First of all, I realize it does no good to say this - and I mention it at the risk of sounding like one of those douchebags who tries to make every news story, no matter how universal, all about themselves - but over the last few weeks, ever since they've been treated to an Apocalyptic trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and slow-motion nuclear meltdown, my heart has been breaking for Japan.
The Japanese people have suffered, and are still suffering, catastrophe on a previously unimaginable scale. When the counting is done, Japan will have lost ten times the number of kinsmen that Americans lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, and with less than a third the population. As for the devastated infrastructure and farmland, no accounting method yet conceived is capable of tallying loss of this magnitude.
You've probably already seen the terrifying videos of the tsunami, but perhaps it's worth taking another look at some of the most incredible amateur footage, if only to remind ourselves that it really happened. First, this video of an angry ocean literally scouring most of a city off the face of the Earth...
Next, this footage - filmed by someone with balls of steel - which is similar to the video above, and yet somehow more terrifying because it so starkly captures the relentlessness of the destructive forces at play...
Finally, this unbelievable footage of acre after acre of farmland being swallowed up by a boiling, wine-dark sea...
The words simply do not exist to convey the absolute, Satanic chaos taking place in the videos above. They must be seen to be believed, and even then credulity is stretched to the breaking point. These are money shots from a dozen imaginary Michael Bey movies that somehow crept their way into our reality... an unending montage of Boschian tableaux to choke the greedy gaze of even the most unrepentant, spectacle-crazed disaster glutton. Gazing into the Nietzschean abyss never felt so voyeuristic.
And to think... so many of my smartest friends think I've lost the plot when I tell them we're living in the Age of Apocalypse.
But more about that, later.
For now, let's take a deep breath, hike up our trousers, blink our eyes, maybe scratch our balls - do whatever it takes to snap the fuck out of it, already, and take a look at some cold, hard facts about the Japocalypse. Because, hey, "the Devil you know" and all that crap. Okay? Are you ready? Let's start.
First things first, unless you're living in the northern half of Japan, for the love of Godzilla, please do us all a favor and STOP PANICKING about RADIATION! Yes, the numbers being bandied about by the mainstream media have been downright terrifying. Big scary numbers thrown around without any attempt at context tends to have that effect on people. But let's be honest... before the Japocalypse, most of us didn't know the difference between a rad and a millisievert, and that probably still holds true.
Thankfully, the fine folks at XKCD.com - a collective of physicists who spend their leisure time drawing hilarious stick figure comics for the Asperger set - have put together a most excellent and educational Radiation Dose Chart. It really puts things in perspective. Clip, print and save this puppy, because it will be indispensable in helping you know when it's really time to panic.
Here is another excellent chart, with even more detailed information about the possible health ramifications of exposure to higher-than-normal doses of radiation. Also, if you're curious about what, exactly, is taking place inside Fukushima's FUBAR reactors, this really good info graphic goes a long way towards de-mystifying that situation.
Hey now! How 'bout that Naoto Kan? For a while there, it was looking like he might turn out to be the Japanese Rudy Giuliani. Now he's looking more like one of those British "Action Man" dolls, changing costumes more often than Tyler Perry. For one press conference, the Prime Minster is adorned in the trademark coveralls of the suicidally selfless nuclear power plant workers who are trying to prevent a full-blown meltdown - the Kamikaze-like Fukushima 50. For another, he and his Cabinet dressed up as rescue workers... utility belts and all. Earlier this week, when news broke that Japan had flushed huge amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, I half expected Kan to address the nation in full SCUBA gear, flippers and all.
Well, that's probably enough about the Japocalypse for now. I felt like I needed to get SOMETHING about it into the Dirt before the whole thing recedes into the dimly flickering fog of our collective amnesiac memory-hole. Otherwise, when our Alien Robot Overlords invade the Earth and wipe out all our memories along with all forms of electronic and hard-copy historical media - with the singular exception of the Daily Dirt Diaspora Blog - there might be an inexcusable gap in the planet's historic record!
You never know. It could happen.