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You may or may not have heard about John Harris.
If so, I'm just joining the club. If not, I feel obligated to spread the word.

I used to think that a lot of the cover art for contemporary science fiction novels published within the past two decades were made by a bunch of people who subscribed to the same aesthetic, with a distinct feel to it that was kind of hard to describe (curse my lack of literary expressive vocabulary). If you read science fiction novels, or even browsed through the sci-fi/fantasy books section of your local (English-lanugage) bookstore, you should have seen the artwork.

But it turns out, it was by the same one guy, John Harris.
Check out his official gallery here: www.alisoneldred.com/divisionJ…

I always kind of liked science fiction artwork that evoked a sense of wonder, with a feel of surreal awe. The ending artwork for the anime Outlaw Star by Hikaru Tanaka, for example (He seems to have dropped off the interwebs btw and I can't really follow what he's doing now). But my self-recognition of my preferences never went beyond a nebulous and fuzzy "that kind of art" as I wasn't really able to express it in a single word or phrase or flailing around with adjectives in futile attempts to nail "it" down. I never really bothered to look up who the cover artists were on the books I bought either, and even if I did, it didn't stick long enough in my memory for me to write it down somewhere.
But then I was looking through the making of Destiny by Bungie -- which I really want -- and the name John Harris popped up. They showed some of his works on screen and mentioned it was one of their inspirations, and I thought, "huh, that's kind of cool, that's the stuff I like", but it still didn't really stand out. That was maybe spring of this year, winter last year.

Then I was looking for some inspiration for some more recent artwork projects, suddenly remembered that there was a guy who was the inspiration for the aesthetic for Destiny -- which I really really want -- and googled it.
I found the name, googled that, and the rest is what I mentioned above, with a big "holy shit it's all this ONE guy!" moment. It all kind of crystallized in me, as now I could browse through a comprehensive collection of the stuff I realized I liked much more easily, and I could start to build a more concrete definition of what I liked and what I want to be able to do.

So yeah, I now can blurt "John Harris!" when someone asks me what my favorite artist is, instead of giving a waffling answers like "well there isn't really one guy but...".
Before, the one name I could give to that question from early on was Yoji Shinkawa from the Metal Gear Solid fare. But looking back, it's now a bit of a love-hate thing, on how I may have been exposed to his stuff too early and how his influence might have screwed me over. I saw his stuff for MGS, thought in my teenage years, yes that is awesome! I want to draw like that! and tried to ape his abstract style without actually knowing how to draw normally. I feel that kind of derailed my growth and my goals to a certain extent, and I haven't been able to emulate the style with much success neither.

But now I can start to worship someone else now.
I might be saying the same thing about myself 10 years down the line, but who knows.

So everyone go buy his art book. I did and it is awesome.
The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon
I think it's time for my biannual session where I try to guess my dA login password! Weee!
And yes, I guessed it correctly since you are seeing this.

So this is what's been happening in the last half year, in non-chronological order.

- moved
- had my old computer broken by the movers
- got a new computer with ridiculous RAM
- found out too much jalapenos makes my bowels implode
- watched the Bourne Legacy
- finally played MGS3
- got married
- finally got cavities after a quarter century of complacency
- found out buying new socks every time I lost track of matching pairs was a bad idea
- broke my 360
- watched the new Nanoha movie
- got a new 360
- didn't die
- changed my last name
- finally paid off my smartphone
- lost 6 kg in weight
- developed an acute red bull addiction
- drew lots of pictures

That's about it. This is all true. Except the last one.
A great way to find out who stole your art, is to go on to Google Image Search, and simply drag-and-drop your search image onto the search area.
Google returns all instances of images that "looks like" what you asked it to find.

I've known about it, but I hadn't tried it until now.
The results were ... pretty interesting. It turns out a lot of my stuff HAS been stolen and posted elsewhere.

By "stolen", I mean posted elsewhere without my knowledge or consent, even if they give me credit (which they almost never do).
Whining about that might be a moot point in this day and age of the "information wants to be free yo" internet, but still ... that technically counts as stealing, you know.

I'm willing to call it a badge of honor that someone thought it was worth the effort to copy and post it to their Tumblr (which I personally consider the ultimate rip-off-the-internet machine btw) ... so far.  But that's for me and me alone to decide, and also my decision to make about when to overturn that and start calling out people for stealing my shit.

Would I be an asshole for doing that? Maybe.
Do I have the right to do that? You betcha.

I've been kinda lazy about putting in that ugly watermark on dA posts as of late, but maybe I need to start putting it in again ...
... but logging in to find more than a thousand feedback messages at the top of the screen just destroys my will to even look through them.

