Sendai Earthquake Map

Japan Earthquakes 3-13-2011 11-29-13 AM
Image by Kevin Krejci via Flickr

On the 11th of March 2011, the world’s media reported a massive earthquake off the East coast of Japan. It turned out to hit magnitude 9 on the Richter scale, and caused a devastating tsunami; the region’s nuclear power facilities have been experiencing major difficulties since the earthquake and tsunami triggered a series of events leading to massive overheating.

The Japan Quake Map on this website presents a time-lapse visualisation of the Sendai earthquake and its aftershocks, primarily to help those outside the affected area understand what the people of Japan are experiencing. It plots earthquake data from USGS on a map using the Google Maps API, with the size of the circle denoting the magnitude (the higher the magnitude, the larger the circle) and the colour showing the focal depth (see the legend below the map).” (Japan Quake Map)


The Horrible Libya Hypocrisies

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“Neocons and liberal interventionists stampeded Obama into imposing a no-fly zone against Libya—despite the absence of vital U.S. interests there. Leslie H. Gelb on the hypocrisy among world leaders and how the experts abuse historical analogies.” (via The Daily Beast)

Where to Go During an Earthquake

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963 1998

“Remember that stuff about hiding under a table or standing in a doorway? Well, forget it! This is a real eye opener. It could save your life someday.”  — Doug Copp (via Northwestpassage2011, thanks to Lloyd).

Happy Ostara

Spring arrived in the northern hemisphere last night, in the neopagan wheel of the year characterized by the sabbat of Ostara. “In terms of Wiccan ditheism, this festival is characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort-son, who spent the winter months in death.[10] Other variations include the young God regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the Goddess returning to her Maiden aspect.” (via Wheel of the Year – Wikipedia) 


Rush Limbaugh Mocks Japan Quake Refugees

Rush Limbaugh Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden of mar...
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‘Rush Limbaugh laughed about Japanese refugees recycling after the earthquake that struck the country on his Tuesday show.

A caller asked Limbaugh, “If these are the people that invented the Prius, have mastered public transportation, recycling, why did Mother Earth, Gaia if you will, hit them with this disaster?”

Limbaugh called this an “interesting question,” and played a clip of ABC’s Diane Sawyer reporting from a shelter in Japan. In the clip, Sawyer is surprised that the refugees in the shelter have maintained a recycling program. Limbaugh first mocked Sawyer, doing an impression of her and saying that “she sounds like she saw her husband for the first time in six months.” He then turned to his caller’s question.

“He’s right,” Limbaugh said. “They’ve given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are recycling their garbage.” Here, he began to laugh, continuing, “and yet, Gaia levels them! Just wipes them out!” ‘ (via HuffPo).

Frauenfelder Interview with Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug

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The Fatal Menace of MRSA: “MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphyoloccus Aureus) kills more people every year than AIDS. In the US alone 19,000 die from it each year, and another 369,000 are hospitalized because of it. The World Health Organization calls MRSA the most important health issue of the 21st century.

I interviewed McKenna about her book and MRSA. You can read it below. You can also listen to the audio recording of my interview.” (via Boing Boing)

Crack in the NYT Paywall

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“The Times scheme allows readers 20 free stories per month before they have to pay. However, if you come in via Twitter or Facebook, reading the story doesn’t count against your total. So, cheapskates, meet @freenyt, a three-hour old Twitter feed that intends to tweet all the Times stories.” (via The Daily Dish)

Lessons from the long tail of improbable disaster

Steven  Pearlstein writes:“If it seems that the frequency and size of calamities have been picking up in recent years, it’s only because they probably have.” (via The Washington Post).

We continually underestimate the frequency and severity of so-called ‘low-probability high-impact events’, or ‘black swans’ (in the words of Nassim Nicholas Taleb), to our peril. Taleb, whose book I was uncannily reading when Japanese events unfolded, would go further, saying they drive human history. It is hubris to continue to make predictions based on what we know, when what we do not know may be more determinative.

