’s get pissed”.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its radiation advice level from "Hide" to "Run." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender" but these are not applicable this time.

Italy’s traditional threat levels of "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing”, "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides” are not relevant either and the Italian restaurants in Tokyo are still open for business.

The Germans traditionally increase their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs" but this time their proximity to the French seems to have had some effect on them.

Australia meanwhile, has raised its response to the perceived threat from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Three more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!","I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend," and "The barbie is canceled”.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes, on all of their
allies, just in case.

New Zealand has also raised its threat levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!".

Due to continuing defense cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "I hope Australia will come and rescue us".

And finally Canada has passed their first level of "No problem eh!?" and are now at the second - "That's not nice and can someone please stop it" threat level, and have passed a bill in their House of Commons to never raise the level any higher so not to offend anyone. Actually, their real reason is that having so few levels means there is little cost involved in changing the levels too often. The only alternative was to buy a used threat level from another country and although the Americans had one for sale, “The British are Coming", this was both confusing and still too expensive.

via The Russian

That was quick

The New York Times paywall is costing the newspaper $40-$50 million to design and construct, Bloomberg has reported.

And it can be defeated through four lines of Javascript.

Read on...

Classical Chicken

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Monday, March 21, 2011


Life Goes On

"While Japan’s crisis overshadowed other news, tensions in the Middle East continued to escalate. Rebel forces in Libya were pushed back to their stronghold city of Benghazi, losing town after town on the way. Gadaffi’s powerful counterattack consisted of armored formations, troops equipped with heavy weaponry and backed by air support. On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. This was followed by Saturday’s assault upon Libya by a coalition consisting of French, U.S. and British forces acting in response to continued attacks on civilians by the Gaddafi regime.

Tensions in the Middle East caused oil prices to climb, with West Texas Intermediate Crude gaining 1.7% and ending the week at $103.24. We have been watching the $105 level as a target for initiating a short position in oil."

via Stock World Weekly

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Friday, March 18, 2011

Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government

[Sir John Beddington] Do we have any concerns now in terms of human health?  Well the answer is yes we do, but only in the immediate vicinity of the reactors.  So the 20 kilometre exclusion zone the Japanese have actually imposed is sensible and proportionate.  If they extended out a little bit more to 30 kms, that is well within the sort of parameters that we would think are extremely safe.

               Let me now talk about what would be a reasonable worst case scenario.  If the Japanese fail to keep the reactors cool and fail to keep the pressure in the containment vessels at an appropriate level, you can get this dramatic word “meltdown”.  But what does that actually mean?

               What a meltdown involves is the basic reactor core melts, and as it melts, nuclear material will fall through to the floor of the container. There it will react with concrete and other materials. Remember this is the reasonable worst case, we don’t think anything worse is going to happen.  In this reasonable worst case you get an explosion.  You get some radioactive material going up to about 500 metres up into the air.  Now, that’s really serious, but it’s serious again for the local area.  It’s not serious for elsewhere; even if you get a combination of that explosion it would only have nuclear material going in to the air up to about 500 metres.  If you then couple that with the worst possible weather situation, i.e. prevailing weather taking radioactive material in the direction of  Greater Tokyo and you had maybe rainfall which would bring the radioactive material down, do we have a problem?  The answer is unequivocally NO.   Absolutely no issue.  The problems are within 30 km of the reactor.

               And to give you a flavour for that, when Chernobyl had a massive fire at the graphite core, material was going up not just 500 metres but to 10,000 metres.  It was lasting not for the odd hour or so but lasted months, and that was putting nuclear radioactive material up into the upper atmosphere for a very long period of time.  But even in the case of Chernobyl, the exclusion zone that they had was about 30 kilometres.   And in that exclusion zone, outside that, there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate people had problems from the radiation.  The problems with Chernobyl were people were continuing to drink the water, continuing to eat vegetables and so on and that was where the problems came from.  That’s not going to be the case here.  So what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond that 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.

               [Hilary Walker]  I just wanted to emphasise what we’ve just been talking is about outside the area it’s not a health problem.  Those of you who are living in Tokyo, you are a long way away from the reactor, and although there have been reports that there have been slightly increased levels of radiation, this is trivial in terms of a health effect.  So we would like to reassure people that well away from the reactor there is not an issue for people living around there

               [Question] There are reports  of higher than normal radiation levels in Tokyo.  I think I saw one report of eight times normal.   What kind of multiple of normal should we be worried about?

               [JB]  [If it is] basically eight times, don’t worry at all, eight times is really nothing.  It’s when it get to a hundred, two hundred, three hundred times that we really have to be concerned.

               [JB] What is seen as the permissible dose?

               [HW] Much higher than what we’re seeing as background, you’re talking almost a hundred times that.

               [Q] Tokyo Metropolitan Government are publishing levels of radioactivity, extremely small in Tokyo as you rightly point out.  I think the scale is micro gray and I don’t expect you to answer this now but it would be useful to get a sort of a figure on what would be acceptable.

               [HW] If you’re talking of micro gray, then you’re talking low levels.
               Very low levels.  No human health issue whatsoever.

               [Q] My own understanding is that the risks remain probably high for perhaps up to 10 days, then they will begin to dissipate. But when can you anticipate that risks begin to dissipate?

               [JB] I want to sort of give some reassurance that even if you had a completely paranoid view that somehow the radiation was being concealed, you can’t do it, it’s monitored throughout the world.  We know we can actually monitor exactly what the radiation levels are around there externally, so it’s just not happening.  There is a degree of concern about whether the Japanese Government are actually giving all the information out, but in fact we are getting information through the international energy agencies and we do have pretty detailed knowledge of what these plants are like.  And we’ve had input in from our health and safety  executive colleagues who know these types of plants from the national nuclear laboratory and the Chief Executive of there  has helped out with the SAGE group, has worked in Japan a few tens of kilometres from this particular site.

               The second question you asked was: How soon can we relax?  Straight answer to that is don’t know. I think you know there are so many uncertainties.  I was slightly surprised that there was an explosion this morning.  I thought that what happened was that a valve that was actually providing sea water for cooling, broke and jammed, and therefore the sea water cooling wasn’t operating in an efficient way.  I presume they’ll be fixing that.  The key is to get water in, get keep the whole thing cool, keep it within a reasonable pressure and we should be ok.  I was asked about the same question, and I said, you know, in around 10 days we may be able to be feeling that nothing [is] much worse... but that is a big if and I really would not want to say anything at this stage in detail.

               [Q] You’ve said that at Chernobyl radioactive material went up to 10,000 metres, but you’ve also said that the worst case scenario here is for it to go up to 500 metres.  Could you just explain why the worst case scenario here is much less than at Chernobyl?

               [JB] Yes, very much so.  In Chernobyl , first of all the top blew off the reactor and then the core of the reactor, the graphite which surrounds the core actually caught fire and burned for a very long time,  so you had very, very, hot fire pushing all the material up in the normal sort of convection processes.  Here, what will happen with the build up of pressure if the radioactive material interacted with the container floor and you would get a single explosion but it would not be a continued explosion.  So that explosion would send material up to about 500 metres would be the sort of level we would expect.  You know, it’s spurious accuracy, it might be 517 or 483 but that’s about it.  And in terms of that, and couple that with weather, we still see absolutely no issue of material being taken at any critical level for human health beyond that 20 kilometres or so.

               [Q] A couple of days ago the Japanese authorities predicted a 70% chance of another aftershock exceeding magnitude 7, and potentially another tsunami.  If that were to happen and the emergency procedures that are taking place now, how does that affect your worst case scenario?

               [JB] I think the worst case scenario would remain.  The issue is basically that if they can’t; if for example, their attempt to cool fails, and if their attempts to keep the pressure in the containment vessel fails, then you would get an explosion.  What I suppose, you know, in a reasonable worst case that that would happen in a single reactor, if you had a massive new influx of tsunami and so on, you move into a sort of relatively low probability event, but you might get more than one. But the point still remains that you would actually have no real concerns even if there were two rather than one explosions. They don’t multiply; it doesn’t mean that it goes up to 1,000 metres or anything like that.  It’s still up to about 500 metres, it still is a relatively short duration and the key thing here also is wind direction.  When does it happen?  If the wind is taking material, is going out into the Pacific, it is not going to be a problem.  It’s the combination, as it were, unhelpful weather, and an explosion that is twice that reasonable worst case scenario.  If you had this sort of second tsunami so that people could not work and actually operate on the core then you would have a problem.  But that would probably mean that you might get all three reactors go up.  But again, I’d emphasise this would not affect the advice we are giving.

