Saturday, September 7, 2019

Interesting Discussion Of Gendered Criticism Of The Selfie

There’s a lot more to a selfie than meets the eye (Salon)

If you are a model making money for some man being photographed or looked at it is good. If you are a man taking creepshots, that's just what guys do. If you are a woman exploring your own identity through visual expression you are vain or narcissistic...

"There’s a specific gendering to referring to selfie-takers as “narcissistic” that I also want to point out as well. Generally, it’s men telling women that they are narcissists for selfie-ing, some­thing that critic John Berger recognized decades ago in his iconic book Ways of Seeing. He points out that in Western art, women have historically been subjects for the male gaze, with little con­trol over their bodies or subjectivities.
Considering the gendered active/passive relationship, women are the objects of desire and inspiration for the male gaze, and to act of their own accord is, as Berger described, somehow sud­denly labeled as narcissistic within the patriarchal viewing cul­ture by the very men who want to retain control. The same holds true, decades later, for the majority of selfie critiques issued by men about women taking selfies. Writes Berger of the contradic­tions inherent in a man painting a woman versus allowing her to view herself: “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her; put a mirror in her hand and you called the paint­ing ‘Vanity,’ thus morally condemning the woman whose naked­ness you had depicted for your own pleasure.”
In another condemnation of Western art history’s paintings of nude-women-by-men paradox, Berger famously notes: “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch them­selves being looked at.” A woman taking a moment to actually look at herself is not only brave, but a threat to the patriarchal order. To quell that feminine threat, men immediately labeled her as vain, as someone who is crying out for attention (from men, because obviously who else could save a woman from herself?!). "

Ireland's Historical Reliance On The Catholic Church For Social Welfare Service Provision Came With A High Human Cost - Abuse, Torture, Coverups

This article is an emotionally difficult read, but worth your time. Major trauma warning

Ireland's hidden survivors (BBC)

The article illuminates attitudes, policies, practices, organisations, and cultures that also directly controlled us in Canada. The Catholic Church (the role it played in authoritarian Duplessis Quebec), residential schools, foster care that was little more than slave labour, the "Christian Brothers" of Newfoundland abuse shame, the hateful, violent, murderous, and abhorrent abuse and genocide perpetrated on First Nations people throughout Canadian history. Policies of assimilation, colonialism, secrecy, impunity, violence, and official indifference to the suffering of those destroyed by the system - especially those deemed inferior or unworthy. The "other" that did not conform to sanctioned roles and ways of life, or those simply abandoned to be exploited and discarded

The grotesque morality policing by officially sanctioned and legally empowered religious groups and the institutions they ran - quite similar to the Saudi religious and morality police, but... "Christian"

It serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when religion and public services are combined and given the power of the state to revoke liberty and control behaviours. It serves as a direct warning of what will happen in the "white-power" right-wing theocratic/religious state that Mike Pence and his Canadian counterparts want to see in our countries

It serves as a warning that everything in "The Handmaid's Tale" is real and is currently happening (not a rhetorical exaggeration), or has happened in the real world

"The most appalling part of this terrifyingly plausible world is that it’s all based on real events. As Atwood herself has said, “One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened… nor any technology not already available. No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities. God is in the details, they say. So is the Devil.”
Everything in The Handmaid’s Tale has occurred in a totalitarian state, military regime or religious order. The concept of assigning fertile handmaids to the highest in society has a historical precedent dating right back to the Bible."

When "incels" say women should be distributed to men who want sex but can't find partners... there is precedent - including "comfort women" in WWII Japan's control, and:

"One of her references is the Lebensborn programme of the Nazis' security and surveillance corps, the SS. In 1935, with Germany’s birth rates dropping, Hitler’s right-hand man Heinrich Himmler designed a breeding program to promote an 'Aryan future'. One element of the scheme involved members of the SS 'mating' with suitable German women. They also kidnapped blue-eyed, blonde-haired children to populate the Nazi 'Third Reich'."
 - Dystopian fantasy? The Handmaid’s Tale is based entirely on real history - BBC