No offense meant, and make no mistake, I really appreciate it ... in a sort of abstract sense ... it's just that my "people-person" skill is low enough that I avert my eyes and sigh rather than squeal in delight when I see more correspondence than I can handle.
I will be going to Seattle for some family-related matters on July 22.

I thought the ticket prices wouldn't spike until it hit August, so I filed for days off from work accordingly ... but apparently it does in July and now I have been thoroughly gouged by Delta Airlines.

I think I'll be living on plain udon for some time to come ...
Microsoft
Games I want:
Tomb Raider - omg Lara Croft looks like a real person now (albeit with the squeenix touch) and not like a blowup sex doll with guns! Imagine that! Oh, and the rest of the game looks beautiful too.
Mass Effect 3 - Voice control is gimmicky and dumb, but the game itself looks sweet. I need to get and beat ME2 first though. ME1 was cool.
Modern Warfare 3 - Looks the same as the first two, but I liked CoD4 and MW2, so that's not really a problem here.
Battlefield 3 - EYES AND MIND BLOWN.

Games that look interesting, at least:
Halo 4 - Continuing the story is always welcome. Not getting hopes up high for gameplay though, but there's too little to tell. The biggest motivations behind me buying the Halo games is to see if any more of the Forerunner mysteries have been revealed in the new game. Maybe I should just forget the games and go buy the new novels by Greg Bear when they come out.
Elder Scrolls Skyrim - Not really into fantasy roleplaying games in this style, but it looked impressive nonetheless.

Kinect - NO.  
I sense a trend here, with the Kinect being awesome in many aspect, games not being one of them.
It's proving to be a ridiculously awesome tool for homebrew hacks, whether it's building a 3D point-cloud map of the environment like this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm1Juu… www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu5Yww… ... or going Super-Sayan: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lajP7H… ... or fulfilling some deep repressed Hatsune Miku fantasy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDlvn3…
And kids are annoying.  YEAH FISTBUMP!

Bing on Xbox Live - meh.




Sony
Ok so they are sorry.
I personally don't own any Sony gaming devices except an old used PS2, and since I have no digital identities or credit card accounts in the care of said corporation ... this whole Sony hacking fiasco has been, to use a Japanese proverb, a fire on the other side of the river.

The one thing that wow-ed me was Sony's TV, where you could use the 3D glasses to play "split-screen" using  the entire image for two people. That is pretty awesome.

Uncharted 3 looked nice, but I fell asleep before they got to the Vita or Vista or whatever it's called.




Nintendo
Miyamoto with an interpreter on stage was kind of funny in an awkward way.
It's clear that they rehearsed what to say, and the interpreter started saying things that Miyamoto hadn't actually said yet.

Miyamoto: We hope you'll have a great time with the 3DS!
Interpreter: We hope everyone will have a great time with the 3DS, with lots of fun and exciting games!
Miyamoto: It has lots of fun games!
Interpreter: Uh ... because the games are fun ...



The WiiU.
I've already made fun of the name, and I still stand by it.

When I saw leaked pre-E3 reports about how Nintendo's new gaming system is going to be a HEUG controller with a 6-inch screen inside it, I laughed it off with the rest of the crowd, saying there's no way it could be something that ridiculous.
And then it proved to be real.
And I am confused.

I don't know what to make of it.
Being a high-performance machine is certainly welcome, and if there's no more barriers to porting games as Reggie claims, that would be nice.
But I don't think I am alone in being a lazy bastard who thought that even waggling the Wiimote for games like Zelda was tedious and annoying.

As for games:

Skyward Sword - Not sure of it yet. It looks brighter and friendly colored so it doesn't have the visual impact that Twilight Princess had in terms of a new and dark atmosphere, or Wind Waker with it's cel shading. I'm still looking for more things to be impressed by.

Mario Kart 3DS - They introduced it as being totally new and revolutionary, and showed us a Mario Kart with a hang glider stuck on the kart. Ok, so that's new and expands on the familiar ... but it's not totally revolutionary like they touted. I kind of laughed at that. Look fun anyways.
Star Fox 3DS - I am a fanboy, I swore my allegiance to Star Fox 64 and not the other knock-offs that came after it, and thus the compulsion to get the remake out of sheer loyalty is there. It doesn't look bad either.
Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS - Been there, done that ... it was a great game but not really interested in buying a remake if I don't have to.
Paper Mario - A new game, sort of. I've always liked this series, and I'll be getting this too.
... and a whole bunch more which don't look bad but doesn't really stand out either.
So innovative .... in thinking up new ways to get themselves mocked.

Really Nintendo?
Wee-yoo?

The Wii was at least a simple name and easy to say.
The WiiU doesn't even have that.

My friend helpfully redirected me to this vid www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JElyw…
Well, that was quick.
It took less than 24 hours from noticing I might be sick while hanging out, to moaning in agony at home, to a full recovery with temperature back down to normal. My temperature ran up to 38.6 C (101.5F) yesterday evening.
I think this might be a new record, even for me.

I try to keep of the meds since cold medication makes symptoms bearable but tends to prolong the actual sickness ... but it was sure tempting last night.



An acquaintance I know has uploaded some music.
Sunrain (Ash Ra Tempel Cover) by Harry Star.

Nice relaxing tunes, good when getting some work done.
  • Listening to: Sunrain (Ash Ra Tempel Cover)
My friend took the liberty of sharing that horrible song with me the other day.

But I can't really seem to tell the difference between it and Black Eyed Peas' "I gotta feeling".

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRR…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSD4vs…

Then again, the one thing that I have never been praised for is my taste in music.
Some corrections to the my previous post.
I find that writing it out here helps me organize it in my head too, so I can better explain it to others.
  • I blamed the hoarders for hoarding supplies that should go to the disaster areas, but it's not quite that simple, it seems.
    If it were directly related, then it would imply that the disaster relief supplies were being bought off from store shelves, which would be a funny sight. It's likely being diverted further up the supply chain, before it ever reaches the stores, so hoarding is not directly affecting how much goes to the disaster victims.
    However, the government is calling out to stop hoarding, only because it's making life harder for people living in Tokyo who are missing out on normal daily supplies, and is hampering a return to normalcy. Even if I'm not hoarding, if people in line before me buys out a truckload of toilet paper, I'm in a world of trouble (I don't have the fancy butt-washing apparatus on my stall at home, and I am down to three rolls as of this post).
    The best thing a Tokyoite can do is to live, work, and play the same as before, spending money and turning the wheels of the economy properly to keep Japan working normally. Hoarding doesn't help -- especially my bathroom sanitation needs.
  • Currently the official announced count of people who have exceeded the 100,000 μSv radiation exposure threshold is 6 people.
    100,000 was the original exposure limit, but considering the extraordinary circumstances, the limit has been raised to 250,000 μSv. Anyone who exceeds that amount are probably going to be sent home. The person (now people) exposed to over 100,000 aren't very sick as I wrote before. That was a slip-up of me mistaking it for 1,000,000 μSv.
  • I probably shouldn't have said "Nothing really to worry about." The people who live in Fukushima have a LOT to worry about with this nuclear issue, and the whole Pacific coast of the Northeastern regions are in pretty bad shape too.



And now new info.

First the bad news.

Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government Sir John Beddington has revised his outlook on the situation, taking into account the massive store of spent fuel rods this time. Link here --> ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?…

The US, UK, and over governments have followed suit in changing the suggested evacuation area from a 20 km radius to an 80 km radius (50 miles). The Japanese government still is maintaining their recommendation of a 20 km radius as the evacuation radius, and so foreign governments contradicting it is ... undiplomatic, sending a message that they mistrust the Japanese government. It shouldn't be taken lightly that they would do so.
But then again, the government response has been a mixed bag, ranging from admirable to horrible, but I'll save the blame game for another day.

This is due to the danger of a melt-down of the spent fuel rods, as I've explained before.
The fuel rods in the reactor core are in danger of melting down, and then exploding out from the containment chamber in one blast, sending radioactive crap flying up to 30 km (18 miles) out from the reactor facility. But the spent fuel rods, if they do melt down, would not be covered by water or shielding of any sort. It would be a longer and slower burn, with radioactive material being carried into the air in a radioactive plume by the super-hot zirconium casing bonfire.

The worst estimates of such a burn place it as creating an affected radius of 125 km (75 miles). That's more than half-way to Tokyo.
This is from a study conducted to see what the effects would be, if a terrorist attacked a nuclear power plant and stopped the cooling process of the spent rods. Link here (you may need to open the url twice) --> inderscience.metapress.com/lin…

The units associated with radiation are complex. The study I linked to above uses the Exabecquerels (EBq), which is 10^18, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Becquerels.
A Becquerel only measures the energy of radiation, whatever kind it may be. There are different kinds of radiation that does different kinds of damage on a human body, but Becquerels ignores all that and simply expresses it in terms of energy. If you were to be hit by a metal object, the damage done would be a lot different depending on if it were a baseball bat or a sword. But with the Becquerels, it ignores that and simply expresses how strong the object was swung.
When taking into account the effects radiation has on the human body, only then does the Sievert (Sv) comes into play. This can be regarded as a more straightforward unit when dealing with radiation sickness. The more the worse the effect it has on health. The sharper the metal object, the higher the number.

