Sunday Reads: Mad about the Boy and Sunflowers…Radioactive Sunflowers

Good Morning.

Last night I saw one of the best movies ever made, Sunset Blvd…and I have to say, like Norma Desmond…I am mad about the boy. The “boy” being William Holden.

Funny what you remember isn’t it

There was a song that was popular when I was in high school, I never liked it much but it was recorded live in Tom’s Diner…the same diner that was used for the street shots of Monk’s coffee shop on Seinfeld. This song’s lyrics mention the death of William Holden…

I open
Up the paper
There’s a story
Of an actor

Who had died
While he was drinking
It was no one
I had heard of

Oh, you can be sure I knew who Suzanne Vega was talking about…Damn, he was one hell of a leading man!

Anyway, on with the news reads for this morning.

Lee is on his way up to Banjoland, but now the rain is falling in New Orleans.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT13/refresh/AL1311W5_NL_sm2+gif/204714W5_NL_sm.gif

This is one slow-moving storm…New Orleans feeling lucky, wary as storm nears land | Reuters

Southern Louisiana was coping fairly well with heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee on Saturday but New Orleans officials warned residents against rising winds and complacency amid the storm’s slow onslaught.

“This storm is moving painfully slow,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a briefing on Saturday afternoon. “Don’t go to sleep on this storm,” he added. “The message today is that we are not out of the woods.”

Hope all is well Dak!

I have some interesting links for you today, we will start over in Japan. Remember that Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

Nuclear legacy: photos tell tale of 2 ghost towns  | ajc.com

Twenty-five years after a reactor at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and melted down, its surroundings are well-explored territory, including the abandoned workers’ town of Pripyat, two kilometers (about a mile) from the plant. The guides who take visitors through the area know exactly where to go and, more important, what to avoid.

[…]

The people who fled Futaba, the town nearest to the Fukushima plant, need only look to Pripyat, some 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away, for a hint of what it will probably turn into: a ghost town forever looking as though it expects its 7,000-plus people to return any minute.

In Futaba, unlike in Pripyat, you are in uncharted territory. There are no guides. The radioactive hot spots are uncharted, and behind every corner, danger may lurk that will not turn malignant for years, even decades. Radiation cannot be sensed like a hum or a smell. The sun shines and the wind blows, and only the beeping of your Geiger counter tells you something is wrong.

There are two images that I want to point out:

In this Thursday, April 21, 2011 photo, a dog walks across a street in the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

In this Sunday, April 2, 2006 photo, a dog walks in the deserted town of Pripyat, Ukraine, some 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Well, those pictures say a hell of a lot…and so does this one:  Japan is open for business – The Washington Post

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – Sunflowers are seen in the tsunami hit field in in Natori, in Miyagi prefecture, and were planted by local elementary school children on July 15, 2011. Japan has a campaign to grow sunflowers to help decontaminate radioactive soil.

Yes, Japan is planting sunflowers to help remove the cesium.  Sunflowers rise to battle Japan’s nuclear winter – Technology & science – Science – msnbc.com

About 80,000 people were forced to evacuate from a vast swath of land around the reactor as engineers battled radiation leaks, hydrogen explosions and overheating fuel rods. They have no idea when, if ever, they can return to homes that have been in their families for generations.

Worse still, radiation spread well outside the mandatory evacuation zone, nestling in “hot spots” and contaminating the ground in what remains a largely agricultural region.

Rice, still a significant staple, has not been planted in many areas. Others face stringent tests and potentially harmful shipping bans after radioactive caesium was found in rice straw.

Excessive radiation levels have also been found in beef, vegetables, milk, seafood and water. In hot spots more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the plant, the tea is radioactive.

Sunflower campaign
In an effort to lift the spirits of area residents as well as lighten the impact of the radiation, Abe began growing and distributing sunflowers and other plants.

“We plant sunflowers, field mustard, amaranthus and cockscomb, which are all believed to absorb radiation,” said the monk. “So far we have grown at least 200,000 flowers (at this temple) and distributed many more seeds. At least 8 million sunflowers blooming in Fukushima originated from here.”

Sunflowers were also used to clean up contaminated soil near Chernobyl.  Imagine, once the flowers grow they must be disposed of properly.  Yes, the big yellow flowers are radioactive… atomic… a sea of golden toxic waste!  Japanese Scientists Get Creative With Nuclear Contamination Clean-Up

Sunflowers near Chernobyl

After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, sunflowers and rape blossoms were used to decontaminate soil in Ukraine.

The researchers believe growing sunflowers will remove the radioactive caesium in the ground. Radioactive caesium is similar to kalium, a commonly used fertilizer. If kalium is not present, sunflowers will absorb caesium instead.