"“Incels” (short for “involuntary celibate”) are a deeply chauvinistic group of people whose common bond is that they don’t have sex and are incredibly, violently mad about it.
Incel thinking is based on the idea that women are commodities—that they are objects that owe men sex."
‘Redistributing Sex’ Is a Toxic Conversation About Toxic People -

Reanimate, Reimagine, Revisit, Repurpose

A lot has happened since 2011... I am repurposing this blog as a mode of personal and political expression. It will no longer be focused strictly on privacy, technology, and data issues

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canadian Internet Service Providers Ordered To Cough Up IP Addresses In Hurt Locker Copyright Lawsuits

"Canadian Internet users are getting a taste of the P2P lawyering that had previously been confined to the US and UK, as Hurt Locker lawsuits have begun moving up to the Great White North. Three ISPs have already been ordered to disclose the identities of users accused of downloading the film, and if the ISPs decide to comply, there could be plenty more lawsuits.

As noted by University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, the producers behind Hurt Locker, Voltage Pictures, filed suit against a number of John and Jane Does in Quebec towards the end of August. The suit accuses the anonymous users of downloading, copying, and distributing the film via P2P networks—the users are only identified by IP address, and the Voltage Pictures maintains that the only way to proceed with the case is to obtain names and addresses from their ISPs.
On August 29, the Federal Court in Montréal issued an order to the three ISPs in question—Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, and Videotron—giving them two weeks to cough up the identities of the users associated with those IPs. Those two weeks expire next Monday, September 12, and the ISPs have yet to give any sort of signal that they won't comply."

"Among other things, the accused have argued that their routers—identified by a single IP address—are used by numerous guests or simply that they don't even know how to download illegal music or movies. Though the claims are difficult to vet, it's clear that using an IP address in an attempt to pinpoint a single individual is problematic to say the least."
ars technica - No, Canada! ISPs ordered to out users in Hurt Locker case

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Washington Collecting Cell-Phone Data?

"There seems to be a consensus among privacy advocates that the government is using the very latest technological advancements to sweep up, among other things, the locations of cell phones.

Your cell phone continuously pings your service providers' towers and base stations in order to maintain a signal for you to use. By recording the precise time and angle of a cell's data arriving at multiple base stations, providers can calculate the location of your phone about as accurately as a GPS unit — which means down to a single room in a building, at least in cities crowded with cell towers."

"Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks the government is demanding that cell companies provide the location data as well as other call-data records in bulk form in order to mine the data. "My guess is these 215 orders are being used to collect massive amounts of communications data without any direct connection to terrorism targets," Bankston said."

New Patriot Act Controversy: Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data?


There is a very serious problem in our society. We have become a surveillance culture.

Police and governments (not to mention marketing agencies) are trying to get more and more access to personal information. Often under dubious "preventative" auspices.

As free people we need to be concerned as our freedom from being watched is stripped away.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"WHO agency warns cellphone use ‘possibly carcinogenic’ "

Globe and Mail - "The world’s leading authority on cancer research has declared the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by devices such as cellphones are possibly carcinogenic, a major step that is raising new questions about cellphone safety.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, made the announcement on Tuesday after 31 leading experts from 14 countries met in France to review the existing evidence.

The panel concluded that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic “based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.” Numerous other substances are considered “possibly carcinogenic,” including gasoline, some pesticides and occupational exposure from dry cleaning and firefighting.

Although there are many sources of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as near transmitters, cellphones are the highest source of exposure for most people because they are held directly to the head, allowing the body to absorb radiation.

But the group is also warning consumers not to panic because there is not enough scientific evidence to say that cellphones pose a serious health risk."
Globe and Mail - WHO agency warns cellphone use ‘possibly carcinogenic’

Friday, May 20, 2011

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too"...

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants citizens to use their brains lest they get eaten by packs of marauding zombies.

Well, sort of.

This week, the CDC launched a slick new media campaign that uses the tongue-in-cheek hypothetical scenario of a zombie apocalypse to teach the basics of emergency preparedness.

"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example," reads a note on the CDC's website. "You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."

