Roundup for Week 11

Monday 21 March 2011, 6.29pm HKT


The world around us for the week of 14-20 March 2011.

—♦—

That was the week that was

The Japanese Earthquake Tsunami Volcano Nuclear Meltdown Disaster of 2011

The Great East Japan Earthquake

Some Yankee psychos have decided that last week’s quadruple-whammy (a.k.a. The Sushi Moira) was overdue karma for Pearl Harbor — like, you know, the Japanese killed 2,400 in Pearl Harbor. Maybe the radiation cloud heading for the USA is also karmic payback for its own killing of 200,000 Japanese civilians, but who knows, right? Karma’s a bitch.

Some homey psychos in Hong Kong likewise decided that the Shake-Rattle-Boom-Bang was reverse karma for Japanese wartime atrocities — like, you know, the 3.9 million Chinese killed under the Sankō Sakusen (三光作戦 or 三光政策 : Three Alls Policy: ‘kill all, burn all, loot all’) when the Japanese tried to build the Dai-tō-a Kyōeiken (大東亜共栄圏 : Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere) (now APEC?). Maybe the radioactive cloud that will head towards the eastern seaboard of China by summertime when the winds change direction is also karmic payback for its own 24 million deaths during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution (plus the 20 to 43 million in the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward) — by who knows, right? Karma’s a bitch.

Then some anti-environmental psychos have decided it was karmic punishment for the Japanese being properly environmentally conscious, like Rush Limbaugh decided. Or for our general disobedience of the Ten Commandments, as American radio host and rant-master Glenn Beck would have it.

Karma’s a bitch. Personally, I don’t who she is, but Karma sure does sound like one seriously unkind lady.

Makes me sad about being alive. Sorry, you’re not My People. Which is why I’d rather go for [this].

* * *

Siege mentality taking hold on homeground

With Hongkongers steeped in media-induced fearmongering, supermarket shelves in many districts of Hong Kong are increasing left bare five days into Sushi’s Revenue (a.k.a. the J-Nuke situation). Even toni outlets such as City’super at our New York namesake Times Square — not known for reasonable price of anything — were seeing food shelves cleaned out by midmorning. There had been a day or two of people hoarding iodised salt, until the stupidness of the whole exercise quickly dawned on people when salt prices went cosmic.

More in this Naked Listener exclusive.

* * *

Capital punishment back in vogue

Taiwan resumes executions after a six-year moratorium since 2005, pleasing the domestic population but irking everybody else internationally, especially the EU. The latest executions of five men by firing squad took place on 11th March. The death penalty is still on Taiwanese lawbooks for 52 different violent and non-violent crimes.

* * *

‘Personhood’ laws: Kafkaesque insanity just got real

In the Land of the Wide-Awake Dreamers (i.e. the USA), ‘personhood’ laws that were claimed to protect pregnant are starting to take on an dystopian dimension, when you consider a woman was arrested for thinking about abortion after doctors and nurses decided upon their wisdom that she using her falling down a flight of stairs as a ploy to terminate her pregnancy.

These insane personhood statutes (already in force in some state jurisdictions) are being used to jail women who miscarry or suffer pregnancy complications for criminal misconduct. Bills to legislate personhood laws are winding their way in other states (on instigation by the anti-abortion lobby). Many countries are following America’s lead and are drafting similar personhood laws.

* * *

Business Inc. to become Government Inc.

While we’ve been distracted by the almighty mess in Japan, unsettling developments are taking shape in the USA — unsettling because other countries are highly likey to copy them for their own use. ‘Financial martial law’ legislation is being rammed through in Michigan that gives appointed CEOs the authority to run local governments and school boards, nullify collective bargaining rights, and give an unbelievable 86% tax cut to business while raising everybody else’s tax by 31%. The stuff in the movie “Robocop” wasn’t meant to be an operational manual, you know.

* * *

Internet ripe to become a vast spying network

The Internet could create a “totalitarian spying regime,” says Julian Assange, co-founder of Wikileaks. The technology that is the Internet doesn’t necessarily advance government transparency, freedom of speech or even civil life.