Yamashita’s team plans to remove the harvested sunflowers through burning, so that the radioactive caesium could be dispersed in smoke instead of requiring storage.

Alternatively, the researchers are also considering using hyperthermophilic aerobic bacteria to decompose the plants. The decomposing process will reduce the sunflowers to about 1 percent of their previous volume, which will slash the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be disposed.

As for the radiation that is seaborne, and not in the soil…Modelling the dispersion of Fukushima-Daichii nuclear power plant release (H/T Susie Madrak)

Take a look at that link, there are moving computer images of the dispersion of the radioactive plume as it traveled the Pacific currents away from Japan.

So, lets move from toxic radioactive particles to toxic radioactive candidates…GOP candidates that is.

Republican Candidates Turn Attacks on One Another – NYTimes.com

The Republican field is entering a pivotal stage in the nominating contest as candidates increasingly move beyond criticizing President Obama and start to run against one another.

The outcome of three debates in the next three weeks — starting Wednesday night, the first time Mr. Perry, Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachmann will face one another — will influence fund-raising, shape strategy and set perceptions as the candidates hurtle toward the start of voting early next year.

In both parties, there is now a sense that the president’s political frailty, underscored by the report on Friday that showed zero net job creation in August and new projections that unemployment will remain elevated through Election Day next year, is even greater than it appeared at the start of the summer, injecting additional energy and urgency into the Republican primary race.

While many Democrats once hoped that perceived deficiencies among the Republican contenders could provide a lifeline to Mr. Obama, the prospect of losing the presidency is no longer summarily dismissed by his advisers.

In other words, they are going to “eat” their own kind in the next few weeks…should be some great fodder for the late night political comedians.

Early this week, this article was published on Colorlines.  The Definitive Guide to Bigotry in the 2012 Republican Primaries (So Far) – COLORLINES

There is a reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital. Stretched out between the memories of two presidents, the water reminds us that politics are merely a reflection of American society, for better or worse. The best of our society was on display 48 years ago when hundreds of thousands of Americans stood in scenic unity along the reflecting pool in support of civil rights. Today, the 2012 presidential elections reflect a nation still plagued by bias and inequality. Troubled and ugly waters indeed.

The following is a guide to use when you consider casting a vote for one of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. You may be among the Americans who have lost faith in Obama or the Democratic Party and pondering a step to the right. Faulty as the Democrats may be, read this guide and remember that liberals still believe abolishing slavery was a good idea and that women should not be confined to the kitchen—which is not something you can say about all of the Republican contenders.

Check out this link, and read the entire article, because it breaks down the candidates and some of the questionable remarks that these 2012 GOP hopefuls have made. (Some will not come as a surprise to you, but Colorlines really does a great job of writing it down.)

From the bigoted remarks and beliefs to the religious fervor that most of the GOP 2012s are pimping left and right. This next article is from Time and discusses the Articles of Faith: What Journalists Should Be Asking Politicians About Religion | Swampland

A few weeks ago, I opened up my Twitter feed early in the morning and immediately wondered if I was being punk’d. Instead of the usual horse race speculation, my colleagues in the political press corps were discussing the writings of evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer and debating the definition of Dominionism. The same week, a conservative journalist had posed a question about submission theology in a GOP debate, and David Gregory had grilled Michele Bachmann about whether God would guide her decision-making if she became President.

The combination of religion and politics is a combustible one. And while I’m thrilled to see journalists taking on these topics, it seemed to me a few guidelines might be helpful in covering religion on the campaign trail:

Ask relevant questions.

It’s tempting to get into whether a Catholic candidate takes communion or if an evangelical politician actually thinks she speaks to God. But if a candidate brings up his faith on the campaign trail, there are two main questions journalists need to ask: 1) Would your religious beliefs have any bearing on the actions you would take in office? and 2) If so, how?

This is also a rather long article, and discusses the kinds of “faith” related questions the media needs to focus on.  From policy to Jeremiah Wright…so please read the entire article if you can.

From the Minx Missing Link File:  There was a plane crash this past week just off the coast in Chile…some of you may have missed this news. The plane crashed when extremely bad weather hit the area. Chile says no survivors from Pacific Ocean air crash | Reuters

“One arrives at the conclusion that the impact was so strong that it must have killed those aboard instantly,” Defense Minister Andres Allamand said.

The CASA 212 military plane tried twice to land on Friday before it went missing as heavy winds and sporadic rains hit the area.

Among the passengers were five TVN national television staff members, including well-known presenter Felipe Camiroaga, who were planning to film a report about reconstruction on the islands after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The islands were badly hit by the tsunami.

21 people were aboard that plane, all are presumed dead.