Talking Points Memo - CDC Urges People To Prepare For Zombie Apocalypse -- And Other Disasters Too

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wired: Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease

"A technique that helps crime fighters zoom in on a serial killer’s whereabouts may help scientists prevent deaths of a different sort — those caused by infectious diseases.

The widely used criminology technique, called geographic profiling, helps investigators narrow a search by pinpointing high-priority targets among thousands of potential locations. In an upcoming International Journal of Health Geographics, researchers demonstrated the technique’s usefulness by identifying the sources of a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo and reconstructing an infamous cholera outbreak in Victorian London. Applying the technique to infectious diseases could help focus interventions, perhaps preventing the spread of disease while saving time and money."

"The math behind geographic profiling also incorporates the idea that all distances are not created equal — highways are easier to traverse than a congested downtown. All these measures then generate a map of places the offender is likely to live, which is overlaid on a map of a search area. Unlike geospatial techniques that designate a central point from which a search radiates equally outward, geographic profiling pinpoints highly probable locations, even if they are at opposite ends of the search area.

Le Comber and his colleagues applied geographic profiling to a recent malaria outbreak in Cairo. Of 59 water bodies where mosquito larvae were found, only eight contained those species that are the most dangerous carriers of the disease. Knowing only the locations of the outbreak’s 139 malaria cases, geographic profiling correctly put six of these eight sites in the most infectious 2 percent of the 59."

Wired - Criminal-Profiling Trick Used to Combat Disease


This is an example of the two edged sword that is data mining. The same kinds of data mining techniques that can make Project Gaydar a threat to privacy can also help save lives in a non-intrusive way.

As a society we need to think carefully about the rules surrounding how we allow data mining and their impact on privacy and, frankly, democracy and freedom. Universities have long understood that these lines exist. That is why they have ethics committees that review the ethical practices and questions surrounding research.

Our society needs to have a larger conversation, rather than simply allowing the quest for profit and power (often the same thing) to be the guiding for in an *anything goes* world.


Just for the record - the above excerpt about malaria might be interesting if exteded to something like mosquito control in urban areas in Canada (like Winnipeg in the summer). These techniques might allow for less use of insecticides. It might also work for controlling rat populations and allow for less poisons to be used in that exercise.

It could also be used by those in power to stamp out demonstrations and resistance. Think about the use of techniques like this if you treated demonstrations like disease and modelled them. Think about Iran and its repression. Think about the G20 summit and how these kinds of techniques could be used to stop legitimate protest. Then apply these techniques to electoral strategy - especially governments that don't care about getting a mandate in a first-past-the-post electoral system - governments that only care about eking out a plurality based victory that gives them more than half the seats in the house...

Think about it.

Zombie Proof House Designed In Poland

In keeping with my last off-topic post:

"A Polish architectural firm has designed the world’s first zombie-proof house called the “safe House”, reports said.

The house is not really inspired by the walking dead but has got plenty of interest as the world celebrates its fifth annual zombie awareness month in May.

The house features Rubik’s cube-type movable parts and folds in on itself completely at the end of the day to seal off outside dangers."

International Business Times - A zombie-proof ‘safe-house’ to survive the apocalypse


Lots of pictures:

All That Is Interesting - The First Zombie Proof House

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Navy Times - Detailed Description Of Bin Laden Raid - New Information

"As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

The three SEALs assumed he was going for a weapon, and one by one they rushed after him through the door, one official described.

Two women were in front of bin Laden, yelling and trying to protect him, two officials said. The first SEAL grabbed the two women and shoved them away, fearing they might be wearing suicide bomb vests, they said.

The SEAL behind him opened fire at bin Laden, putting one bullet in his chest, and one in his head.

It was over in a matter of seconds"

"As the SEALs began photographing the body for identification, the raiders found an AK-47 rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol on a shelf by the door they’d just run through. Bin Laden hadn’t touched them."

Navy Times - Sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal


Read the whole story - it is very interesting. The element that interests me the most (after the fact that Bin Laden is dead - a blessing for the world in my opinion) is the difference that a few degrees of temperature made in the outcome of the mission. That what a person would assume is a small factor loomed large over success or failure - and the lives of the soldiers who undertook the raid.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"USB stick-sized computer runs web, email, costs $25"

"David Braben, British game developer and co-founder of Frontier Developments, has created an ultra-low cost computer the size of a USB stick called Raspberry Pi. The expected price would be a measly $25 for a fully-configured system. He says he’s developed the PC in order to encourage the pursuit of computer programming in children.

But what can you expect from a system that comes for less than the cost of a video game? The tiny PC sports an HDMI port at its head and a USB port at its tail, giving it the ability to be plugged into a TV, hooked up to a USB keyboard or combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The computer packs a 700MHz ARM11 processor with 128MB of SDRAM. As far as graphics go, it runs OpenGL ES 2.0 and has 1080p output."

Yahoo News - David Braben develops $25 PC for schoolchildren


Glad someone is doing it - i would have built it myself if i had a whack of cash

Here is an open hardware version of the same kind of computer - the ben nanonote - a class of computer also called nanonotebooks, or palmtop...

My son has a nanonote and i am intending to buy one soon. The ben nanonote is intended entirely for hardcore nerds - it's not a fun and configurable toy like a cellphone. The website says the following:

"本: běn. The Chinese character 本 signifies an origin or the beginning place; It signifies exactly what the first version of the NanoNote is: a beginning.

The 本 version of NanoNote is an ultra small form factor computing device. The device sports a 336 MHz processor, 2GB of flash memory, microSD slot, head phone jack, USB device and 850mAh Li-ion battery. It boots Linux out of the box and also boots over USB. It’s targeted squarely at developers who see the promise of open hardware and want to roll their own end user experience. It’s the perfect companion for open content; we envision developers turning the device into a music or video player for Ogg or an offline Wikipedia or MIT OpenCourseWare appliance. Or you can simply amaze your friends by creating an ultra small handheld notebook computer. You choose the distribution. The 本 Nanonote is the first in a line of products that will see the addition of other hardware capabilities"


Order them online. My son got his in about 2 weeks from China.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

CBC: "Sony data breach update reveals 'bad practices'"

"Cybersecurity specialists are asking pointed questions about the way Sony manages customers' sensitive information, based on new details about its massive data breach.

Chester Wisniewski, a Vancouver-based senior security advisor with the computer security firm Sophos, said Wednesday that he was shocked when Sony disclosed Tuesday that an "outdated" 2007 database of credit and debit card data was among the information that may have been stolen from players of the EverQuest duology, Free Realms, and other massively multiplayer online games in the company's Sony Entertainment Online division."

CBC - Sony data breach update reveals 'bad practices'

Thursday, April 21, 2011

TPM: "iSpy Conspiracy: Your iPhone Is Secretly Tracking Everywhere You've Been"

"It turns out that your iPhone is keeping a record of everywhere you've been since June. This data is stored on your phone (or iPad) and computer, easily available to anyone who gets their hands on it. Why? Apple won't say. We're creeped out.

The enormous privacy startle, apparently enabled by this summer's iOS 4 release, was discovered by two security researchers, one of whom claims he was an Apple employee for five years. They're equally puzzled and disturbed by the location collection: "By passively logging your location without your permission, Apple have made it possible for anyone from a jealous spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movements," they explain. All it would take to crack the information out of your iOS device is an easy jailbreak. On your computer, the information can be opened as easily as JPEG using the mapping software that the security experts have made for download"

TPM - iSpy Conspiracy: Your iPhone Is Secretly Tracking Everywhere You've Been


It's well past 1984. And the government is tracking you less than marketing firms...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TPM: "Phone Sex Company Controls Nearly 25% Of 1-800 Numbers "

"A Philadelphia company called PrimeTel Communications has, over the past 13 years, acquired nearly a quarter of all 1-800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada, according to a report by the Associated Press. PrimeTel now controls 1.7 million 1-800 numbers, more than any other company, and, the AP says, many of those numbers redirect to a phone-sex service run by a company with close ties to PrimeTel."