               [Q] At the moment the British School is closed and it is a highly sensitive situation as you can appreciate for parents and children as well as staff.  It seems to me that your recommendation is that reasonable action by me is that I should reopen our school within 10 days or so.  Is that correct?

               [JB]  In terms of opening the school there’s absolutely no need to close the school  in terms of anything to do with concerns about radioactive material … but I presume its being closed due to other factors.  Certainly there would be no necessity to close the school on the basis of any form of radiation coming down into the area.

               [Q]   After Chernobyl, some people in other countries got sick.  Why was that if the event would have been contained?

               [HW] The difference here is that we are talking about after Chernobyl there were lots of people in other countries who landed up eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water.  We believe the situation will be very different in Japan where they have extremely well developed plans, and they would be able to ensure that you could not drink contaminated water or eat contaminated food.  They did not suffer from the direct effects of radiation from the accident itself.

               [Q] There’s a lot of concern in the community about the taking of iodine.  At what point should iodine be taken and would you recommend people taking it proactively?

               [Nick Kent] I think I’ll answer it in two ways. The ways you may get exposed to radio iodine are either you inhale volatile radio iodine and that will only happen very close to the nuclear power plant itself, and we certainly do recommend where people are close to a nuclear plant when an accident occurs that they should take stable iodine to block iodine uptake to the thyroid in those circumstances.  But there’s nobody close to the nuclear plant and that’s not a means by which there will be exposure here, and therefore that’s not a reason to take iodine in the case of yourselves living in Tokyo.  The second but most important way that people get exposed to radio iodine is that as the radio iodine settles into the environment, it gets incorporated into crops, it gets taken up into animals and it gets excreted into milk. And the problem in the case of Chernobyl which is where quite a number of cases of thyroid cancer were seen, it is now clear that the exposure pathway in the Russian Federation and Ukraine was ingestion of contaminated food, particularly milk.  Now, we do not envisage the food chain as being an issue for you to take it up, and in any case, to use iodine to protect against the food chain would take long term administration of iodine, which would not be appropriate for other reasons, like the effects that would be on the thyroid.  So I’ll just summarise. You’re not close to the plant so you’re not at an inhalation risk which is the principle use for iodine, and you we do not envisage you getting any radio iodine exposure through the food chain so again you know, no exposure therefore no need to use iodine as a countermeasure.

               [Q]  Under the reasonable case scenario you’ve outlined, what sort of strength of wind would it take actually to carry radioactive material from Fukushima to Tokyo for instance?  Is it just there is no strength of wind possible to do it?  Or it is, are you assuming some kind of wind strength in your reasonable scenario?

               [JB]  No, no. Basically, it just won’t happen.

               [Q]  Contact with people who have been contaminated.

               [HW] Well I guess the issue with contamination will be specific to people who were working on site, and obviously there’ll be decontamination procedures in place for those people.  Outside the 30 kilometre zone we wouldn’t expect contamination to be an issue to cause public health concerns.

               [JB]  The people who are going to get the biggest dose are the people who are actually working on the reactor trying to solve the emergency problem.  They will be completely screened by the Japanese authorities; they will be decontaminated in a whole series of mechanisms which are well understood by the nuclear industry.  The people in the 20 kilometre zone are highly unlikely  to actually have got any serious level of radioactivity. If they, actually the authorities, pick it up I would be very surprised if they do, they will actually do the decontamination.

               [Q] What about rainfall in Tokyo?  You know, is it recommended to stay indoors or wear a hat or anything like that?

               [JB]  Because the height of this thing [explosion] is going to go, you know, 500 metres, even if it explodes and it is nothing like that now. But even in the worst case you’re going to have no issue, if there’s rain it’s going to be actually within that 20, 30 kilometre zone that you would get nuclear material deposited.

               [Q]  You mentioned about contamination of food, I just wondered if there’s any risk of contamination of sea-food?

               [LP]   There is a possibility of that, yes. But the Japanese have very good monitoring programmes in place and they would understand it to be a potential exposure pathway and then sure, before they allowed people to consume seafood, they would provide advice and undertake monitoring.

