“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuclear Power as a Force for Good

The world's first peacetime use of nuclear power occurred when the US Government switched on Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 (EBR1) near Arco, Idaho on December 20, 1951. The town of Arco first got its electricity from the reactor on July 17. 1955. It was only temporary, but the way was paved for commercial use of nuclear power later in the decade. The Arco reactor suffered a partial meltdown -- another World's First, in 1955.


  1. Why is there no looting in Japan?
    By Ed West World March 14th, 2011

    Respect for property even in the middle of disaster (Photo: EPA)
    The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two; no industrialised country since then has suffered such a death toll. The one tiny, tiny consolation is the extent to which it shows how humanity can rally round in times of adversity, with heroic British rescue teams joining colleagues from the US and elsewhere to fly out.

    And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting, and I’m not the only one curious about this.

    This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

    Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?

  2. Japan is not Haiti ....
    Errol Phillips
    Japan is not Haiti ....

    Here is what to expect in the coming months out of the disaster that has affected Northeast Japan:

    How do I know .... I was living just outside of Kobe when the monstrous jishin (earthquake) hit in January 1995 and virtually destroyed the center of a major Japanese City killing 6,600 people covering a 20 mile swath. I was right in the middle.

    Down the street from where I lived a 7 story apartment building ended up being 4 stories. My next door neighbor died from a collapsed roof.

    When the quake hit, I thought it was a bomb going off.

    Here's what didn't happen:

    There was no looting or breaking into food stores

    There was no time for trying to blame anyone

    There was no one cutting in the front of the line to get water

    There were no calls to lawyers

    Here is what did happen:

    The people in the Kobe Area were not waiting around for a US Aircraft Carrier

    The Military was deployed immediately to dig and search.

    The Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) were the early suppliers of medical supplies and food (They had the connections and the means to get the material to the folks

    Within days Temporary housing was being constructed all over the Area

    Within days portable showers and toilet facilities were set up all over the Area

    Within days, supermarkets were opened and the queues stretched endlessly as they could only let a few people in the stores at a time. There was no anger, yelling, blaming, looting, cutting in front

    Within hours ... clean-up began by everyone .. students, teachers, seniors, yakuza, politicians. Everyone seemed to be contributing in some way.

    As a foreigner, I was treated like everyone else ....


    By the time I left Japan 4 years later, I would say 90 % of the entire City of Kobe had been rebuilt .... and consider that New York has been unable to erect a couple of building at ground zero now going on 10 years.

    So like I said, Japan is not Haiti...nor New Orleans. They don't need us...that is not to say they would not be unappreciative of any assistance. Probably the best thing we can do is provide helicopters, portable medical facilities and staffing if requested and search sniffing dogs.

  3. It is looking increasing likely they will have a full melt down. That won't be a force for good.

  4. .

    Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?

    There are a number of things to respect about the Japanese including their general respect for law and order. Like any culture, they also have some negatives.

    One thing they were noted for was a respect for the elderly. Yet reports I have seen over the last couple years indicate that it appears to be breaking down somewhat.

    Don't know if that was a factor in this crisis; however, I noticed in a few instances that as reporters (CNN mostly) were talking to the survivors of the hard hit towns that had escaped and were coming back to see the damage, it was all young people.

    Some of the survivors even mentioned that they were able to get out in time but the old people weren't. May be just an impression I got from the anecdotal evidence but it seemed like it was pretty much every man for himself.

    Of course, it's easy for me to say. Not sure how I would have reacted to the possibility of a tsunami rolling in.


  5. My vote for Barr was against Obama AND against McCain.

    If one takes the time to examine the ballot, the vote for the candidate is ALWAYS in the affirmative, for the candidate selected.

    Not AGAINST his opponent.

    A vote for McCain supports McCain and the policies he represents.

    A vote for Barr was both against Obama, McCain and the current state of the political system.

  6. LessonlearnedRufusMon Mar 14, 04:49:00 PM EDT

    I voted Against Obama last time, even though I agreed with his positions more than McAsshole's.

