"I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I've just finished my milk." - Moss, The IT Crowd

Monday, March 14, 2011

Resources about the crisis in Japan

If you have friends or family in Japan, Google has a crisis center with a person finder, shelter resident lists, and more. You can donate to the Japanese Red Cross through Google's page, or to the American Red Cross at RedCross.org.

Here are some useful links for keeping up with the news out of Japan:
For more background on nuclear reactors:
New content on this blog may be spotty for the next few days, but I'll try to at least check in and post a few links every day.

ETA: Things are taking a turn for the worse.

ETA 3/14/11 11pm CDT: A decent USA Today update.  Kyodo News Headlines says that small amounts of radioactive substances have been detected in Tokyo, but doesn't have an accompanying article at this time.

ETA 3/15/11 8:30 am CDT: This is bad. Scroll down to the paragraph with the IAEA update. According to AFP, the disaster has now been upgraded to a 6 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

A summary of more-or-less current statistics about the disaster by the Telegraph.

ETA 3/15/11 9:45 am CDT: Good update from the NY Times. One piece of encouraging news: the most recent radiation levels reported from outside the plant have fallen off from their highest levels.

ETA 3/16/11 10:35 pm CDT: A bleak update from the NY Times.

    Thought for the Day

    "The tapestry of circumstance is intricate and dense."
    - Wislawa Szymborska

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    This is what democracy looks like

    Let me start by saying that I'm not a big fan of unions as they often exist in practice. Too often unions are focused on extracting dues from members and ensuring jobs for every worker who pays up for membership, regardless of the worker's actual competence and effort on the job. As someone who has worked in a government office in the past, I think that a culture in which poor performers have job security sows the seeds of waste and dysfunction, and frequently chases off the best employees, who see better-compensated job opportunities elsewhere that actually reward merit. (Of course, we manage to have this problem in Texas without collective bargaining for public employees.) And unions often end up supporting a non-merit-based culture to curry support from the bottom 50% of performers, rather than focusing on promoting fair treatment, fair wages, humane leave policies, and good healthcare.

    That said, I also believe that the existence of unions is responsible for many of the benefits enjoyed by most full-time employees in the United States: the weekend, paid time off, a 40-hour standard work week, healthcare benefits, a minimum wage, and family and medical leave. (Not including overtime here, because so-called "exempt" employees - basically, most people on a salary - don't receive it.)

    Thought for the Day

    "It's all arranged. And all for your own good. We'll be able, with the money you earn, to make Narnia a country worth living in. There'll be oranges and bananas pouring in -- and roads and big cities and schools and offices and whips and muzzles and saddles and cages and kennels and prisons -- Oh, everything. ... Now don't you start arguing, for it's a thing I won't stand. I'm a Man: you're only a fat, stupid old Bear. What do you know about freedom? You think freedom means doing what you like. Well, you're wrong. That isn't true freedom. True freedom means doing what I tell you."

    - Shift the Ape, The Last Battle

    P.J. Crowley forced out at State Department

    @PJCrowley has "abruptly resigned" from the State Department. That is, he was forced out due to commenting honestly about the treatment of Bradley Manning in detention at Quantico.

    This is a sad day for the United States. P.J. Crowley is clearly someone who cares about what is right more than he cares about advancing his own career. We need more of these people in the highest levels of government, not fewer.