The Character of the Japanese

The following link is a great overall news article about the Earthquake in Japan and all the following catastrophes.  The words that are missing from all the articles that I have read over the last several days are “Looting”, “Panic” and “Violence”.

Anxiety in Japan grows as rescue workers find more bodies –

Here is a partial definition of the word “Looting” from

Looting (Hindi lūṭ, akin to Sanskrit luṭhati, [he] steals; also Latin latrolatronis [Sp. ladrón], “thief”)—also referred to as sackingplunderingdespoilingdespoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe or riot…

“During a catastrophe” would certainly indicate that this is a common or even expected occurrence.  Let’s ponder some recent natural disasters across the globe:

Christchurch, New Zealand  – 02.22.2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake

Looters, scammers and con men target Christchurch earthquake victims

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti – 01.12.2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake

Haiti earthquake: looting and gun-fights break out –

New Orléans, Louisiana, United States – 08.29.2005, Category 3 Hurricane ‘Katrina’

Looters take advantage of New Orléans mess –

The list of disasters and accompanying news articles is endless.  Except in Japan.  I am amazed at the strength, calm and organization of the people in Japan.  This includes not only the Japanese, but all the foreigners living in and visiting Japan.  It has not really been a surprise to anyone that there has not been a rise in crime, a state of panic or finger-pointing.

As we have all heard, Japan is a country that is regularly hit with strong earthquakes.  The people grow up learning what to do, where to go, how to prepare and especially how to stay calm.  If you have watched any of the videos, you can see that as soon as the earthquake starts, almost everyone crouches down to avoid falling. Missing from the videos is screaming and panic.  If locals residents do not panic, it sets a great example for those not accustomed to constant shaking.  People in airports remained calm and followed the lead of others.

In Tokyo, all train service stopped.  Thousands of people were stranded in the city.  One report said that all the bicycle shops had sold out of all bicycles.  Sold Out, not been mobbed and had them all stolen.  People with cars were offering rides to strangers.  Residents of Tokyo opened their homes to coworkers, friends and strangers.  The government and companies passed out supplies to people stranded.  Cars stuck in long lines of traffic that moved at only a few feet an hour at times, were not honking and yelling.  There are many photos from the hard hit area of Sendai showing people politely queuing up to enter the grocery stores, in turn, to get supplies. Finally, if the earthquake and tsunamis were not enough damage, they are now experiencing meltdowns at the nuclear power plants.  Still no panic.

I think we , as a global community, have a lot to learn from this disaster.  We need to learn to BE a community.


Personal Interaction is Dying

Hello, may I speak with <your name>?

<Hmm, sounds like a telemarketing call> Speaking.

Hello, I am the HR manager for XYZ and after reviewing your résumé I would like to set up a time for a phone interview.

<I thought XYZ was around the corner from me> That would great.

When would be a good time?

In the computer/technology/smart phone age, have we lost the ability to interact with people face to face?  I know, there have been a million articles discussing this very subject, but I am writing another one.  This is from the perspective of the job search.

Technology has helped in the job search in more ways than I could list.  Primarily, the ability to search multiple job boards using defined parameters.  No more buying the local newspaper and circling ads.  We can easily find jobs in other cities, states and countries.  If you use you can also have your colleagues and clients write personal references for you.  Also, gone are the days of printing off you résumé, on just the right paper, putting it into a matching envelope with your accompanying cover letter, scrounging for a stamp and putting it in the mail. We can now attach or resumes easily in any format and include cover letters in the email body.  How much in  easier can it be.  All of these “technology touch points” are great and really do not cut down on the human interaction factor.

So, where does the disconnect come in?  Local job searches.  I can understand receiving an email from a company in another state requesting to set-up a phone interview.  That is the most efficient and cost-effective method.  It would be a bit time-consuming and costly to fly 30 applicants to you for a first interview.  But local companies?  Really? I have received multiple responses to resumes I have sent out to companies within 25 miles of my home.  All of them have sent emails requesting phone interviews.  In some cases, I have had multiple phone interviews.  Now granted, this is nice from the stand point that I can interview in my pajamas and bunny slippers, but not as effective as an in-person interview.  There are can even automated phone interview services.  Some of these services even offer video services.  In the latter case, I would have to ditch the pajama top for something a bit more professional, but the bunny slippers would be fine.

Again, let me reiterate, this is a great way to go for out-of-town interviews.  But, there is a great deal lost for both sides.  We are forgetting the ever-present body language.  It is difficult from the perspective of the interviewees to fully engage the interviewer.  For me this is key.  My personality is not just a phone voice, unless of course that is the job I am applying for.  For the interviewer, how do you pick up on sincerity, knowledge (I could have a lot of notes in front of me), engagement and so many other nuances.  If you are local, invite the candidate in for an interview.  It may take only 5 minutes, but will be well worth the time.  As the potential candidate, I feel that I am then able to give you my all, the entire package.

Words Fail Me

I actually first saw this video a couple of years ago and nearly fainted.  I thought I would be a bit more ready for the second viewing, I was wrong.  I have to admit, that I am terrified of open heights and elevators in tall buildings.  It is completely incomprehensible to me how someone could do this job at all, let alone without a safety net of sorts.

World’s Scariest Job

As an aside, the answer is No, this is not a stupid “turn up the sound and watch closely” and something will jump out at you video.  This is actual footage of workers climbing to the top of a 1748 foot transmission tower.

Offshore Drilling to Resume

WOW!  Have we learned anything from last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?  This week it was announced that the first “post-disaster’ Gulf drilling permit was issued.  The lucky winning lobbying team, I mean company, is Noble Energy Inc..  The real kickers is:

The Huffington Post – At 6,500 feet below the surface, Noble’s well is deeper than BP’s blown out Macondo well. In a worst-case scenario, the company told regulators its well could spill nearly 3 million gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. At its peak, the BP well spilled 2.6 million gallons per day.