The study gives two models.
One is the author's own simulation, which puts the radius of affected area on a calm day at 40 km (25miles). Within that radius, the dosage would be 50,000 μSv over 6 hours. That's the same as the annual allowed radiation exposure for typical police or rescue workers that may encounter radioactive situations. Worse but not so bad.

But, the study references another study, this one comparing it to how much stuff was released in Chernobyl.
For the same concentration of radioactive material that would cause a certain amount of cancer in a population, the radius of Chernobyl was at 14 km, compared to 126 km for a typical amount of radioactive material stored in the spent fuel rod pools.

But that number is for a calm weather conditions, and Sir John points out a far-out scenario in which it might reach Tokyo.

To quote ...

"Well of course there is an implausible worst case. So let’s take for example the weather. You could have gale force winds operating for a period of 10 days entirely in the direction of Tokyo & therefore carrying any radiation at lightening speed ..."


Not very likely. But now within the realm of possibility, and with grim consequences.

If this does happen in a freak accident of nature, Tokyo residents would need to stay indoors for a maximum of 48 hours.

The French were the first to order an evacuation of Tokyo, and they were ridiculed as needlessly cautious and fueling the panic of a radioactive apocalypse (especially because of their stereotyped reputation ...). Most people who had common sense laughed at them when the spent fuel rod pools weren't an issue (including me), but now it looks like their decision had some merit after all and were thinking ahead the most. Damn.



But now for the good news.

First of all, the polar jet stream current passes over Japan at all times of the year. It kind of winds here and there depending on the day, but it's one of the two persistent streams of wind on this Earth at high altitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, that flows from West to East. That's why plane rides from America to Japan take about an hour longer than going from Japan to America.

Wikipedia image --> upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia…

Although the jet stream isn't always mirrored near the surface, the general wind patters tend to follow the west-to-east format.
As long as that doesn't double-back on itself in freak weather patterns, any radioactive spewage would be expected to be blown out to sea and dissipate long before causing any harm. Residents of Hawaii and the West Coast of America may panic again, but remember the prediction that it will take an extraordinary effort on the part of Mother Nature to blow the radioactive crap to all the way to Tokyo 200 km (120 miles) away. Seattle is 7700 km (4800 mile) away. Los Angeles is 8800 km (5500 miles) away. If they were that close, my trips back and forth would be cut to 1/40th the time!

Also, the desperate attempts to pour water into the tanks with firetrucks is working, and the temperature of the spent fuel pools pool is going down.
It is now under 100 degrees Centigrade, below the boiling point of water. Meltdown would have occured at 1100 degrees.

Also, long power lines have been finally drawn from other grids and are now being connected to the cooling systems. I believe crews are working now to make sure it works when they flip the switch.

So the chances of the worst-case scenario described above is looking more and more distant. Yay!



Right now, this guy seems to be doing the best job of gathering info on the whole situation.
Except for what I've seen myself on the streets of Tokyo, all the info that I've gathered, he has on his site, so basically I've only been picking and summarizing what this guy has compiled.

Great Tohoku Earthquake (Latest)

Check it out if you're interested or worried.
  • Listening to: Yellow Line
First, I thought about writing an entry describing how Tokyo is now a deserted radioactive wasteland where mass exoduses are taking place as people flock in panic from a broken and starving megalopolis. It would certainly be easy enough to find supporting evidence from all the "news" outlets reporting on this.

But since I'm SO nice, I might as well give a truthful run-down on the current situation.
Unless you've been following the situation closely on various scientifically literate blogs or the actual International Atomic Energy Agency sites, what I've seen on the web has led me to believe that most of America thinks Japan now is something like what I described above.


Tokyo
  • Rolling power outages: Since the one of the world's biggest nuclear power plant that supplied a good portion of the electricity to the greater Tokyo area is down, Tokyo and the surrounding areas are taking turns undergoing power outages in 3 hour segments.
    Everyone is pitching in, a lot of stores are closing early or are open but dark, and we even manged to postpone the outages for two days because everyone conserved so much more than expected.
    But the middle of Tokyo is exempt from the outages to keep government running, and I happen to live in one of the exempt areas. Win!
  • Supplies: Dumb people are hoarding stuff they don't really need from stores. A quick trip to my local supermarket showed that the shelves for rice, cup noodles, bread, tea, milk, toilet paper and tissue paper to be empty. But the shelves for vegetables, fish, meat, pre-made bentos (basically the deli section), snacks, and soda were fully stocked. So people aren't starving, but just buying things they think are disaster supply-ish.
    This would be but a minor nuisance if it weren't for the hoarding idiots even hoarding fuel and non-perishable foods desperately needed in the actual disaster areas.
    So to repeat, there is no actual shortage, but only the illusion of shortages in stores because idiots are buying far more than they need.
  • Stores: The lights are darkened to save power but all are mostly open. But even though this solidarity that Japanese people have been showing was useful for saving power, there's also a general mood of self-restraint in having any fun that people are observing as well. So restaurants are suffering a sharp loss of revenue as people stay home even though they don't need to. All of them probably eating their hoarded ramen.
  • Radiation: No worries at all. Contrary to what news reports are saying, (OMG PANIC!!!!11!1) there is absolutely no need or reason to be worried about the radiation from the nuclear reactor in Tokyo.
    It's true that there was an increase in the observed levels ... about a hundred thousand times smaller than the levels that people start to notice any symptoms.


