Monday, March 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

Was reading the latest IAEA report on the status of Fukushima.  Its amazing how calmly some of these official statements present things.  For instance, there are these little mentions of "INES Level 5".  What this means is a nuclear accident of roughly the same level as Three Mile Island.  Japaneese authorities have declared this for three reactors, plus a fourth reactor that they have at the level of a 'serious accident', ie INES 3.   Three Three Mile Islands concealed under notes about "INES Level 5".

But, what really caught my eye was the name of the Japaneese ministry that's in charge of all of this.  Its listed in this article as "Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)".

Did something get lost in translation? Or is the government ministry in charge of Sports and Culture really in charge of nuclear power as well in Japan?

I love Douglass Adams' writing.  He wrote Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I'd highly recommend to anyone.  In one part, he talks about a doomed planet.  They make three giant spaceships to evacuate the planet. One has all the government and military leaders and their staffs and organizations assigned to it. The other is for the engineers and the scientists and the computer programmers and the managers who make things work.  The last is for the 'telephone cleaners' and interior decorators and the people who give poodles funny little hair cuts.

Since the last group was the least important to the day to day functioning of their world in the final days before worldwide catastrophe, the telephone cleaners and the people who give poodles funny little hair cuts took off first.

When they were gone, the engineers and scientists and leaders all discovered that with them gone, suddenly the world wasn't doomed any more.

It sounds like in Japan, they've done the opposite. They put the ministry in charge of Sports, Culture, and  Cute Little Haircuts for Poodles, in charge of the nation's nuclear power plants.

Or maybe something just got lost in translation.
Written by an engineer who's been trying desperately all his life to get over to the spaceship with the 'telephone cleaners' and artists and the people who give poodles funny little hair cuts, because that's where all my cool hippy friends are going to be.  And if I'm going to be locked into a spaceship, I'd much rather be with the people who give poodles funny looking hair cuts than stuck in a tin-can with either a bunch of brainiac programmers or a lot of wanna-be General Pattons.  I'll guarantee you that the lady who gives poodles funny little hair cuts throws much better parties.  :)

But, I that still doesn't mean I want her running the local nuclear reactor.  Then again, she'd probably have enough sense not to build the damn thing in the first place.

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