Posts Tagged BBC

BBC News – What Britain used to look like from the air

The BBC is soliciting personal reminiscences related to places in the UK photographed from the air by a company called Aerofilms (nothing to do with Aeros -hmm, yumm) in the 1920s and 1930s. Click the photos to see the video. High-quality photos of Britain before WWII. Amazing. Plus commentary in that “quaint British accent”.







BBC News – What Britain used to look like from the air.

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“Italy? Japan is next,” says successful hedge-fund manager

Update: Here is the video of the BBC Hardtalk program referred to below (Mish’s link is to the BBC audio).

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If you live or work in Japan, you might be interested in this BBC interview with hedge fund manager, Kyle Bass. From “Mish”(click the link below for the audio). I agre with Mish that Bass does a very good job of defending himself, without losing his temper, and keeping his sense of humour. Full marks to him. What is happening now in Europe will happen in Japan. When? Will you be ready?

The interviewer tries to express uncomprehending indignation at what Bass is doing. I suppose there are two possibilities. Listeners could

  1. vent their indignation and outrage, blame the “capitalists”, the “speculators”, or
  2. follow Bass’s example and prepare themselves for the inevitable disaster.

How will listeners respond?  How will you respond? “It’s just a matter of time”. How much time? And will you be ready? Here’s Mish (click the link below the excerpt to read the entire blog post):

The BBC has an excellent interview with Kyle Bass – Founder, Hayman Capital Hedge Fund on Europe, mortgages, monetary printing, “gold and guns” and Japan.

At times the interviewer is openly hostile to Bass, blaming him for making money on the US mortgage mess, then again when Greece blew up.

Bass defends himself quite nicely.

His latest play is an asymmetric bet on Japan, based on demographics, interest rates, and ability to service debt. I happen to agree with Bass, that it is just a matter of time before the Yen blows up. I must also point out people have been predicting this for a decade.

via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Interview with Kyle Bass on Gold, Hugely Profitable Asymmetric Bets on US Subprime and Europe, and his next Asymmetric Bet on Japan.

Key points:

  1. “All the asymmetry in the world lies in Japan”… Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunflowers ineffective in radiation decontamination | Majirox News

Apparently, the sunflowers are not doing their thing. Too bad.

TOKYO majirox news — Sunflowers are virtually ineffective in soaking up radioactive cesium from contaminated soil, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries MAFF on Sept. 14.Ministry officials carried out the tests from May in areas near the radiation-spewing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.Ministry officials said that sunflowers absorbed almost no cesium from contaminated soil.MAFF discovered that of the numerous decontamination measures it has attempted in Fukushima prefecture, removing topsoil was the most effective.

via Sunflowers ineffective in radiation decontamination | Majirox News.

Speaking of topsoil,

Professor Tomoko Nakanishi of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences believes the contamination is mostly superficial.

Her early studies have shown that vast majority of radioactivity is held within the top 5cm of the soil.

As a result, she believes that relatively small quantities of radioactive Caesium 134 and 137 will be absorbed into the stalks of rice, and even fewer into their grains.

“Only the surface is contaminated,” she told me, “only the first 5cm is highly contaminated.”

Professor Takanishi concedes that consumers might not be convinced by these reassurances.

“If you don’t want to eat it,” she says, “just discard this year’s product but next year I’m really optimistic. It will be safe to eat.”

But if that conclusion is proved right, there still remains the challenge of clearing up large areas of poisoned soil.

Removing the top soil is one technique but it needs to be disposed of and the work is very expensive. Ploughing it deeper into the ground can dilute it but that too is a costly option.

Six months on, much of the science is still uncertain and it may be years before farmland can be convincingly declared safe.

via Inside Japan’s Nuclear Ghost Zone | BBC

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BBC News – Japanese unite in show of self-restraint

“Solidarity” is the word used in some news articles to express or explain the respect for the feelings of others that characterizes much Japanese behaviour, and that puzzles so many Western observers. I’m not sure it is the best English word: in Japan, solidarity is more than a spontaneous expression of empathy, it is closer to an ideology; and there is a lot of peer-pressure mixed in with it. To be Japanese is to be bound by solidarity with other Japanese, whether you like it or not.

It is also fear of what others might think (if they went ahead and partied, for instance) that makes many Japanese show self-restraint. It is a kind of self-censorship.

