WAMU 88.5 : News

Consider This, With Fred Fiske

Play associated audio

When the tsunami hit Japan last month, I was aboard the MS Rotterdam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heading for the port of Honolulu. The ship's captain came on the loud speaker to announce that we would reverse course and head back into the ocean where the ship could more so ride out the affect of the tsunami.

Well fortunately, the affect of the giant wave was minimal for us. The next morning we headed back to Honolulu where getting a hotel room was next to impossible because the thousands of Japanese tourists who were visiting could not go home. Well those Japanese were fortunate. The quake and the tsunami left more than 27,000 people dead or missing.

Thousands lost their homes and families to say nothing of their livelihoods. Those who survive the impact of the 9.0 earthquake and the giant tsunami now face the most uncertain future any people ever have. As the world holds its breaths to see how the radiation danger resulting from the damage to the nuclear reactors plays out.

The risks are hard to measure, depending on distance from the reactors, topography, and wind patterns. What we do know is that the dangers are incremental and various. Exposure resulting from radiation in water to agricultural products, even in sea water is hard to measure. We know it can last for years. George Johnson in the Washington Post says it kills incrementally, slowly, diffusely, and invisibly.

Princeton professor Robert Socolow describes it as the fire that you can't put out. It's estimated that a quarter of the homes and businesses destroyed will not be rebuilt. The future of Japan is in question. It's one of the most richest and successful nations on earth. Since it imports 99 percent of its oil, it made the decision to embrace nuclear energy for its energy needs. Obviously, the country is now faced with the more pressing problems resulting from the disaster which struck it. Eventually, however, they will have to face the crippling effects on their economy.

Whether they'll be able to regain their economic position in the world is problematic. In the meantime, I look with pride on the way the American people are reacting. It's been 70 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our war with Pearl Harbor and our war with Japan. During most of those decades, our resentment and our antipathy toward the Japanese has been strong. I'm pleased that in the face of enormous catastrophe, which has befallen them we have reacted with concern and a huge output of aide.

NPR

Is It All Greek To You? Thank Medieval Monks, And The Bard, For The Phrase

Ben Zimmer, language columnist at The Wall Street Journal, explains the origin of the phrase "it's all Greek to me" — and shares a few variants from other languages.
NPR

Do Try This At Home: 3 Korean Banchan (Side Dishes) In One Pot

If you've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you're used to the endless side dishes that come out with the meal. They're called banchan, and they're remarkably simple to make for yourself.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes in The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

Reddit CEO Says Miscommunication Led To Blackout Protest

A user revolt briefly shut down the social site last week after a key employee was dismissed. Interim CEO Ellen Pao says the company has "apologized for not communicating better" with site moderators.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.