Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weird news of the day

I never know where to put stories like these so they normally end up in my bookmarks until I decide to lump them together in a single post. Some of this might be old news by the time you read it but I found all of the stories interesting.

Holy Fukushima Batman! As I've lamented many times before the world seems to have moved beyond the Fukushima story because in our twitterfied world stories that take more than 14 seconds to develop are deemed unimportant (see the google trends info here on Fukushima searches which proves my point).

Tepco finally admitted a couple of weeks ago that there has, in fact, been a meltdown at Fukushima. However, yesterday it was released that Int'l Atomic Energy Association's simulations determined that a meltdown likely occurred just hours after the cooling systems failed. However, it took two months before this information made its way to the public.

"A meltdown occurred at one of the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant three and a half hours after its cooling system started malfunctioning, according to the result of a simulation using "severe accident" analyzing software developed by the Idaho National Laboratory.

Chris Allison [a former manager and technical leader at Idaho National Laboratory], who had actually developed the analysis and simulation software, reported the result to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in late March."

A simulation is not the same as having actual data and I can see the IAEA sitting on this info to prevent a panic but if there was a possibility of a meltdown I think that information should have been shared with the Japanese people. Separately, there have been some very extreme spikes in radiation levels coming from Fukushima lately that are either caused by malfunctioning readers or a dramatic worsening of the situation. It's something to monitor.

*** Interesting side note to the Google trends data. You would think that most of the Fukushima searches would be coming from Japan or other Asian countries but it appears that Germany, Austria and France are much more interested in the story as German cities occupy the top 5 searches in the world.

Note to self: If I'm ever nominated to become the transportation secretary for the US and I'm going to a press conference highlighting new fuel economy stickers -- DON'T TAKE A GIANT CHEVY SUBURBAN TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE!!

The hidden cost of World of Warcraft:

This is officially the craziest story I've ever heard - Chinese prison guards use prisoners as "gold farmers" in online games to earn points that were sold for real cash!

"As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.

Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

Hmm, I wonder if Gov. Cuomo has heard about this idea? Sarcasm off.


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