To explain the radiation a bit.
The units in use are called Sieverts (Sv). 1/1000 of a Sievert is called a milliSievert (mSv) , and 1/1000000, that's one-one millionth is called a microSievert (μSv).
Also, an important point is how strong is different from how much the radiation is.
Since a Sv is a dosage amount, the intensity has to be measured divided by time, like Sieverts per year, or microSieverts per hour. That's the same as how one meter or mile is not the same as meters per second or miles per hour.
Protip: The first clue that someone doesn't know what the hell they're talking about, is that they don't make the distinction between μSv and μSv/hour.

I'll explain the scale of radiation a bit, about how much would affect you in what ways.

  • Getting a standard chest X-ray is 50 μSv.
  • Standing around a (non-broken) nuclear power plant for a whole year will also get you a dose of 50 μSv.
  • A round trip from Tokyo to New York will net you 200 μSv. The earth's atmosphere shields the surface from a lot of cosmic radiation, and going higher up in the air means less air to block all the rays from space.
  • The average person receives about 2,400 μSv per year. This comes from various minutely naturally radioactive things in the environment. Bananas will sometimes set off sensitive terrorist alarms because they tend to accumulate potassium, which some types are slightly radioactive.
  • Getting a full-body CAT scan is equal to 6,900 μSv.
  • A frequently cited place is Guarapari, Brazil which apparently gets a lot of sunshine (solar radiation), and the resident's average annual dosage is 10,000 μSv per year.
  • Any person working in a potentially radioactive environment is allowed to be exposed up to 50,000 μSv per year.
  • You will start to show symptoms (maybe not noticeable to the person) if you get more than 200,000 μSv in one sitting. (presumably a few hours).
  • Personnel doing emergency work are allowed up to 250,000 μSv per year
  • Nausea, vomiting at 1,000,000 μSv all at once.
  • Loss of consciousness at 3,000,000 μSv if absorbed all at once.
  • Skin is corroded and permanent impotence 5,000,000 μSv taken all at once.
  • 7,000,000 μSv all at once will kill you.


An important thing to remember with radiation, is that a normal healthy body will always be working to recover any damages.
So getting 100 μSv/hour doses for 1 hour (100 μSv) a day, over the course of 10 days, is much less damaging then getting a 100 μSv/hour dose in one 10 hour session.
Some cancer treatments try to kill tumors with radiation, and the dosage equivalent is 60,000,000 μSv -- enough to kill you more than 8 times over. But because it's spread over several weeks, you don't die and you come out of it mostly alive.

So what was the increase in radiation in Tokyo?
Well, the normal background radiation present in Tokyo is about 0.2 μSv/hour.
When the nuclear reactor started spiking a few days ago, the radiation levels rose a whopping 0.7 μSv/hour, going up to an amazing 0.9 μSv/hour. Wow!
That means, if I stood out in the middle of Tokyo, removed any clothing that might block radiation, and soaked in the rays from the reactor 200 km away buck naked spread-eagle for a year (assuming the reactor kept up the peak radiation amounts for that long), I would be catching less radiation than two 12-hour trips on a plane. The only scary thing about the whole deal is the mental image of me nude burned into all of your minds right now. Mwahahaha.

To sum it up, the only thing out of ordinary in Tokyo is the occasional power outages, a few old buildings in bad shape from the quake with a crack or two, and the reduced number trains (since they run on electricity too).

But, you say, if the nuclear reactor blows, won't Tokyo turn into a Mad Max/Fist of the North Star radioactive wasteland?

Well, no.
This might be pretty bad for the immediate areas around the power plant, but Tokyo will be unaffected by the radiation.


Fukushima

The nuclear power plant in question is the Fukushima Dai-ichi Genshiryoku Hatsudensho (Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant No. 1).
It has 6 reactors total, with construction starting in 1968 and the first reactor coming online in 1971, so it's quite old.
Reactors 5 and 6 are the newest, and they have been mostly shut down successfully, so I won't talk about them.

Nuclear reactors basically work by heating water with nuclear fuel, and using the steam to spin a turbine connected to a generator. That's all there is to it. For all the space-agey sound of "nuclear power", the only thing that has changed since the 19th century is that nowadays we use uranium or plutonium instead of wood or coal to boil water and make it do useful stuff.

There are a lot of details, but in essence, nuclear power plants run off of nuclear fuel. These nuclear fuels are stuff that, when placed close together in high concentrations, produce a great amount of heat as it gradually transmutes into other elements.
Left alone, the bunch of fuel material will keep on getting hotter and hotter until it melts everything, so it needs to be constantly be kept in check with water cooling it, and control rods, which are materials that slow down the nuclear reactions.

So what actually happend?

... I'll let Wikipedia handle the details! --> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushim…

But basically, as the tsunami killed the cooling mechanisms and all its backups in place, the nuclear fuel started getting hotter and hotter, leading to all sorts of problems.

The reasonable worst-case scenario, as outlined by Sir John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government here ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?… , is that if the cooling of the nuclear fuel fails and cannot be brought under control, an explosion may contaminate a radius of up to 30 km. That's 18 miles to you Americans.
That would certainly ruin a lot of people's days but that wouldn't affect anybody in Tokyo, what with being 200 km (120 miles) away. Even if all four reactors exploded, that would still be 30 km. Maybe the area would be contaminated with 4 times as much radioactive stuff, but it wouldn't go beyond that.

The run-away heat would cause a melt-down, with the super-hot nuclear fuel melting through the metal shell and puddling on the concrete floor, where maybe contact with water would cause a steam explosion.

Now, I know the word "Chernobyl" has been tossed around a whole lot these days, but as Sir John explains, the make of the reactor at Fukushima is fundamentally different.
The Russians used graphite in the core, which after the core exploded, immediately caught on fire and burned for months. This created an updraft, which carried radioactive crap up to 10,000 meters (30,000 feet), basically cruising altitudes for jetliners. There it was sprinkled around the environment. What made Chernobyl so bad was not so much the radiation from the plant itself, but that after the contaminants were spread on crops and water from the area, they were eaten and drunk by the poor unsuspecting Ukrainians (then a part of the Soviet Union), and radioactive stuff piled up inside people. And since we know about that now, there are plenty of ways to look out for it.
At Fukushima, the reactor casing is much sturdier, and encased in a concrete containment walls, so there would be only one explosion throwing stuff up to 500 meters.

But the more worrying thing about the reactors are the spent fuel rods.
As the fresh nuclear fuel is used, it transmutes into other elements. But "spent" doesn't mean it's totally inert ... just that it's not as efficient at making heat as the fresh fuel rods.
The fuel rods are spent after a few years but as you may have heard somewhere in the news occasionally, there is no good way to get rid of nuclear waste products. Some have tried really expensive concrete "caskets" while others have tried burying it deep in a mountain, but there's no good way right now. So many of them just sit in giant water pools at the power plants, numbering many times more than the active ones in the core. And the spent fuel rods still give off heat too, so they have to be cooled as well.
People have figured that if the plants themselves are equipped with cooling mechanisms and are guarded from terrorists, it might as well be the best place to store the spent fuel as well. They don't have to risk shipping it somewhere else either. So the spent fuel rods are sitting in a giant pool, not in any metal or concrete containment shells like the reactor core itself. The only thing shielding the radiation from the spent fuel rods is the meters and meters of water.

But now, the spent fuel is also not being cooled, and the water is being slowly boiled off.
Once all the water is boiled away, there is nothing to keep the spent fuel rods from getting hotter and hotter, and the zirconium casing will eventually catch on fire (basically anything will burn if hot enough). Then you have Chernobyl all over again, with radioactive contaminants being carried up by fire and being spread all over the environment.

For Chernobyl, the affected radius was still within the 30 km range, but a study doing a simulation has predicted that, since modern power plants store a large amount of spent fuels, some models predict that them catching on fire will spread radioactive waste over a maximum radius of a whopping 125 km radius. (73 miles). Still not far enough to reach Tokyo, but close enough to be unsettling.

Anyways, that is the true worse-case scenario, so the workers with the help of the US Armed Forces in Fukushima are risking their own lives at the moment, trying to use firetrucks to spray water and replenish water to the pools where the spent fuel is stored.

The last news I heard was that it was semi-under control but they're going to have to think of a fundamental solution pretty quickly.
The workers are being exposed to radiation in all their efforts, and they shouldn't have to suffer.