Just a handful of people were sitting under the cherry blossom in Tokyos Ueno Park, and most were sombre.”Before, the picnic blankets would entirely cover the ground,” said one man. “And youd hear people singing karaoke, even this early in the day.””I think a lot of people would feel guilty about those affected by the disaster if they had fun and partied,” added a woman. Normal life A month after Japans earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis, the country has entered a period of what is known as jishuku, or voluntary self-restraint.Out of solidarity with those in disaster-hit areas people across the country are making cut-backs.

via BBC News – Japanese unite in show of self-restraint.

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BBC News – Japan nuclear crisis: Radiation spike report mistaken

The incorrect reading was announced yesterday. The corrected reading is not so terrifying, but an error of this magnitude does not inspire confidence in TEPCO, does it? Aren’t these guys supposed to be the experts in radiation readings?

The operators of a stricken Japanese nuclear plant have apologised for a “mistake” in reporting a radiation spike 10 million times above normal.Tokyo Electric Power Company, which has previously been criticised by officials for its handling of the crisis at the plant, said it got the readings wrong. Despite the mistake, the radiation spike at reactor 2 was still very high and enough to evacuate workers. A spokesman for Japan’s nuclear watchdog, Hidehiko Nishiyama, said the level of radiation in puddles near reactor 2 was confirmed at 1,000 millisieverts an hour.

via BBC News – Japan nuclear crisis: Radiation spike report mistaken.

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BBC News – Japan nuclear threat: The tsunami is the bigger tragedy

That’s what the title says, but the article is mostly about the nuclear crisis. And there’s this astonishing tidbit of information buried in it:

Because more than 70 million CT scans are carried out each year, the US National Cancer Institute has estimated that 29,000 Americans will get cancer as a result of the CT scans they received in 2007 alone

via BBC News – Japan nuclear threat: The tsunami is the bigger tragedy.

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Work till you drop… it’ll stave off Alzheimer’s!

Histopathogic image of senile plaques seen in ...
Image via Wikipedia

Well, well. First we get this reminder from the Telegraph (reminding us of who is really working for whom) and then barely two weeks later, this from the BBC:

Keeping the brain active by working later in life may be an effective way to ward off Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud, and the populace must be told about it.

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When is a dangerous drug not a dangerous drug?

Judging from this BBC report about the possible downgrading of the drug ‘ecstasy’, the answer would appear to be “when the British government puts it in the ‘dangerous’ category”.

Over the past few months in Japan, there have been a number of cases of young people arrested for possession of marijuana (which name has an interesting etymology) , including university students, which naturally has created a panic mentality amongst university administrators. When an advisory announcement was made by my university, requesting that seminar teachers bring students’ attention to the criminality of drug use. In Japan, cannabis is illegal and possession is a criminal offence.

The advisory notice warned that drug use is illegal, a criminal offence, can lead to addiction, crime and in the worst case, death. The advisory notice made no distinction between “hard” and “soft” drugs (this Wikipedia entry has a very clear and useful Venn diagram which I wish I’d discovered sooner), and lumped cannabis together with glue/thinner, and all manner of depressants and stimulants.

The advisory notice asked full-time teachers, especially seminar teachers, to bring the facts to the attention of students. Although I technically do not have a seminar, I teach a group of 16 students 6 times a week. I took the opportunity to introduce my EFL/cross-cultural classes to the legality of cannabis in different countries, particularly  the UK. It was educational, for me as well as for the students.

Students found it interesting to learn that the penalties for cannabis use vary widely around the world, being less strict in the UK (compared to Japan) and rather more strict in China. In the UK, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had advised (since 1979!) that cannabis be classified as Grade C, which it eventually was in 2004. However, the council’s recommendation was overruled and it was reclassified as a Class B in January, 2009.

And today the BBC writes about another drug which the government is trying to reclassify, once more against the advice of its scientific advisory panel. Not only that, but one of panel is forced to apologize after remarking that ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding. Yes! What a ridiculous notion! Typical egg-head nonsense!

Horse-riding deaths: 100/year. Ecstasy deaths: 30/year.

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British news: migration

“It’s been too easy to get into this country in the past and it’s going to get harder,”

said a UK immigration minister, according to this BBC news article. The article contains a link to an interesting map showing “total numbers of Eastern European migrants in each local authority who registered for work between May 2004 and December 2007.”

The issue seems to be getting a lot of play in various newspapers and media. I wonder what’s behind this? The obvious answer is the recession (digression: a recession is when your neighbour loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours). It could certainly not be that there are others at work behind the scenes, taking advantage of the present situation to further an agenda of increased border controls and more rigid surveillance of the population. No, siree!

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