The upshot: what it does provide is an additional layer of enhanced surveillance of people by governments.

As to social networking sites and the Mideast unrest, Assange said social networking sites have played a much smaller role than the media and politicians have claimed. This is because, he explains with regard to Egypt, part of the standard operating procedure of revolutionaries is “Do not use Facebook and Twitter.”

* * *

Open admission on food inflation

For the first time, China now publicly admits to galloping food inflation and ‘urges’ (?) Hong Kong to deal with underlying causes and problems.

Strange why Hong Kong has to be told this in the same breadth. Is China blaming us for its lackadaisical governance? More ominously, is it a hint that it’s going to downsize food exports to Hong Kong? (14 March)

* * *

China usurps UK and USA

Last year, China overtook the UK as the world’s second-biggest market for art and antiques. It also overtook the USA as the world’s biggest goods producer by output also in 2010. [via Financial Times, Reuters, China Economic Review]

The first is more money than sense. The second is more sense for money.

* * *

Microsoft finally shuts down Windows Live Spaces

If you’ve not been sleepwalking for most of your life, it was ‘sayonara’ to your erstwhile Windows Live Spaces blogsite. Microshaft finally decided the blogosphere business wasn’t for them, but gracious enough to email users for months on end about the impending doom.

—♦—

Only I can see this

Sweet full circle

Table sugar is back in vogue as the preferred sweetener in food processing, but not for any genuine scientific or medical reason. In fact, it’s no better and no worse than other sugars.

Catering to the sensibilities of the marketplace, Starbucks, Snapple, Kraft and American food giant ConAgra have all recently ditched HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in favour of table sugar. To save HFCS’s faltering reputation, American food makers are petitioning the FDA to rebrand HFCS as “corn sugar.”

FACT: Table sugar had been the standard sweetener up until the 1970s when public opinion turned against it in favour of HFCS. Table sugar was associated (rightly) with tooth decay and diabetes, whereas fructose (predominant in fruit) seemed a more ‘natural’ choice.

FACT: Fructose and HFCS were sometimes cleverly disguised was ‘evaporated cane juice’ by food makers to help consumers along in making their choice. Since the 1980s, HFCS has been the standard sweetener in food manufacture.

FACT: Nutritionally speaking, table sugar and HFCS are practically identical. Table sugar (sucrose) and HFCS are both molecularly one part fructose and one part glucose, but only in different ratios in composition in the final sugar.

FACT: The main difference between table sugar and HFCS is in molecular bonding. In table sugar, fructose and glucose units are joined, but detached in HFCS. To the human digestive system, there’s no difference: the small intestine quickly breaks down the fructose-glucose bond in table sugar. Once broken, fructose and glucose are metabolised the same way whatever the source sugar.

So consumers are being taken for a sweet ride by food producers and vendors for choosing between two things that are in fact the same because there will always involve a price difference.

* * *

They chose not to see it

Where the spent rods are stored, unprotected

Did you see that? The spent nuclear fuel rods were placed in a pool next to the OUTER WALL of the reactor building. They designed the thing to protect the reactor, but they must have forgotten about protecting the spent rods. Wow, that’s some secure house. WTF.

* * *

It’s free, but you chose to pay for it

Stupid. Why would you build a string of expensive nuclear power stations all along the coast of an earthquake-prone country, constantly under threat from volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis? Why, when you can plug into your practically limitless geothermal energy for free? (10.43pm, 14 March)

—♦—

Paradiso e Inferno

Things happening in or around my life, even away from it

  • Twenty Israeli soldiers raided and wrecked my friend Ihsan’s home.
  • My bifocals are failing me — another expense.
  • Nothing seems to be working out for the whole week — which explains why my blogging effort has been lackadaisical.
  • I’ve seen faster snails than my browser (Chrome) after the two latest updates.
  • Lots of lost souls kept asking me about iodine and radiation.

Images:

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

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