    I won't do it again. I'm pretty sure I'll vote For Obama the next time. The Republicans are just too corrupt in the matter of Energy.

  7. Being almost bankrupted in less than two years by the one in the WH.

    Dumb Fuck votes for more of the same!


  8. Ash:

    There will be no
    "Full Meltdown"
    if by that you mean melting through the containment.

    Remote possibility is they so mismanage things that a hydrogen explosion occurs inside the containment.

    I don't think that is even possible, but don't know.


    Radiation levels:

    There have been sporadic and inconsistent reports on the level of radiation measured at the plant. A number of reports have indicated an increase in ambient radiation measurements. This is to be expected due to the venting of steam containing minute amounts of radioactive nucleotides.

    Increases in background radiation may also occur due to smokey fires in the area, dust kicked up by collapsing structures and other sources of natural radiation. Because of this it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much can be directly attributed to the plant.
    A number of reports claimed levels at the plant had risen to anywhere from 70 microserviets per hour to as high as 882 microserviets per hour. There is very little context for these reports – it’s not clear whether this is the level on the plant grounds in general or at the point of the vapor release. It is also not clear whether this is a sustained reading or represents only a momentary high level.

    At this point all that can be said for sure is that there is no significant increase in ambient radiation beyond the plant boundary.

    There have also been reports of individuals who were “exposed to radiation.” There have been vague reports of three workers who may have received a high enough dose to necessitate medical attention. At this point there’s no solid information on what the doses may have been or the nature of the exposure (whether it was proximity exposure or contamination by radioactive material etc).

    At this point we simply do not have any context to the reports of individuals being “exposed to radiation.” However, there remains no evidence of the general public being exposed to radiation, despite some very dramatic photographs of school children being swept with Geiger counters.

  10. Anybody Dumb enough to argue with a Blog with a brilliant name like that?

  11. Tsunamis tend to produce two groups of people:

    Survivors and Dead.
    (and dead and missing)

    Tsunamis discriminate more than earthquakes.

    ie, young and old both die or are injured in a collapsed building.

    In a Tsunami, if you are young and fast enough, or young enough to hang out on your roof at sea, you might make it.

    Not so for Gram and Gramps.

    (that'd be us)

    Rufus would die for lack of brains no matter what.

    Just Grey.

    No Grey Matter.

  12. Obama is the pure one wrt energy:

    Putting all our readiest domestic energy resources off limits.

    Just what we need.

    Or, in BHO's "brain," what we DESERVE!

  13. A 9 point 0,

    an Epic Tsunami,

    and no significant radiation release.


  14. you see pretty confident doug...

    "TOKYO — Japan’s struggle to contain the crisis at a stricken nuclear power plant worsened early Tuesday morning, as emergency operations to pump seawater into one crippled reactor temporarily failed, increasing the risk of a wider release of radioactive material, officials said. "


    "¶ The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said late Monday that efforts to inject seawater into the reactor had failed. That caused water levels inside the reactor’s containment vessel to fall and exposed its fuel rods. The company said its workers later succeeded in infusing seawater in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning, but fuel rods were exposed for at least several hours.

    ¶ Workers had been having difficulty injecting seawater into the reactor because its vents — necessary to release pressure in the containment vessel by allowing radioactive steam to escape — had stopped working properly, they said.

    ¶ But Tuesday morning Tokyo Electric announced that workers had succeeded in opening a malfunctioning valve controlling the vents, reducing pressure in the container vessel. It then resumed flooding the reactor with water.

    ¶ The company said water levels were not immediately rising to the desired level, possibly because of a leak in the containment vessel. Still, a Tokyo Electric official said the situation was improving.


    n reactor No. 2, which is now the most damaged of the three at the Daiichi plant, at least parts of the fuel rods have been exposed for several hours, which also suggests that some of the fuel has begun to melt. Government and company officials said fuel melting has almost certainly occurred in that reactor, which can increase releases of radioactive material through the water and steam that escapes from the container vessel.

