Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace

Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace
HONG KONG — Even before Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) won the election, I had planned to visit Hiroshima during my Japan tour. Now that he’s president, visiting this city is especially poignant. During the campaign, both Trump and his rival for the nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke casually of using nuclear weapons on ISIS and our other enemies, as if dropping them would solve all our problems. [See notes below for details.] Their comments made me cringe, as neither man seems to comprehend the horrors of nuclear weapons. If they did, they would never suggest using them in such an off-the-cuff manner. I wanted to visit Hiroshima to see how the city has rebounded from its utter destruction in 1945. Now, you would hardly know the city was once a pile of rubble. Ground zero is now occupied by a peace park, which is surrounded by high rise buildings. Hiroshima is a vibrant testimony to the strength of the human spirit. Rather than be depressed by my brief visit, I was uplifted. Hiroshima has moved on, choosing to stand for peace and reconciliation, not hate and retribution, despite the horrors the A-bomb brought on.. Everyone should read John Hersey’s Hiroshima. ...

Winter holiday is here, and I’m in Japan! 4

Winter holiday is here, and I'm in Japan!
TOKYO, JAPAN — This year’s winter escapade is not to a warm, sunny location like Malaysia, but to the more wintry Japan — a joint effort by my son and me. He had some comp time available, and wanted to visit me in Jishou, but as I had planned to travel outside China during the Spring Festival, we settled on two weeks in Japan. Fun fact: this year, the Chinese New Year falls on my birthday. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which day that is. I gave my exams on Dec. 30, and spent the rest of the week reading them and calculating grades for my 150 students. I discovered two disturbing things: at least two of my sophomores had cheated on their exam and hardly any of the sophs had improved their listening comprehension marks over the last three terms. The cheaters flunked their exams, and the term. They will need to take a new test next term. I also get to read their classmates the riot act, as I suspect those two were just the unlucky ones who got caught. The sophomores’ failure to improve their skills much since they were freshmen is a bigger ...

China and Japan dispute who owns group of strategically placed islands

China and Japan dispute who owns group of strategically placed islands
JISHOU, HUNAN — While the local and Chinese governments draw international attention to our little part of this rock we call Earth, a more serious issue is brewing in the waters to the east, and in the streets all over China. China is once again in a territorial dispute with one of its neighbors, Japan. And this time it’s not about fish.* The dispute has to do with a group of small islands between Okinawa and Taiwan that the Japanese call Senkaku, the Chinese call DiaoYu and the Taiwanese call TiaoYu. As real estate they aren’t much to speak of, but they just so happen to be near suspected undersea oil and gas fields. Japan says the islands have been part of its territory since 1895, while China and Taiwan (who agree on this!) assert the islands were Chinese territory more than 300 years before Japan annexed them in the first Sino-Japanese War. While the three national governments exchange strongly worded communiqués, nationalistic Chinese and Japanese citizens have been taking to the streets and to the Internet to lodge their own protests. Just this week, I got an email from the US Embassy in Beijing advising Americans to avoid street ...

Something more informative than those cheesy USA Today graphics 1

Randall Munroe (Mr. xkcd) has posted a useful, informative chart about radiation exposures. Considering all the worldwide kerfluffle about radiation hazards from Japan, which will be almost nil for people thousands of miles away, reviewing the chart may make this complex subject more understandable.

Salt — the new gold! 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Salt has just become the most sought after commodity in China since Japan’s looming nuclear emergency started a week ago. Prompted by word of mouth medical advice, Chinese — especially those in the eastern provinces close to Japan — have nearly cleared the supermarket shelves of salt. What salt is available is being sold at exorbitant prices, following the time-honored advice of W.C. Fields, “Never give a sucker an even break.” [Apparently, the word on the street is that iodized salt — if they are even bothering to check for the iodized part — is a suitable replacement for potassium iodide (KI) pills. KI doses are a preventive measure against radioactive iodine, a component of nuclear fallout, concentrating in one’s thyroid glands. Someone consuming enough salt to effectively replace KI pills would probably keel over from high blood pressure, or at least from excessive thirst.] Meanwhile, a fake email alert purporting to be from the BBC has circulated all around Asia, advising people to stay inside, avoid getting rained on, and to put betadine on the skin near their thyroid glands. BBC Flash news : Japan Government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should ...
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