Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake, tsunami and human adaptations

Here's comes Yukio Edano, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary (what's that?), again with his deadpan delivery of the latest announcements about whether those earthquake- and tsunami-damaged nuclear power reactors are on the way to turning themselves into dirty bombs. I've been watching the CNN feed of English language news on NHK World off and on since Friday.

And behind him, there's the Japanese Sign Language (JSL) interpreter. Is this participant in the press conference the norm on Japanese TV? I don't know. I like the idea that if Mr. Edano ever admits that it is time to hit the panic button, at least deaf people will have a chance to run as much as the hearing.

According to the linked article on JSL, the widespread use of the language has led to

a subtle cultural change in views about the Deaf in Japan evolved. The long-standing concept that "deaf" only means "people who can't hear" emphasized a physical impairment as part of a biomedical disease model; however, this was gradually replaced by a slightly different paradigm. "Deaf people" were more often identified as "people who use Japanese sign language."


I have no idea where to find believable information about the Japanese nuclear plants. Probably at this point, nobody knows all we'd like to know and some of the people who know a lot have incentives for not telling. One source that may be trustworthy is the Union of Concerned Scientists' "All Things Nuclear."

It's never hard for a San Franciscan to imagine the horror a quake might leave behind. Clearly rescuers will keep finding bodies for days. I ache too for the living survivors. They may have lost family and friends; they will certainly have to endure hardships before any semblance of normal life returns.

We count on terra firma under us. The knowledge that land and sea can rise up, seemingly against us, must leave inner marks.

1 comment:

Judy H. said...

Hey, Jan. Thank you for this post, as always! The deaf interpreter on TV _is_ fairly typical, I think. Same for Korea -- I've even seen them on megachurch sermons.

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