NHK World TV

NHK’s 24-hour live news stream in English. NHK, for those who are not familiar with it, is Japan’s national public broadcasting system. Japanese friends have told me that this news stream is the best way to get English-language coverage of Japanese news. “It’s much less sensational than CNN and it is for the English speaking people who actually live in Japan…” as one described it.

R.I.P. Jack Hardy

Folk Singer and Keeper of the Flame, Dies at 63: ‘Jack Hardy, a folk singer and folk music promoter whose Greenwich Village recordings and songwriting workshops kept alive the neighborhood tradition of counterculture troubadours, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 63.The cause was complications of lung cancer, his son, Malcolm, said.

Mr. Hardy wrote hundreds of songs — protest songs, political talking songs and romantic ballads — his lyrics often consciously literary, his music tinged with a Celtic sound. With a singing voice raspy and yearning, he performed in clubs and coffeehouses in New York and elsewhere and recorded more than a dozen albums, many of them self-produced, though two boxed sets of his work were released by a small, independent label in 2000.

“I’m undoubtedly the least famous person with a boxed set,” he boasted in an interview that year.

Perhaps he wasn’t famous, but he was, in his way, influential.

In the early 1980s, after Bob Dylan had gone electric and folk music had been shunted aside by disco and punk, Mr. Hardy helped found a musical cooperative for like-minded folkies. It established a performance space and made more than 1,000 low-budget recordings of local performers and distributed them to subscribers and radio stations, along with a newsletter, under the rubric the Fast Folk Musical Magazine.

Lyle Lovett, Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman and Shawn Colvin all recorded first for Fast Folk, according to the Smithsonian Institution, which holds tapes of the original recordings and the magazine archives. (A two-CD set is available from the institution’s nonprofit record label, Smithsonian Folkways.) Mr. Hardy’s song “St. Clare” was covered by Ms. Vega and appears on her 2001 album “Songs in Red and Gray.” ‘ (via NYTimes obit).

R.I.P. Owsley Stanley

Artisan of Acid Is Dead at 76: ‘Owsley Stanley (left, with Jerry Garcia), the prodigiously gifted applied chemist to the stars, who made LSD in quantity for the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Ken Kesey and other avatars of the psychedelic ’60s, died on Sunday in a car accident in Australia. He was 76 and lived in the bush near Cairns, in the Australian state of Queensland

His car swerved off a highway and down an embankment before hitting trees near Mareeba, a town in Queensland, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Stanley’s wife, Sheilah, was injured in the accident.

Mr. Stanley, the Dead’s former financial backer, pharmaceutical supplier and sound engineer, was in recent decades a reclusive, almost mythically enigmatic figure. He moved to Australia in the 1980s, as he explained in his rare interviews, so he might survive what he believed to be a coming Ice Age that would annihilate the Northern Hemisphere.

Once renowned as an artisan of acid, Mr. Stanley turned out LSD said to be purer and finer than any other. He was also among the first individuals (in many accounts, the very first) to mass-produce the drug; its resulting wide availability provided the chemical underpinnings of an era of love, music, grooviness and much else. Conservatively tallied, Mr. Stanley’s career output was more than a million doses, in some estimates more than five million.

His was the acid behind the Acid Tests conducted by the novelist Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, the group of psychedelic adherents whose exploits were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.The music world immortalized Mr. Stanley in a host of songs, including the Dead’s “Alice D. Millionaire” (a play on a newspaper headline, describing one of his several arrests, that called him an “LSD Millionaire”) and Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne.” ‘ (via obit)

A drug that could make you grow sensory whiskers (and penis spines)

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“Only a few molecules separate you from having sensory whiskers and a penis spine. That’s right – evolution has cheated you out of those whiskers that make your cat a super-sensor and the spines that, well, make your penis super-sensitive. A study published today in Nature reveals that human DNA still bears traces of genes that could, if tinkered with slightly, cause the next generation of Homo sapiens to have new sensory organs. And penis spines. How would that work?” (via Gizmodo).

