Sunday, October 23, 2016

Revenge of the Hackers

This semester I am teaching a graduate class on Social Media and Politics. In this class we have learned about the power of individuals and/or small groups to deploy influence through their control over the Internet using persuasive memes and through active hacks.

Mainstream political authorities would be well advised to keep this influence in mind as they go after Julian Assange:
AP Internet attackers now have secret weapon in household devices. Japan Times, October 23, 2016,

NEW YORK – Could millions of connected cameras, thermostats and kids’ toys bring the internet to its knees? It’s beginning to look that way. On Friday, epic cyberattacks crippled a major internet firm, repeatedly disrupting the availability of popular websites across the United States. The hacker group claiming responsibility says that the day’s antics were just a dry run and that it has its sights set on a much bigger target. And the attackers now have a secret weapon in the increasing array of internet-enabled household devices they can subvert and use to wreak havoc...
Mainstream political authorities' control in the age of connectivity is diminishing.

I can only hope that a more democratic balance of power births a more rational democracy as opposed to either anarchy or totalitarianism.

Risking Japan's Future

In the last 5 years there has been a tremendous amount of significant earthquake activity in Japan. The great Honshu quake of 2011 was followed last year by unprecedented earthquake activity in Kyushu, where Japan's only operating reactors are located. Over 1,000 earthquakes shook Kyushu last spring.

Most recently, earthquakes rocked Tottori Prefecture, forcing large scale evacuations:
October 22, 2016. Tottori quake forces 2,800 to evacuate, causes 145 aftershocks. The Asahi Shimbun

TOTTORI--More than 2,800 residents who evacuated after a magnitude-6.6 quake hit Tottori Prefecture spent a restless night in shelters as aftershocks continued to rattle the area in western Japan.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said 145 quakes with intensities of at least 1 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 were recorded by noon Oct. 22. Agency officials also cautioned residents about the possibility of a lower 6 quake--the same level as the one that stuck at 2:07 p.m. on Oct. 21--hitting the area over the next week or so.

Tottori prefectural government officials said one resident suffered serious injuries and 14 others had minor injuries as of 7 a.m.
Here is the location of the latest quake:

According to the Japan Times, the country has more than 2,000 active faults:
Protecting people against quakes. Japan Times, Oct 23, 2016 

The news agency Xinhua reports that the increased earthquake activity in Japan is indicative of activity along the Japan Median Tectonic Line:
Magnitude 6.5 quake strikes off coast of Japan's Kanto region, slight sea level changes possible. Xinhua September 23, 2106,

The rise in quakes recently both in and in offshore regions of the landlocked Kanto area on the main island of Honshu, including Ibaraki Prefecture that borders the Pacific Ocean northeast of Tokyo and neighboring Saitama Prefecture, can be attributed to increased activity of late along the Japan Median Tectonic Line, the weather agency has said.
Wikipedia provides a diagram of the Japan Median Tectonic Line:

Operating nuclear plants in the context of heightened earthquake and volcanic activity is a big GAMBLE with the future of Japan at risk.

And let the same be said for any region of the world - including California - where nuclear power plants are located in geologically active zones.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Modular Reactors: A Bad Idea

The Guardian is pushing modular nuclear reactors by promoting the misinformation that nuclear power plants emit no emissions:
Debbie Carlson. 16 October 2016. This new technology could save the troubled nuclear power industry. The Guardian,

... Nuclear power plants emit no emissions, but existing designs have become too costly to be a popular solution for climate change. The new technology has gotten significant funding from investors such as Bill Gates…
The entire uranium fuel cycle is VERY carbon intensive (i.e., polluting) and produces vast amounts of waste that we cannot manage. Additionally, nuclear power plants produce vast amounts of heat and contaminate the atmosphere with tritium and Krypton-85. In fact, the EPA is planning on regulating Krypton-85 emissions from NPPs:
Silverstein, Ken (2014, June 13) EPA Hits Nuclear Power With Kryptonite. Forbes,

See nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen's video here describing why nuclear is NO SOLUTION for global climate change:

The Guardian article's author is misinformed. However, the author of the article, Carlson, does offer an alternative view point to the otherwise approving discussion of modular nukes:
Mike Pasqualetti, senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, isn’t convinced the world needs this technology.
These new plants may be cheaper to build in theory than conventional nuclear projects, but it delays the transition to a more sustainable future in which 100% of the US’ electricity needs come from renewable sources and energy storage, he said.
“Small scale nuclear has advantages to it, but there’s still waste. Are they safer? Probably. Are they cheaper to build? Probably. Do we have any experience doing it? Not really,” Pasqualetti said.
As Dr. Pasqualetti points out, small scale nuclear reactors simply delay transition to a more sustainable future and are an inherently risky endeavor.

Fukushima Daiichi October 20, 2016

Fukushima Daiichi 5:13

Sunrise over Daiichi Futaba Cam

Several hours later pink glow persists over plant: