The children of Fukushima

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Sigh. Well, we knew this would happen, but of course we hoped it wouldn’t:

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30.

But the deadly epidemic at Fukushima is consistent with impacts suffered among children near the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, as well as findings at other commercial reactors.

The likelihood that atomic power could cause such epidemics has been confirmed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which says that “an increase in the risk of childhood thyroid cancer” would accompany a reactor disaster.

In evaluating the prospects of new reactor construction in Canada, the Commission says the rate “would rise by 0.3 percent at a distance of 12 kilometers” from the accident. But that assumes the distribution of protective potassium iodide pills and a successful emergency evacuation, neither of which happened at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima.

The numbers have been analyzed by Mangano. He has studied the impacts of reactor-created radiation on human health since the 1980s, beginning his work with the legendary radiologist Dr. Ernest Sternglass and statistician Jay Gould.

Speaking on the Green Power & Wellness Show, Mangano also confirms that the general health among downwind human populations improves when atomic reactors are shut down, and goes into decline when they open or re-open.
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My kid, the genius

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In Fast Company:

Too many people seem to think they can’t see an artwork properly unless it’s viewed through a smartphone lens. The formerly contemplative, tech-free spaces of art galleries and museums have become hubs of annoying photo-snapping and Instagramming adults.

Brooklyn-based conceptual artist J. Robert Feld finds this alarming. “People rush through a museum, like a scavenger hunt, capturing images in their devices, as if that’s an appropriate substitute for pausing and contemplating the work,” he tells Co.Design.

To explore our phone-induced disconnection, Feld created a painting series that requires that you view it through a smartphone camera–in order to see it properly. In Mondrian Inverted: The Viewer Is Not Present, Feld faithfully reproduced Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s abstract geometric compositions–but inverted their color schemes. White stripes turn black; red becomes teal; deep blues become ochre. The inverted paintings look oddly familiar but somehow off. But when you look at them through the inverted color function on your iPhone or Android phone, the colors flip back, and the composition appears as Mondrian originally painted it.

 

Quote of the day

Pope Francis Interview

Pope Francis:

“A fundamentalist group, although it may not kill anyone, although it may not strike anyone, is violent. The mental structure of fundamentalists is violence in the name of God.”

What’s the message of a $549K watch?

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Barry Ritzhold:

But it wasn’t a car or a diamond necklace or a house that made me realize that perhaps the ultra rich have become a bit tone deaf; it was a watch — or a “timepiece,” as the brochure describes them. In an advertisement in last week’s New York Times, I saw a picture of the Greubel Forsey GF05. As the picture showed, it’s a busy little number in platinum and black. A quick Google search revealed a selling price of $549,000.

I half expected to see a tagline that read “For when you need to tell the time, but you just can’t do it without spending the equivalent of 36 years of minimum wage salary.” A timepiece that costs almost triple the U.S.’s median existing-home price ($201,700) does seem a tad pricey to us peasants.

Not too long ago, in the latter days of the financial crisis and the early part of the slow and painful economic recovery, conspicuous consumption became a bit of an embarrassment. The world had sidled up to the abyss, peered over. That look into eternal darkness seems to have chided some of the wasteful spending of the 0.01 percent. Ultra-lux goods saw sales plummet. It almost seemed that people began to reassess their lives and priorities.

Just kidding, that was an image issue. The stock-market rally of almost 200 percent since then has emboldened the biggest of the big spenders to return to their profligate ways. And who can blame them, now that the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds has reported the total household net worth of the U.S. is now $81.8 trillion dollars.

That is a lot of expensive cars, houses and watches. We have money to burn, apparently — and we are.

What does the spending with reckless abandon actually mean? Are we back to business as usual in America in the midst of the fifth year of recovery since the crisis? Does frivolity with enormous sums of money represent the sort of mania we only see at bubble tops?

I have no idea. But it certainly makes me a bit nervous to see the very, very wealthy party like it’s 1999. Like the VIX, the Shiller cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio and venture-capital investing, the spending habits of the 0.01 percent are a data series worth watching.

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