Friday, March 25, 2011

Oldstream Media: In Search Of Panic

Right on schedule -- if the schedule is a 24/7 round of "Awful, terrible, horrible and getting worse," interspersed with 15 seconds of cute baby animals each and every hour -- the oldstream media has latched onto reports of workers at Reactor 3 encountering water with unexpectedly high radioactive content for a brand-new round of hand-wringing, eyebrow-lifting and person-to-person interviews with men in suits addressing serious, scientific concerns like, "dilithium crystals: threat or menace?" And they're talking meltdown once again. Oh, how they love that word; I'm still waiting for a blue-candlewax animation of the hot stuff cooking its way through. (The Reuters article linked to about is about the most level-headed).

The real story is, we don't know yet; maybe nobody does. The people most likely to know are patiently explaining that if there was an actual meltdown, they'd expect the water to be a lot more contaminated. And somehow, no reporter seems capable of putting together "venting steam" with "water that may have come from the reactor." "Dr. Watson? Mr. Hearst? You know my methods; apply them."

And then there's the exciting -- to a reporter's mind -- news that Reactor 3 was running MOX, a partially-reprocessed mix that, OMG, contains plutonium! --As does every fuel rod that's been cooking very long; the MOX version contains about twice as much as your regular brand but wild-eyed discussion of even-more-deadlier is just more misunderstanding of risk. Some straight talk about MOX at this link. What's in any reactor fuel rod, you don't want on the coffee table in your living room -- but you don't want a bathtub full of anhydrous ammonia there, either, and that stuff is hauled in big tanks all over, anywhere there are farms. If fuel rods were venomous snakes, it might be easier for the newsies to dope out the degree of badness.... Maybe.

Meanwhile, the newschurn pounds on, turning half-understood rumor into pettily-packaged speculation, leaving you and me to dredge the Web in search of truth, Diogenes in a pea-soup fog with half a book of matches. Good luck!

(Speaking of radioactive waste, former U.S. President James Earl Carter is going to North Korea for reasons unknown. Perhaps they'll keep him. Ahh, dreams....)

7 comments:

DaddyBear said...

I would love to see more stories about how self-sufficient Japanese communities are taking care of themselves. But then what would the Oprah-watchers have to squawk about?

docjim505 said...

[R]eports of workers at Reactor 3 encountering water with unexpectedly high radioactive content for a brand-new round of hand-wringing, eyebrow-lifting and person-to-person interviews with men in suits addressing serious, scientific concerns like, "dilithium crystals: threat or menace?" [emphasis mine - dj505]

Lessee here: it's a nuclear reactor that has partially melted down in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami. I'm guess that there are a lot of "unexpected" things going on.

Would it be too much to ask MiniTru to give actual numbers and perhaps a thoughtful explanation of the various ways that radioactivity is measured (rads, roentgens, sieverts, etc.)? How radioactive IS the water? As some of us have bothered to learn lately, even a friggin' banana is radioactive to some degree, yet it's not a bad thing. So, how "hot" is the water? And the vegetables that the Japanese have been testing? Are we talking "Lucky Dragon #5" levels here, or "tritium wristwatch" levels?

O' course, that would involve, you know, NUMBERS, and journalists are not very good with those. Plus, it's embarrassing to have to take off their shoes on camera for numbers > 10.

Drang said...

This all serves The Narrative, which, at it's core, is that the Industrial Revolution was A Bad Thing and we should go back to living in grass shacks and doing whatever the God King tells us is Good For Us.

Old Grouch said...

@docjim505

Well, numbers are hard. So is context.

Nathan said...

The supposed high radioactive iodine levels that had Tokyo residents scrambling to buy up all the bottled water in town the other day turned out to be dangerous only if you were an infant...and frankly even an infant would have to drink the stuff for a year before there would be any kind of a problem...and it would be hard to do even that because the half-life of iodine-131 is only 8 days, and levels were already dropping. (Link)

But to read the fishwarp here, you'd think the water was glowing and Gojira was climbing out of Uraga Bay.

docjim505 said...

Old Grouch, thanks for the link. I've seen this chart but hadn't really looked at it. Really helps to put things in perspective.

It also reminds me of 1st grade math class with Sister Mary Paulinus!

Bubblehead Les. said...

If I don't see Giant Ants crawling in the background, I ain't worried. If Giant Ants DO show up, I'll just call on God,Ronnie Barrett and John Moses' BEST Invention, the .50 Caliber Round. Now if those Damn Fool Media Idjits would just focus on all those poor Refugees sitting in Trashed Gyms with no heat,light or food and Shame the Jap Gov't into moving quicker...