TPMMuckraker - Phone Sex Company Controls Nearly 25% Of 1-800 Numbers

"Records obtained by The Associated Press show that over the past 13 years, a little-known Philadelphia company called PrimeTel Communications has quietly gained control over nearly a quarter of all the 1-800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada, often by grabbing them the moment they are relinquished by previous users. As of March, it administered more 800 numbers than any other company, including Verizon and AT&T.

And many, if not most, of those 1.7 million numbers appear to be used for one thing: redirecting callers to a phone-sex service.

Dial 1-800-Chicago and instead of reaching a tourism hotline for the Windy City, you will hear a woman offering "one-on-one talk with a nasty girl" for $2.99 per minute. A similar thing happens if you punch in the initial digits of 1-800-Metallica, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship or 1-800-Whirlpool."

"PrimeTel appears to have benefited by grabbing numbers associated with famous names, like 1-800-Beatles, or numbers that have recently been canceled but are still advertised widely.

From the late 1980s until around 2005, teenagers who dialed the national hotline used by Teens Teaching AIDS Prevention would reach a call center in Kansas City, Mo., where other youths were waiting to answer questions about the disease. When that program ended, the number was soon routed to one of National A-1's sex lines. But the AIDS hotline number is still publicized by public health groups.

When New York City's Fire Department relinquished its toll-free fire safety hotline a few years ago because of an administrative slip-up, PrimeTel grabbed it the moment it became available. Soon enough, 1-800-FIRETIP was ringing into one of National A-1's phone-sex lines.

The same thing happened to the Cook County Jail in Chicago when it canceled its toll-free inmate information line, and to rape counseling hotlines in Maine and New Mexico.

The Republican National Committee once printed a fundraising mailer with a toll-free calling code and was publicly embarrassed when the calls began ringing in to one of National A-1's chat lines."

"Over the years, though, PrimeTel has been hit with lawsuits and complaints alleging that it is violating federal rules banning toll-free service providers from hoarding digits. Federal Communications Commission rules say that "routing multiple toll-free numbers to a single toll-free subscriber" is usually considered hoarding.

The FCC has never taken formal action against PrimeTel or National A-1, although federal authorities have expressed renewed interest lately in companies that handle toll-free numbers. In the fall, authorities sent subpoenas to several, including PrimeTel, asking for information on how they acquire numbers and why."

AP IMPACT: Porn Company Is Amassing 1-800 Numbers


In an active regulation scenario (which I lean toward) this kind of behaviour would have been caught some time ago.

This is one more example of the ridiculous outcomes of the notion "business should regulate itself".

The FCC does as little to regulate in the U.S. as the CRTC does here in Canada. Most often when they do regulate it is on behalf of the interests of the companies they are regulating, not in the interests of the general public who really own the airwaves and communications policy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reuters/Talking Points Memo: "Japan finds plutonium in soil at stricken nuclear plant"

"TOKYO (Reuters) - Plutonium found in soil at the Fukushima nuclear complex heightened alarm on Tuesday over Japan's battle to contain the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years, as pressure mounted on the prime minister to widen an evacuation zone around the plant."

"In the latest blow to hopes authorities were gradually getting the plant under control, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said plutonium was found at low-risk levels in soil samples at the facility.

A by-product of atomic reactions and also used in nuclear bombs, plutonium is highly carcinogenic and one of the most dangerous substances on the planet, experts say.

They believe some of the plutonium may have come from spent fuel rods at Fukushima or damage to reactor No. 3, the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said while the plutonium levels were not harmful to human health, the discovery could mean the reactor's containment mechanism had been breached.

"Plutonium is a substance that's emitted when the temperature is high, and it's also heavy and so does not leak out easily," agency deputy director Hidehiko Nishiyama told a news conference.

"So if plutonium has emerged from the reactor, that tells us something about the damage to the fuel. And if it has breached the original containment system, it underlines the gravity and seriousness of this accident.""

Reuters/Talking Points Memo: "Japan finds plutonium in soil at stricken nuclear plant"


More of that nuclear safety in action...

Because remember - disasters only happen one at a time - it's inconceivable that an earthquake and a tsunami would happen at the same time... good thing there was no typhoon to go with it...