    ¶ In a worst case, the fuel pellets could also burn through the bottom of the containment vessel and radioactive material could pour out that way — often referred to as a full meltdown.

    ¶ "There is a possibility that the fuel rods are heating up and starting to melt,” said a Tokyo Electric spokesman told a late-night conference on Monday, televised on public broadcaster NHK. “It is our understanding that we have possible damage to the fuel rods,” he said.


    They’re basically in a full-scale panic” among Japanese power industry managers, said a senior nuclear industry executive. The executive is not involved in managing the response to the reactors’ difficulties but has many contacts in Japan. “They’re in total disarray, they don’t know what to do.”[TcsSaT,2]

    That isn't sounding too promising...

  15. Wife's car suffered greatest damage ever last year:

    Some weird tropical birdshit stuck on the roof and wrecked the paint.

    ...but it was still the worst ever.

  16. New York Times version 2, eh?

    "¶ In a worst case, the fuel pellets could also burn through the bottom of the containment vessel and radioactive material could pour out that way — often referred to as a full meltdown."

    I'm betting nothing will ever MELT it's way out.

    Here's Why:

    Decay heat tends to be reduced by a lot in the first day and then less so as time goes on.

    A rough estimate would be:

    At time of reactor stops: 7% of total thermal output

    Two hours: 1% of total thermal output

    One day: .4% of total thermal output

    One week: .2% of total thermal output

    One month: .1% of total thermal output

    So it’s been about three or so days, which means the decay heat being produced now is very roughly 3.5-.3% of the thermal output of the output of the reactor.

  17. This disaster belongs to Bush, and the Pubs; not to Obama. We were in a Global Financial Crisis when Obama took office.

    As for "Epic Fail:" It got cold in Texas and Coal, and Nat Gas failed. Earthquake in Japan, and Nuclear fails (costing investors in the Reactors All their money.

    What's working? Every day Wind, and Solar, and Biomass does just what it's supposed to. Produce Energy.

    A time and a place for everything, pineapplehead. And, this is NOT the "time" and "place" for Republicans.

  18. Exactly, Rufus, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid and Company have NOT radically increased Govt spending since they've been in charge.
    Blame Bush
    My Ass.

    Oops, I forgot:

    You're in favor of more government.

  19. BTW:

    These plants are operating beyond their 30 year design age.

    New plants would do even better.

  20. The Republicans put us in the mess, Doug. It cost money to get out of it. I, honestly, can't think of much that Obama's done that I disagree with.

  21. A chicken farmer went to a local bar.... Sat next to a woman and ordered a glass of champagne..

    The woman perks up and says, 'How about that? I just ordered a glass of champagne,too!'

    'What a coincidence' the farmer says. 'This is a special day for me.... I am celebrating'

    'This is a special day for me too, I am also celebrating!' says the woman.

    'What a coincidence!' says the farmer! As they clinked glasses the man asked, 'What are you celebrating?'

    'My husband and I have been trying to have a child and today my gynecologist told me that I am pregnant!'

    'What a coincidence,' says the man. 'I'm a chicken farmer and for years all of my hens were infertile, but today they are all laying fertilized eggs.'

    'That's great!' says the woman. 'How did your chickens become fertile?'

    'I used a different cock,' he replied.

    The woman smiled and said, 'What a coincidence.'

  22. NoGlowfromSolarRufusMon Mar 14, 07:22:00 PM EDT

    Explosion at Reactor No. 2. Radiation levels at 10,000 times normal. Japanese officials think Containment might have been breached.

    What wuz you sayin' BubbaDoug?

  23. .

    ...I, honestly, can't think of much that Obama's done that I disagree with.

    You are one person Rufus as is Doug and as such you are both rather irrelavant in the big pcture. In my opinion, and in most of the polls, the 'people' wanted Obama to concentrate on getting their jobs back. Instead, the Dems concentrated on agenda.

    Many aspects of that agenda were important to his base and they applauded him. And you have to admire the efficiency with which he, Reid , and Pelosi were able to "get it done".