Illinois abolishes death penalty

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn addresses attendee...
Gov. Pat Quinn
Quinn signs death penalty ban, commutes 15 death row sentences to life: “Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a historic ban on the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life without parole. 

The governor said he followed his conscience. He said he believed in signing the bill he also should “abolish the death penalty for everyone,” including those already on death row.” (via Chicago Tribune)


Take Action to Protect Wolves:

Image by Arrr! via Flickr

“Tomorrow the Senate will take up its Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for the next 7 months. This spending bill must be kept clean from any language attempting to hurt our environment and endangered species. Tell your Senator to pass a CR that is free of anti-environmental policy provisions (riders) before it is too late.

Unfortunately, the Senate CR unveiled on Friday is being used as a vehicle to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies from the Endangered Species Act. Meanwhile, the House-passed version of the CR was loaded up with nearly two dozen anti-environmental riders that threaten our air, water and wildlife.

The bill produced by the Senate Appropriations Committee is being used to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Washington by reversing a federal court ruling in2009. Using a federal spending bill to overturn court rulings and strip Endangered Species Act protections would allow politicians not wildlife experts to decide the fate of a species. If signed into law this would be the first time that Congress has ever acted to delist an endangered species. Such a precedent opens the door to the next “inconvenient” species that powerful industries want the politicians they support to remove from the Endangered Species Act.

Passing a Senate CR containing a wolf rider also makes it far more difficult for the White House and the Senate to say no to the all of the harmful anti-environmental policy riders that have been included in the House-passed CR when it gets down to negotiating a final spending bill that would go to the President’s desk.

Please tell the Senate the CR must be kept clean. Please tell your Senator to vote NO on H.R. 1 and pass a clean CR out of the Senate.” (via Earthjustice)

The Disposable Woman

Charlie Sheen in March 2009

Don’t let’s be entertained by this supreme misogynist: “Even now — after Mr. Sheen began carpet-bombing his bosses in radio rants, prompting CBS to shut down production on the show — observers still seem more entertained than outraged, tuning in to see him appear on every talk show on the planet and coming up with creative Internet memes based on his most colorful statements. And while his self-abuses are endlessly discussed, his abuse of women is barely broached.

Our inertia is not for lack of evidence. In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)

In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.

The privilege afforded wealthy white men like Charlie Sheen may not be a particularly new point, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are endlessly derided for their extracurricular meltdowns and lack of professionalism on set; the R&B star Chris Brown was made a veritable pariah after beating up his equally, if not more, famous girlfriend, the singer Rihanna. Their careers have all suffered, and understandably so.

This hasn’t been the case with Mr. Sheen, whose behavior has been repeatedly and affectionately dismissed as the antics of a “bad boy” (see: any news article in the past 20 years), a “rock star” (see: Piers Morgan, again) and a “rebel” (see: Andrea Canning’s “20/20” interview on Tuesday). He has in essence, achieved a sort of folk-hero status; on Wednesday, his just-created Twitter account hit a million followers, setting a Guinness World Record.” (writer Anna Holmes via NYTimes op-ed).

A virus so large it gets viruses

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“Last year, researchers uncovered the largest virus yet discovered. With a genome that is over 700,000 base pairs long, the CroV virus has more DNA than some bacteria. Fortunately, it infects a small, unicellular organism that’s very distantly related to humans. Now, the same research team is back, this time announcing that they’ve discovered a virus that attacks CroV, and may just have given rise to all transposable elements, sometimes known as jumping genes.” (via Nobel Intent)


Survey of Unhealthy Sleep-Related Behaviors 2009

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“… among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, 35.3% reported having <7 hours of sleep on average during a 24-hour period, 48.0% reported snoring, 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least 1 day in the preceding 30 days, and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the preceding 30 days…” (via CDC)