               [Q] What is a reasonable case scenario, and what would be an unreasonable case scenario?

               [JB] We think the reasonable worst case would be one of the reactors going critical and exploding.  I think the less likely is all three, but it’s not impossible of course, but that would mean that in fact that the cooling procedures of pumping seawater had failed on all three, that the containment of the pressure in the containment vessels failed on all three. The chances of all three going is a multiple of that so it’s significantly less likely.

               [DF]   Ok I’m really very grateful. I’d like to wrap it up now I think.  Sir John and colleagues in London I think we’ve really valued your very frank responses.

               [JB]  I would say that given the devastation that you’ve got in Japan,  I would characterise the nuclear issue as a sideshow. 

One week on

Reuters - Japan Earthquake Live


Japan earthquake: for the defiant Brits who stay in Tokyo, a quiet pint

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support

Facebook wall

I have been reading how there is some level of distrust to whether any monies donated to charity will reach the intended victims. In some cases it seems that monies may get directed to a particular chairites other causes. The above group is partly organised by a wonderful woman who cares for our pets when we travel. She has taken it on herself to drive across the country to the Sendai area to provide help and support. I can categorically say that anything donated to this group will go directly to those affected. Donate here.

As featured on CNN - in amongst the scaremongering.

Five lessons from Fukushima

Woke this morning to full bore panic amongst the expat community, thanks to comments made overnight in Europe and the US. Someone needs to mention to the Japanese. They seem to be intent to go about life as normal.

Friend forwarded the following article.. please read.

"Five lessons from Fukushima.

The world’s media has spent the past four days obsessing about one thing. No, not the deaths of thousands of people in Japan after the terrible combination of an earthquake and tsunami, with whole towns simply wiped out. Instead, the focus has been on what might happen at a Japanese nuclear power plant where no one has died, so far, and where the likelihood of serious harm seems remote.

1. Fukushima is not Chernobyl

The world’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred in April 1986 in the former Soviet Union (in what is now northern Ukraine) was utterly different from what is happening at the moment in Japan. The only connection is that Chernobyl and Fukushima are nuclear power plants.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Class act

It was brought to my attention that the title doesn't drip with sarcasm and irony as much as I had hoped. For the record I think this joker is a total wanker. That a little clearer?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As it happened

Click here
Footage taken by a colleague on Friday in the office...

Monday, March 14, 2011

How can you help?

The Cause Action website has an extensive list of groups accepting donations for disaster relief efforts, ranging from Yahoo! to the Democratic Party of Japan. Some are payable by bank transfer, in case you don't have a credit card, though most of the information is currently only available in Japanese. See the complete list here.

The following international sites are recommended:

American Red Cross
Canpan Fields (Japanese NPO)
Save the Children
Non-Believers Giving Aid (scroll down the page for Japan earthquake relief)
NGO Jen (in English and Japanese)
International Medical Corps
Association of Medical Doctors in Asia
Lawson stores across Japan (other than Ibaraki & Tohoku) are accepting cash donations, March 13-26. Money will be given to Japan Red Cross. If you have a Lawson Ponta Card, you can also donate your points at Loppi shops.

Tokyo-based food bank Second Harvest Japan is taking donations of food and supplies for earthquake victims. Details are available here.

via Timeout

Sunday, March 13, 2011



If you can or want to donate to the relief efforts, see below.

AMERICAN RED CROSS: Emergency Operation Centers are opened in the affected areas and staffed by the chapters. This disaster is on a scale larger than the Japanese Red Cross can typically manage. Donations to the American Red Cross can be allocated for the International Disaster Relief Fund, which then deploys to the region to help. Donate here.
GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Donate here.
SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.
SALVATION ARMY: The Salvation Army has been in Japan since 1895 and is currently providing emergency assistance to those in need. Donate here.
AMERICARES: Emergency team is on full alert, mobilizing resources and dispatching an emergency response manager to the region. Donate here.
CONVOY OF HOPE: Disaster Response team established connection with in-country partners who have been impacted by the damage and are identifying the needs and areas where Convoy of Hope may be of the greatest assistance. Donate here.

: Putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities. Donate here.
SHELTER BOX: The first team is mobilizing to head to Japan and begin the response effort. Donate here.