    However, within the process, with their ruthless pursuit of agenda and ignoring the 'cry for jobs' they motivated the base on the right and turned off the independents who are the real movers and shakers these days.

    The result, the GOP win last year.

    Now, the GOP, proclaiming that they 'got the message' all across this country are now persuing their agenda. In typical politico speak, they are now saying they are creating jobs by cutting spending, taking away union rights, trying to starve Obamacare, cutting regulations on businees, and continuing subsidies to oil companies that make billions and pay no taxes.

    In two months, they have managed to completely reinvigorate the Dem base and I suspect turn off a good portion of the independent vote that got them elected.

    The people want jobs, the GOP gives us rhetoric and agenda. Just like the Dems before them.

    Neither party can seem to grasp the concept of priorities except those driven by agenda and their own political philosophy.

    Screw the people, we know best.

    Neither seems to realize that most of what they accomplish when operating like this is likely to be overturned when the other party eventually takes over again.


  24. Now, where does that leave us? My assessment:

    * The plant is safe now and will stay safe.
    * Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for anyone else.
    * Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed).

    Nuclear Reactors

  25. this is likely to be overturned when the other party eventually takes over again.

    The whole secret of the system, Q.

    ALL "Leaders" are assholes, and will kill us if left unchecked.

  26. Although Fukushima Daiichi units 1 and 3 posed the gravest dangers for now, Tokyo Electric said it was still working on its other units.

    Tokyo Electric also said it had released vapors with some radioactive materials at all four of the reactors at its second Fukushima complex — Fukushima Daini — on Saturday. After injecting water into the reactors, the company said that water levels were stable, off-site power restored, and shutdowns complete or in progress.

    Nonetheless, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Monday that Fukushima Daini units 1, 2 and 4 remained in a nuclear state of emergency.

    Cooling Capacity

  27. Quirk:

    Taking away the PUBLIC Union's "Rights" to launder money for corrupt politicians so they can give MORE of our money to the Corrupt Unions.

    Whether you think that is good or bad does not matter:

    Maggie's Truth Will Out:

    Sooner or later you run out of other people's money.

    We're Broke.

    Stealing MORE from our offspring is immoral imho.

  28. PissedRedneckRufusMon Mar 14, 07:49:00 PM EDT

    You might be broke, Doug; but Warren Buffet, and his buddies aren't. You know why? Because while you were paying almost half of your income in taxes they were paying 17%.

    Exxon doesn't pay taxes. Google pays 2%. GE? Donbesillie.

    McCain fights ethanol while we send a Billion Dollars/Day to the Sauds, and Co.

  29. Question:

    How would

    RufusWorld, aka


    be doing now on Japan's Northeast coast?

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Maybe we could dig out enough intact solar cells to charge our phones.

  32. Be doin fantastic. The Wind is blowing, the sun is shining, and the rice is growing.

  33. In screenings, higher-than-normal levels of radiation have been detected from at least 22 people evacuated from near the plant, the nuclear safety watchdog said, but it is not clear if the doses they received were dangerous.

    Technicians had been scrambling most of Sunday to fix a mechanical failure that left the reactor far more vulnerable to explosions.

    Reactor No. 1 and reactor No. 3 are both presumed to have already suffered partial meltdowns — a dangerous situation that, if unchecked, could lead to a full meltdown.

    Cooling Reactor

  34. Quirk: Now, the GOP, proclaiming that they 'got the message' all across this country are now persuing their agenda.

    Sure, that's why the next continuing resolution funds ObamaCare through September 30.

  35. British sniper takes out two Taliban fighters with a single bullet, achieving the rare feat of "one shot, two kills," known in the sniping business as a Quigley.

  36. .

    Whether you think that is good or bad does not matter:


    We're Broke.

    Irrelevant. At least when it comes to winning elections.

    I'm against public service unions especially their right to go on strike. Walker pushed through a bill to limit them in WI through some manipulation with the language of the bill. You could say he won. Yet he also completely reinvigorated the Dem base across the country. There were 100,000 people there to greet and cheer on the Dem legislators when they got back in state. Those legislators have vowed to reverse anything Walker did as soon as they get back in power.