Friday there was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that hit in Argentina and a 6.8 earthquake the struck off the Fox Islands, in the Aleutian chain of islands in Alaska. Mother nature has been on the rampage lately.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  This is one cool looking Woolly Rhino, isn’t it? BBC News – ‘Oldest’ woolly rhino discovered

Woolly rhino impression (Julie Naylor) The discovery team says it might have used its horn as a paddle to sweep snow from vegetation

As a fiber nut, the first thing I thought about when I saw that picture was…ooo, I bet that spins up like yak or maybe Icelandic fleece, one of the primitive sheep whose fleece has a dual coat. One layer is guard hair, straight and more “hairy” like, it makes a very strong and stable yarn…great for use as warps in weaving and the lower woolly fleece, that is soft and wavy, with lots of loft and crimp, that makes a great flexible yarn because it has more “give” for knitting and use as weft in weaving.

A woolly rhino fossil dug up on the Tibetan Plateau is believed to be the oldest specimen of its kind yet found.

The creature lived some 3.6 million years ago – long before similar beasts roamed northern Asia and Europe in the ice ages that gripped those regions.

The discovery team says the existence of this ancient rhino supports the idea that the frosty Tibetan foothills of the Himalayas were the evolutionary cradle for these later animals.

The report appears in Science journal.

“It is the oldest specimen discovered so far,” said Xiaoming Wang from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, US.

“It is at least a million years older, or more, than any other woolly rhinos we have known.
“It’s quite well preserved – just a little crushed, so not quite in the original shape; but the complete skull and lower jaw are preserved,” he told BBC News.

Well, that is all for me this morning. Enjoy your first Sunday in September, and I will catch you all later in the comments.


17 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Mad about the Boy and Sunflowers…Radioactive Sunflowers”

  1. The Rock says:

    Great roundup Minx! We were hoping that some of that rain that Dak is getting would catchus herein Houston, but alas, we only got a few sprinkles :(. I’ll go through it a bit closer after I leave work :).

    Be safe Dak, and everybody else in the Gulf Coast….

    Hillary 2012

  2. joanelle says:

    Thanks for some really good stuff, Minx.

    We’re all praying that Katia veers out to sea before hitting the east coast. Many folks here in Northern NJ and NY still have water in their homes from ‘Irene’ – roads are just being opened after the flooding and there are still about 100,000 folks without electricity in the Metro NY area.

    Hang on Kat – we’re hoping Lee fades quickly.

    • dakinikat says:

      Lee’s still here and drenching the Mississippi Gulf coast. I’m afraid he’s headed your direction later this week. Hope that doesn’t happen. He’s a tornado producer too.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Kat, how it the rain situation. I have been gone all day long, but before we left, it looked like one of the levees was breached down in New Orleans. Also, the waves on Pontchartrain have breached the seawall. All those white flight richies are now flooding in Mandeville.

        • dakinikat says:

          Some of the levees in Plaquesmines were topped and SE Jefferson has had problems with the surge, but I think New Orleans is okay. I’m sort’ve sheltered though situated on one of the highest ridges in the city. Most of New Orleans appears to be okay to me from what I can tell, but I’ve been on the Weather Channel all day and haven’t seen the local news.

  3. mjames says:

    I was watching Sunset Boulevard with you. I always adored Holden (who looks just like my father and was a drunk just like him too, but, then again, I also loved my seriously flawed and violent papa – food for the psychologists, I guess, is BB up yet?). Gloria is a wee bit over the top for me, but, underneath all the makeup, a good-looking gal with a great bod. Billy had to go, though; weakness and whoredom are no-nos on the big screen. His “redemption” by rejecting the other gal and sending her back to his best bud was not sufficient to save his life.

    Next up last night was Hannah and Her Three Sisters. While the movie was certainly superbly done, I cannot comprehend how one sister could sleep with another sister’s husband. Seriously. That is some sick shit. And how come she didn’t have to die at the end for her weakness? I guess if Woody followed the Hollywood script rules, he would have had to kill himself off in real life for sleeping with – and marrying – his longtime girlfriend’s teenage daughter. So really, the true point of the movie seems to be annihilating Mia for being too perfect and not needy. Therefore, Woody seems to be saying, he was justified, like Michael Caine, in betraying her so fundamentally; Mia is the real villain.

    On to the U.S. Open.

  4. foxyladi14 says:

    praying for your safety everyone in the path of these storms 🙂

  5. dakinikat says:

    I love the Sunflower stories Minx! It’s amazing how mother nature has ways of cleaning up our messes. She has a different time line than we do, however.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yes, she sure does, the thing that get’s me is that those sunflowers are atomic…and radioactive. Makes me think of a new twist on those Godzilla movies.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    It might be sacrilege to bring this up, but I think the I Love Lucy episode with William Holden is hilarious. Holden did a great double-take along with Ricky, when Lucy lit her fake nose on fire.