And the nuclear industry says that everything is still safe because no-one could have predicted this would have ever happened - therefore all the other plants are safe - because they are supposed to be safe from all other known disaster possibilities (of course the fact that over 40 plants in the U.S. haven't even met regulations published in 1975 related to fire safety after an earthquake might make a person sceptical [but i'll publish that one in a little while]).

I'm especially thrilled with all the charts that circulated in the days after this disaster showing that more people through history have died from coal fired power plants than nuclear accidents. I think it misses the point. Even if people have died from coal related issues - we won't be glowing green and growing a third eye for 50,000 years after the dust hits the ground.

The story cited above also says "Beyond the evacuation zone, traces of radiation have been found in tap water in Tokyo and as far away as Iceland."

Of course coal and hydrocarbons will have quite an interesting long term effect what with the climate of the entire planet being altered courtesy of emissions...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Christian Science Monitor: "Traces of Japanese radiation detected in 13 US states"

"Radiation has been detected in the air or water in 13 states, but 'far below levels of public health concern.' Rainwater is called safe to drink. Massachusetts is monitoring milk supply."

"Elevated yet still very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis have now been detected in the air or water in more than a dozen US states and three territories, federal and local authorities say.

Higher than usual levels of radiation were detected by 12 monitoring stations in Alaska, Alabama, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and Washington State over the past week and sent to Environmental Protection Agency scientists for detailed laboratory analysis, the agency said in a release Monday.

Unusual, yet still very low “trace amounts” of radiation, were also reported in Massachusetts rain water and by state officials and nuclear power plant radiation sensors in Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania, the Associated Press and Reuters reported."

"One key area being watched is the US milk supply. After the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, it was found that cows had eaten grass tainted by radioactive fallout from the reactor. Concentrated radioiodine in the milk was blamed later for causing health problems in humans who drank it."

Christian Science Monitor - Traces of Japanese radiation detected in 13 US states

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wired: How Much Money Do Spammers Make?

"After deleting the 10,000th Viagra offer from your inbox, you might wonder, does anyone actually make money off this crap? Chris Kanich and his colleagues at UC San Diego and the International Computer Science Institute wondered too—so they hijacked a botnet to find out. Kanich’s team intentionally infected eight computers with a middleman virus, software they found in the wild that was relaying instructions between a botmaster computer and the network of computers it had secretly turned into spam-sending zombies. Then they changed the orders, effectively zombifying the botnet for their own research. Instead of sending hapless rubes to the botmaster’s website, spam ads would instead funnel them to a site built by Kanich’s team. It looked like an authentic Internet pharmacy, but instead of taking credit card numbers in return for a bottle of sugar pills (or worse), the site coughed up an error message and counted the clicks. Then the researchers calculated an estimate of how much money the spammer grossed per day: about $7,000."

Wired - Equation: How Much Money Do Spammers Rake In?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Christian Science Monitor: "Reports: Lax oversight, 'greed' preceded Japan nuclear crisis"

"Reports are emerging that both the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency and the Japanese government failed to properly ensure the safety of country's nuclear power industry.

The reports are challenging the recent refrain that the world's No. 3 economy couldn't have done better and once again highlighting how poor government oversight of an industry that allegedly cut corners to turn higher profits can spawn an environmental disaster."

"Dr. Andreev said the sequence of events at Japan's Fukushima I suggested that the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), may have put profit before safety. The fire that broke out Tuesday in reactor No. 4's fuel storage pond may have been caused by a desire to conserve space and money, he suggested.

"The Japanese were very greedy and they used every square inch of the space. But when you have a dense placing of spent fuel in the basin you have a high possibility of fire if the water is removed from the basin," Andreev told Reuters.

TEPCO has come under fire in the past for falsifying safety records at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. In 2002, according to The Wall Street Journal, TEPCO admitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that it had falsified the results of safety tests on the No. 1 reactor.

This was only one in a string of scandals and coverups to mar the Asia's biggest utility company. In 2007, the company initially said there was no release of radiation after an earthquake damaged its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, but later admitted that radioactive water spilled into the Sea of Japan.