    In D.C., Chairman Ryan will introduce a budget this week against the advice of the GOP leadership that he says will be balanced and help address the deficit problem. It will include major changes in entitlement spending. While I feel there are better ways to attack the entitlements than what he is suggesting, I also have to admit that the guy walks the walk. That being said, when he offered basically the same bill last year, he had a total of 13 Pubs who signed on with him. The 'massive' cuts the GOP wants take a small bite out of the 1/12th of the budget that is called discretionary spending, another euphemism since all spending is dicretionionary. This at the same time they defend subsidies to the oil companies on the basis that we need them to assure that the oil companies will stay in the US. Laughable. Ludicrous. Unctuous. Hypocritical. Paternalistic. Is it any wonder Congress' approval rating is so low?

    Here in MI, Snyder was elected governor in a landslide. In two months he has offered up a budget that is balanced. However, his pre-election pledge to not raise taxes has morphed into no 'net' increase in taxes. His budget gives big tax cuts to business (again under the assumption that that alone with encourage them to create jobs). He covers the cost by increasing taxes to retirees and the poor and lower middle class. His approval ratings have plummeted and he now has the AARP organizing against him.

    As you stated, whether I think what the GOP is doing is good or bad doesn't matter. The same can be said of you.

    You say we are broke. Doesn't matter. When you can print as much money as you want, it also is irrelavant, at least in the short run. What is more important, in the short run, is a 10% unemployment rate.

    The Dems lost last year because of hubris. The GOP is setting themselves up for a loss in 2012 because of hubris. The fact that a couple of bloggers prefer the GOP's hubris to the Dems? Irrelevant. The election won't be won by the partisans on the left or right but by independants in the middle.

    Right now, to my mind, they are looking a little sour.


  37. The President walks into a bar with a parrot on his head. The bartender says, "Where did you get that?" and the parrot says, "Kenya."

  38. "Y'know how much coke Charlie Sheen took?"

    "How much?"

    "Enough to kill 2 and a half men."

  39. Well Doug you may yet join Rufus in the pantheon of 'being wrong'. I hope not but...

    "Details of what happened remain unclear, with executives of Tokyo Electric Power, the plant’s operator, giving only preliminary reports and declining to answer questions from reporters pressing for more information, while repeatedly apologizing “for causing concern and inconvenience.” "

    which, in light of the Japanese penchant for deference for authority and understatement, could be prophetic.

    'ooops, sorry for the inconvenience of a meltdown but...' *bow* *bow*...

  40. The Egyptians want a new Muslim leader. I say give them OURS. Solves two problems.

  41. ms. T, you are trying hard but...

  42. To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush’s Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery. A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million. In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers.

    Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips.

  43. The Regents of the University of Washington generally only admit under conditions of duress – waterboarding is typically employed – that I graduated from their institution. At issue? What they felt was an inappropriate level of focus on beer and other fermentation products as a subject of personal discovery disguised as undergraduate research.


    They are the new Brew Barons. In an earlier age, they might have been content to make White Lightning, or craft brews.


    An interesting approach. Algenol are utilizing algae to make starches, which they then ferment into ethanol.

    Re-definition Of Bio-fuels

  44. Even if a full meltdown is averted, Japanese officials have been facing unpalatable options. One was to continue flooding the reactors and venting the resulting steam, while hoping that the prevailing winds, which have headed across the Pacific, did not turn south toward Tokyo or west, across northern Japan to the Korean Peninsula.


    While Japanese officials made no comparisons to past accidents, the release of an unknown quantity of radioactive gases and particles — all signs that the reactor cores were damaged from at least partial melting of fuel — added considerable tension to the effort to cool the reactors.

    “It’s way past Three Mile Island already,” said Frank von Hippel, a physicist and professor at Princeton. “The biggest risk now is that the core really melts down and you have a steam explosion.”

    Leaving Plant