So again, to reiterate and sum up the situation in Japan ...

  • The Touhoku North-eastern regions are devastated by the quake and tsunami, with the dead and missing in the tens of thousands.
  • Tokyo was shaken a little, but very little if any has toppled.
  • No food shortages in Tokyo, but idiots are hoarding, and hoarding is hampering getting supplies to the disaster areas.
  • There is an electrical power shortage, so different regions of Tokyo are taking turns with rolling blackouts.
  • Public transit is being cut back in response
  • People are cooperating 120% with the power savings, but also not shopping and spending with needless self-restraint, making shops suffer revenue loss
  • The nuclear power plant powering Tokyo has shut down, and has lost control over its nuclear fuel.
  • There are already high levels of radiation by the plant, and one worker has received a significant dose (100,000 μSv? in 10 minutes) to make him quite sick.
  • The immediate areas around the nuclear plant may suffer contamination if worst comes to worst.
  • Tokyo will not be affected in any way by the radiation even if the nuclear power plant blows in the worst case scenario.


Nothing really to worry about. Don't believe all the lies and ridiculous stories about a mass exodus or radiation scare on CNN and Faux News. I've had to try to convince Mom back in America that I don't need to evacuate Tokyo.

But personally, I've suffered a terrible loss ... words cannot express my dismay at how Madoka Magica has been cancelled last week and this week. DAMN YOUUUUU EARTHQUAAAAKE!!!
  • Listening to: TRON Legacy soundtrack
  • Drinking: Honey Lemon Fanta
Holy crap that was big.
And sporadic aftershocks are still continuing some pretty big.

Mostly fine here in Tokyo, but I had to watch live footage of a huge tsunami wash over and engulf and destroy homes and fields up north in the Miyagi prefecture. The aerial view of a flaming mass of debris, cars, and water swallowing everything in its path was ... disturbing.
Very large tsunamis alerts all along the Pacific side of Japan, the largest up to 10 meters are expected near the epicenter.
Tokyo coastal regions are expected to experience up to 1m, which I'm not too worried about, since the levees on the river I live next to are a lot higher than that.

There's a lot of earthquakes here, but this is the first time that something has toppled.
I held onto my flatscreen monitor, but one of my stacks of books and a case of DVDs and a DVD-R spindle fell off the shelf ... and that was it.

I've ignored dA for months now, but just wanted to let you all know, shit went down, but I am fine.
The phones are down and Twitter seems to be the best source of info apart from TV news broadcasts.
Remember this?

The Dungeon - fav.me/d2o7sf9

The game is on sale now, so I recommend checking it out.
I don't have an iPhone, but people seem to like it so far, and my friend is working on adding more features.

iPhone app: itunes.apple.com/app/the-dunge…
Official site: jtiv.net/
Youtube trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNWe5Q…
  • Listening to: ELLEGARDEN - Salamander
  • Reading: CCNP SWITCH 642-813 Official Certification Guide
  • Drinking: Red Bull
Too lazy.
Not going this year.



In other news, I'm considering maybe getting the new Pokemon game.
I've been ignoring Pokemon for more than a decade, and I don't know if I can forgive myself if it turns out I like it after all this time ... but seeing everyone around me buy it makes me want to jump on the bandwagon.

Also, the new Pokemon games have great piracy protection.
I'm sure most of you have heard of R4s, those nifty devices that let's you "back up" (read: pirate) DS games. Starting with a major lawsuit against one of the manufacturers of those theft-promotion gadgets, Nintendo has been opening major cans of whoopass on them recently.
I don't pirate games, so I'm fully cheering on their efforts with a ridiculous grin.

And the latest Pokemon is made so that, as long as you are using an R4 or the like, you will not receive any experience points in any battles.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX7wtN…

If this keeps up, I may have to dust off my neglected Nintendo fanboy membership card again.



But I do have to get myself a copy of Halo Reach.
The Asian version is by far the cheapest, but I'm still undecided if the "authentic" American packaging is worth the extra $10 compared to the Chinese logos.
The Asian versions have exactly the same contents as the American version, so once the disc is in the 360, there's absolutely no difference. But having a different language on the box and disc makes it seem like a knock-off version ...

The pragmatist and perfectionist in me are fighting each other even as I type this out :)
  • Listening to: JAM Project - GONG
  • Eating: Melon bread
  • Drinking: Straight tea
My apartment (maybe my room only since I'm such a slob) has a slight ant infestation problem. I'd see a couple an evening, and squashing them with my thumb was becoming a routine event these past few weeks.