U.S. Approves First Deepwater Drilling Permit In Gulf Of Mexico Since BP Oil Spill

Are you kidding me?  The impact studies from the BP disaster are still in the early stages.  There are so many areas that were affected, e.g., health of residents and clean-up workers, environment, local economies, and tourism to name a few.  I could give you links to articles about long-term impacts, but the list would be too long.

Additionally, there are rumors that BP owns a stake in Noble Energy, Inc., but I still view it as a rumor.  Below, I have included a repost of an earlier blog entry from the time of the oil spill.

JUNE 8, 2010

Agree or disagree, I don’t care.  This is my opinion.  After watching all the posts and groups forming everyday on social media sites, I can’t keep quiet about this any longer. What am I referring to?  The Gulf oil spill resulting from the explosion on a BP owned drilling platform in April 2010.

I am NOT blaming BP for this environmental disaster. WE, as in all of us, are to blame. This oil spill could have been the result of a blow out on any one of the oil rigs sitting out there in the Gulf of Mexico, BP owned or otherwise. It is our greed and laziness that has caused this.  We have all been wearing blinders about the dangers to man, beast and environment.  There really is no safe method for extracting fossil fuels from the earth.  I think that offshore drilling is the most irresponsible of all methods.  Yet we continue to drill offshore using bigger drill platforms and creating more risk.

We are far to dependent on fossil fuels for our daily existence. As long as we need ANY petroleum products, they will keep drilling. This oil is not used only to fuel our automobiles, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc. But, also in endless amounts of other products that we use everyday.

The question to ask yourself is “What am I doing to decrease/cut my dependence on fossil fuel”.

I AM, however, outraged that this has happened. We need to work diligently to get this stopped, cleaned up and compensate those people whose livelihoods have been damaged. We have been generous to others, now is a time to step up as a nation to help OUR country. We held telethons and fundraisers and clothing drives when Haiti was hit by a catastrophic earthquake.  We need to think about all the fisherman and people who are business owners or employees in the industries that rely on tourism on the gulf who no longer have the means to support their families.

The next disaster could be in your own backyard.


Another Energy “Solution”

OK, I have to admit, I am a dichotomy of sorts. I am a big fan of modern technology and all it has to offer. I Need my air conditioning in the summer and my heat (though less needed) in the winter. Electricity is a wonderful thing, used for many modern conveniences like refrigeration, powering my computer and charging my iPod. On the other hand, I am a proponent for the environment. We need to find ways to reduce our carbon footprints. Not because of the so-called “global warming” issues, but, because of other concerns about fossil fuels.

  • Eventually we will run out of fossil fuels.
  • They are dirty and cause more pollutants than I could list in one short blog.
  • Environmental disasters (Exxon Valdez, BP Gulf disaster, etc.)
  • Mining accidents
  • Destroying the natural beauties of the planet
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

The are as many opinions about the environment and what we need to do or not do as there are people on the planet.  We have so many forms of clean, alternative power sources that we have started to see more of and use.  Ways to harness the elements of the earth.  Wind power, solar power, hydro-electric power (not as environmentally friendly in its current use), and the list goes on.

While reading Wired today, I ran across an article from June 2009 about yet another potential source of energy uses.  I would not call it an alternative source so much as using all the bits and pieces of a system already being used.  It is tapping the wasted heat expelled when using steam power.  Here are a couple of lines from the article:

Take a jet engine hooked up to some big magnets, add some steam pipes, and what do you have? The comeback of some old-school technologies that could help solve our modern energy problem.

The idea is simple — generate both electricity and heat in the same place, but the potential benefits are big.etc, etc

Steam Tech Gets Less Punk, More Stimulus Money

Yes, this “fabulous” idea received stimulus money and it is probably a better use of the money than some of the places it was spent.  I see so many inherent problems with this energy solution. They are:

  • Great in the winter and in colder climates
  • Only cost-effective for new building projects
  • Not plausible on a large-scale

The lack of cost savings will be the first problem to overcome.  But the limitations I listed are what will prevent it from being a practical, long-term solution.  If they could find a cost-effective way to retrofit existing boiler systems, then maybe it could have legs.  What are your thoughts?

Insightful or Blasphemous?

For my first post, I want to open with something that will always get people talking, Historical Jesus versus Biblical Jesus.  I read a fascinating and intelligent article on about a top biblical scholar named John Crossan.  Here is how the article begins:

(CNN) — One of his first fan letters came from someone who declared:

“If Hell were not already created, it should be invented just for you.”

Other critics have called him “demonic,” “blasphemous” and a “schmuck.”

John Dominic Crossan’s ‘blasphemous’ portrait of Jesus

This man started out life as a devout Catholic, became a priest and then a biblical scholar while in the priesthood.  With that being said, please check out the article and let me know your opinions.

Personally, I am a believer in the historical Jesus.  I do not discount religion or faith.  Everyone needs to find their place in the world, religion and faith can play a strong part in that process.  The bible is a great piece of literature (yes, I went there).  As with any great work, whether it be art, music, books, etcetera, it is open to personal interpretation as well as scholarly dissection.  The advantage of scholars is the discussion and sharing of ideas and theories about any subject.  Look at the Renaissance.  Where would we have been today if these scholars, scientists, writers and artists had not questioned the status quo.  How about the period of Enlightenment? The list goes on, it is how we have evolved, intellectually, as a society.  If we stop learning, questioning, observing and challenging, where we will go and what will we become as a society.  i doubt anyone would challenge me if I were discussing politics, but religious devotees expect religion and faith to be left unchallenged.  I look forward to hearing your opinions on this.

Please click on the link above and read the article before commenting.