Japan, Guest at Your Party

I was walking around in Berkeley last week and an analogy for the Fukushima problem popped into my head. As I walked, I dictated it into my iPhone's digital recorder (and almost got creamed by a bicyclist riding about 30 mph on the wrong side of the road through a red light--he came so close to hitting me that his clothes touched my clothes!). At the time, I really believed in my idea--I thought it was a brilliant analogy. But I lost faith in it a few days later after I'd dictated it into my computer and edited it. (Macs have an awesome voice recognition capability, but few people use it. You just talk normally and say "period," "comma," etc. when needed, and it types what you say with almost perfect accuracy!)  It sounded too crude and stupid to use.

However, in an email conversation with a friend about Fukushima, I did use it, and I was pleasantly surprised that she liked it. She wrote, "I like your analogy. It really hits the nail on the head. It's crude and weird in a way that people can actually relate to. I think that is the problem. Fukushima is SUCH a big problem that no one can relate . . . can get their mind around the seriousness of it." So now I feel a bit more confident to publish it. It's not like many people read this blog anyway!

By the way, I just added a way (on the upper right of this page) you can sign up for email notification of new blog posts, and I plan to make this blog active again. If this post isn't your cup of tea, please don't give up on me. There are a lot more where this one came from . . .

I think about Fukushima every day. If you study Fukushima, you get more and more and more freaked out. It's like when Dorothy's dog pulled the curtain aside and you could see the Wizard of Oz for what he really was. Millions of people have been given a chance to see the soul of raw capitalism: what kind of human beings would stuff thousands of hot radioactive fuel rods in a swimming pool atop a flimsy little building on the beach of a country known for earthquakes and tsunamis? I've been looking at radiation maps, and I heard Canada's top nuclear scientist on the NBC Nightly News say that just one more sizeable earthquake "and it's bye-bye Japan. People on the west coast of North America [including Jeff Syrop and his family, who can actually see the friggin' Pacific Ocean from their back yard] will have to evacuate." So basically we're playing Russian Roulette. Japan's TEPCO is running around doing clown-car half measures while Japan and the rest of the world are pretending everything is hunky-dory.

I feel an urgency to somehow do my part in sounding the alarm. People need to wake up! The major countries need to work together on the largest scale project every attempted by humankind and solve the problem of Fukushima!

So, without further ado, here is my crude analogy:

Japan, Guest at Your Party

Japan is like somebody who comes to your party and shits in his pants, and the shit is dripping down his leg and getting on your carpet. Some of your guests are already stepping in it! The room is just beginning to stink. But the this Japanese guy is excessively prideful and he can't bear to lose face, so he tries to ignore the problem and refuses to do anything significant about it.

It's a pity, too, because there are several professional janitors at your party, and there are some workers from a professional laundry here as well; their laundry facility is right across the hall from your apartment! Also attending are some of the best doctors in the world. But this fucking Japanese guy won't say anything about his obvious problem. Instead he insists on talking about his favorite subjects: cars and high tech. How shiny my Toyotas are and how sleek are my Lexuses! As surreptitiously as possible, he uses tissues to dab his shoes off each time more shit drips on them, and he keeps hiding the used tissue in his pockets and up his sleeves. It's really fucked up.

Clearly Japan is distressed. People at your party are losing interest in Japanese cars and game stations, and they're all considering canceling their invitations to the big sporting event Japan is having soon at his house (the fucking Olympics!).

The host and the other important guests at the party know that Japan is very distressed, but they are too busy and too greedy to help him because they don't want to impede the flow of conversation and fun at their party. They're making all kinds of deals with one another and enjoying the pretty girls and good scotch! Hardly an offer of help for poor inconvenienced Japan can be heard!

It's likely Japan has food poisoning, which might cause every organ of his body to shut down. He might die! Stupidly and selfishly, the host and the most important guests aren't acknowledging this. If Japan dies, it could destroy the livelihood and safety of all the guests at your party; almost all of them do business with him. And some of the guests are already getting sick! Soon Taiwan and the Philippians might start shitting on themselves. Maybe next it will be your good friends Hawaii, Alaska, and California! It's possible that if he doesn't get treatment soon, Japan could infect everyone in the room with his disease!

Why won't Japan make a serious effort to help himself? Why won't we make a serious effort to help him? What the fuck are we waiting for?

Please click on the comment link below and let me know what you think we can do to get our country seriously involved in this project. Also, are you personally worried about it or is it not a concern for you? A panel of UC Berkeley scientists recently published a paper stating that not much radiation has actually reached us yet, and while they didn't try to diminish the seriousness of the problem, they found that at this point, we're not in any danger of ingesting or breathing dangerous amounts of radiation. Still, every time I eat a tuna sandwich, I think twice now!


  1. Jeff, we are generally, and also quite specifically in many ways, on the same page. Fukushima is with me consciously every day. I worry that the world my daughter will inherit from my (our) generation may be...what? unlivable maybe? I do think that we can't blame the Japanese so much, and even if we can, that won't do us any good. To get out of this situation the whole human race is, I think, going to need to find a place inside where we can acknowledge that we're all in this together and it's going to take all of us, realizing, corny as it may sound, that we're all one family, living in one great big but rapidly shrinking world, and we're going to have to find (or to allow to come through us) appropriate ways of expressing that realization. What that means, I'm not sure. By the way, you must be familiar with FukushimaResponse.org and the 500-person Fukushima Is Here human mural I helped them create on October 19 -- yes? The East Bay Express recently ran an article pooh-poohing the dangers from Fukushima. I hope the experts the author quoted are right and that you and I are wrong -- I've never ever wanted so badly to be wrong as I am on this one. I would love nothing more than to go on with my peaceful little life. But I am afraid that the situation we have all created at Fukushima will not permit that. Anyway -- thanks for the post. I'm really glad to see this thing is effecting people outside my immediate circle (many of whom have stopped talking to me because this issue has so excited me).

  2. Brad, you and I seem to have a knack for finding THE issue the world should be focused on, the issue that an extraterrestrial sociologist would say "Duh!" about. Job One for the whole world 2000-2008 was to stop/impeach/arrest the Bush government. And now, the obvious international Job One is to clean up Fukushima.

    I was aware of the 500-person "Fukushima Is Here" human mural, but not FukushimaResponse.org. That's really a nice Web site. I really like it's design--simple but professional and easy to read. It quickly informs you and organizes you.

    All significant nations have powerful governments, supported by their people, and those governments should be working together now without us having to petition them. After listening to this wonderful, amazing Jeremy Paxman / Russell Brand interview (10 minutes) ( http://youtu.be/3YR4CseY9pk ), I almost feel stupid even dignifying our government's presence by petitioning it. But still, this issue is not partisan, and it truly affects the elite as well as the working class--nobody really likes to bite into a radioactive tuna sandwich or get radioactive rain on their skin.

    Some UC Berkeley scientists say we're not in much danger yet and that ocean water near California tests out fine, and I believe them. But with more and more radiation from Fukushima pouring into our environment, it's just a matter of time before we start seeing some real and horrible effects. And like the Canadian scientist said, the whole thing is hanging by a thread--one more earthquake and Japan is toast and you'll be able to buy California coast real estate for next to nothing.