Today I was cleaning my room, when I noticed there were more ants in a particular dark corner.
I lifted an envelope on the floor, only to find that particular envelope hiding a horde of ants.
A three inch diameter patch on the tatami mat was a writhing black disc.
I fetch my cockroach spray, and give it good strafing runs.
I half-expected them to run about in mortal panic and just spread the mass, but to my surprise, the ant horde just stops and dies on the spot.
If there was one thing mankind was good at, it's killing things, and today I am quite thankful for that legacy.

I think I have the urge to name the insecticide can Charlene and talk to it every day now.
  • Drinking: The blood of my enemies
OK, so let me explain first.

I initially had two projects going for Comic Market.
One for contributing to a Star Fox/Smash anthology book, which took longer than expected, and another original comic that was supposed to expand the recognition of my name beyond "that starfox guy". -- not that I didn't like it, but I wanted people to know I was more than that, if you know what I mean.

So I got to work on the Star Fox comic first since it was a joint project and I couldn't let the others down. And I got that finished, not really on time, but still it was done.

But that left little time to work on my original comic, which was bad for me, since I am a somewhat of a perfectionist. Meaning my motivation tanks when faced with a project that I know I can't really finish. Sometimes I can just fool myself into starting, and then I'll be able to pat myself on the back for just getting something in no matter how crappy it is, but if I slip and let myself be aware that it's going to be crappy at best even before pulling out of the garage, so to speak, then I can't force myself to do any work. At all.

And my original work was suffering from that heavily.
Meaning I had nothing down on paper like two weeks before the big event.

So last night, after talking to a friend or two, I realized this project had turned into something that I really didn't want to do, nor was I enjoying it in the least bit.
I managed to gather the courage, and said "F*CK IT" to it and abandoned it entirely.
I'll be wasting a coveted booth space at Comic Market, but oh well. I still have the early entry tickets. Mwahahahaha.


So I am a free man now.

I can clean my room!
I can go buy Dead Space and Mass Effect! (Not 2, but 1)
I can go to my friend's surprise marriage proposal party!
I can work on other art projects that I really wanted to do!
I can work on my Cisco Network certification! (... well this one I'm not THAT excited about but I need to nonetheless)

Now if you will excuse me, I need to get to answering a whole bunch of emails and other correspondence that I've been putting off for the past few (several?) months.

But not before running around like a madman.

WOOOOOOOOO!!!



Oh, and after reading "FREE" by Chris Anderson (which I highly recommend by the way - www.amazon.com/dp/140131032X/ ), I've been convinced to go and post my comics here on deviantART once I get around to translating them from Japanese. At least the ones I'm not too ashamed of sharing.
  • Listening to: Theme d'Aikka
  • Reading: BLAME!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gx-UW…
My neglected website has been hijacked it seems.
Now my domain name points to a directory with several gigs of wedding photos, a couple gigs of movie files, some excel spreadsheets and some VB docs that seem like this person is practicing programming.

I'm giving it the DownThemAll treatment and rummaging through all the files while I plot my revenge.
MWAHAHAHAHA

One note: I'm pretty sure I haven't shared the URL here, but if you do know my website, please don't go rummaging through it ... it seems the person on the other end has a puny connection, so it'll slow down my download queue :)



Oops.

My friend who I've forced to take care of my web stuff says it's his friend's server.
Never mind then, carry on, I guess.
Finally getting around to throwing out my old manga magazines.
It seemed like a waste to just discard so I kept them around for a couple years, but I haven't done anything with them ... so time to throw them out, I guess. There's a whole bunch in the closet that I never really read more than a week after buying, and it's an ever-growing pile that's taking up precious room in my apartment.

Last autumn I calculated that if I stacked them all up in a single tower, it would reach about 3.5 meters in height, so I think it's safe to assume it's past 4 meters by now?

I looked up a local paper-recycling company and they do come to pick up stuff, so I told them I'd call them back again when I have it all bound and ready to be taken away.

Getting out the string and scissors now.
  • Listening to: Mizuki Nana - Don't be long
I think it started with this:

Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Symphony of Science)

Later it became a series called the Symphony of Science.

Symphony of Science - 'We Are All Connected' (ft. Sagan, Feynman, deGrasse Tyson & Bill Nye)

Symphony of Science - 'Our Place in the Cosmos' (ft. Sagan, Dawkins, Kaku, Jastrow)

Symphony of Science - 'The Unbroken Thread' (ft. Attenborough, Goodall, Sagan)

Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)

Truly inspiring.

mp3s (or FLACs if you want) are available for download at the link the uploader comments in the videos.
  • Listening to: Symphony of Science
  • Reading: BLAME! vol. 2
  • Watching: Symphony of Science