And less than a year ago, on June 17, a reactor at Fukushima I lost electricity and saw a dangerous drop in cooling water, Bloomberg reported. TEPCO's president failed to adequately investigate to prevent the current crisis, said Iwaki City council member Kazuyoshi Sato."

Christian Science Monitor - Reports: Lax oversight, 'greed' preceded Japan nuclear crisis


This is the same kind of cozy inspection relationship between the banks and regulators and inspectors that caused the world economy to melt down a few years ago, hey?

Unless there is a fierce independence between inspectors and the inspected these sorts of events will happen.

Self-regulation does not work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Nuclear: Spent Fuel Containment Pool May Be Open To Atmosphere; Sattellite Images Appear To Show Missing Roof

"...the total amount of long-lived radioactivity in the pool is at least five times that in the reactor core..."

"The spent fuel produced by reactors has been a challenge since the dawn of the nuclear industry, with most reactor operators opting to store it in pools of cooling water on site. At the 40-year-old Fukushima plant, which was built by General Electric, the fuel rods are stored at a pool about three stories up, next to the reactor. Satellite photos raise concerns that the roof of the building housing the pool has been blown off, says Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a senior policy adviser to the secretary of energy and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999. He and other experts are now warning that any release of radioactivity from the spent-fuel pool could make the releases from the reactors themselves pale in comparison."

"The pools “contain very large concentrations of radioactivity, can catch fire, and are in much more vulnerable buildings,” he warns. If the pools lose their inflow of circulating cooling water, the water in the pools will evaporate. If the level of water drops to five or six feet above the spent fuel, Alvarez calculates, the release of radioactivity “could be life-threatening near the reactor building.” Since the total amount of long-lived radioactivity in the pool is at least five times that in the reactor core, a catastrophic release would mean “all bets are off,” he says."

The Daily Beast - The Japan Nuke Problem No One's Talking About


OK - my usual motif is to toss a story out and then editorialise on the story. So here's my editorialisation:

"So, how's that nuclear safety workin' for ya?"


"Moreover, in the spent fuel pools usually situated next to nuclear power plants, there are large numbers of additional fuel rods, used ones, disposed of as waste. There must be constant water circulation in the spent fuel pools. In what is labeled a “loss-of-water’ accident in a spent fuel pool, the zirconium cladding of the fuel rods is projected as exploding—sending into the environment the lethal nuclear poisons in a spent fuel pool……."

latest news on the uranium/nuclear industry
Technical information on the Fukushima nuclear loss of coolant


Image Credit:

latest news on the uranium/nuclear industry
Technical information on the Fukushima nuclear loss of coolant

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court: Corporations Do Not Have Personal Privacy Rights

"“The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 12-page decision.

He added: “We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.”"

"Corporations do not enjoy a right to personal privacy that would prevent disclosure of certain embarrassing documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The unanimous decision came in a case examining whether telecommunications giant AT&T could claim an exemption from required disclosure under FOIA because government release of its documents to competitors would cause the corporation to suffer an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Lawyers for AT&T argued that the company was a private corporate citizen with personal-privacy rights that protect it from government disclosure of embarrassing documents."

Christian Science Monitor: Supreme Court: Corporations do not enjoy personal privacy rights


While I haven't been a fan (to say the least) of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding Corporate Rights ™, I am pleased that they got this one right.

Corporations are not persons. They should not have human rights. They should not be allowed to contribute to political campaigns (neither should unions in my mind).

Intelligent beings have "human rights" not the legal fiction we call corporations (this is where we veer into my personal feeling that a number of "higher animals" - thinking and self-aware species like dolphins, whales, and elephants [an example list, not a complete one] - should have essentially "human" rights).

Corporations are an economic and legal fiction created to allow people to pool resources in an ordered manner.

They have no more inherent rights than than a copy of valley of the dolls. They are a set of rules not a person, and should not be a vehicle to allow those who control them to use the benefits of asset pooling to further the narrow agenda of those very same people who control those corporations.

Interesting Discussion Of Gendered Criticism Of The Selfie

There’s a lot more to a selfie than meets the eye (Salon) by Alicia Eler The moral panic around teen selfies is old fear dre...