Showing posts from 2019

The Atlantic: Atomic Veterans Were Silenced for 50 Years. Now, They're Talking. 29,594 views

An account of experiences, that none of us can ever expect to have. Except, they were ordered to be there, close by, by their government, by their superiors. This happened back in the 1950s, just a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. May 27, 2019 | Video by Morgan Knibbe Nearly everyone who’s seen it and lived to tell the tale describes it the same way: a horrifying, otherworldly thing of ghastly beauty that has haunted their life ever since. “The colors were beautiful,” remembers a man in Morgan Knibbe’s short documentary The Atomic Soldiers . “I hate to say that.” “It was completely daylight at midnight—brighter than the brightest day you ever saw,” says another. Many tales of the atomic bomb, however, weren’t told at a

OECD Report on Japan's Farming

Some interesting observations about the just released OECD report on Japan's "productivity and sustainability" when it comes to its farm sector. The focus on climate change shocks may be the most important message, but I would have liked more details how Japan could encourage its organic farmers: OSAKA -   With Japanese food products becoming increasingly popular with foreign tourists, especially those from Asia, the country’s agricultural sector has a bright future if it can change its policies to embrace technological innovation and entrepreneurship, an OECD report on the country’s agricultural productivity and sustainability has concluded. “Our advice to Japan is: ‘You need to speed up the pace at which you move away from protection, invest more in sustainability, productivity, including research and development and other forms of innovation,’ ” said Ken Ash, director of trade and agriculture at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in an inter

My Ten Best Movies With An Environmental Theme

Wow, this is not an easy post to write! With all the media attention on environmental issues, it struck me as odd that there are so few movies about the state of our planet. Our natural environment and issues like climate change, pollution, loss of biological diversity, loss of fertile top soil (erosion) and such... Hey, you may even think Hollywood and the other movie studios around the world were sponsored by investors that didn't give a sh$%&t. So, what do you think? Do add your favourite movie with an environmental theme in the comments. My Best Movies With An Environmental Theme:   Local Hero (1983) about an oil company representative sent to the Scottish village of Ferness to purchase the town and surrounding property for his company. Music by Mark Knopfler. (Thanks Tom for introducing)   Never Cry Wolf (1983) about a researcher assigned by his government to travel to the Canadian Arctic to study the wolves that are believed responsible for the reduction of the

Guardian: World's food supply under 'severe threat' from loss of biodiversity

Great to see this is the top news on The Guardian today. While we worry about climate change, don't forget that loss of biological diversity is another huge issue. And that does not just mean we should care about rare animals. Our entire food supply depends on too few crops: Two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species (sugar cane, maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, sugar beet and cassava), while many of the remaining 6,000 cultivated plant species are in decline and wild food sources are becoming harder to find. Although consumers did not yet notice any impact when they went shopping, the authors of the report said that could change. “The supermarkets are full of food, but it is mostly imports from other countries and there are not many varieties. The reliance on a small number of species means they are more susceptible to disease outbreaks and climate change. It renders food production less resilient,” warned Julie Bélanger, the coordinator

BBC The Sky at Night 2018 Guides Galaxies

How we learnt about living in a galaxy, and finding out that there are many more out there.

Reading a Musical Score: Sibelius The Sky at Night

If you love music, do learn how to read a musical score. My father spent a lot of time with me when I was a kid, working through the musical score. This is what a conductor has in front of him, be it a small chorus or a symphony orchestra. It all starts with the musical score. The director has to read it all, page after page. We just hear the magic. Here is a track that you may know, by Jean Sibelius. This music is familiar to British television viewers as the theme of the world's longest-running TV programme (1957-present), BBC and the The Sky at Night.

Kamikaze to Croydon at the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama

Today, I went to the Aviation Museum in Tokorozawa, Saitama prefecture, to give them a copy of my novel, Kamikaze to Croydon. I bet they were a bit surprised. I had not called ahead, which I should have done, and I have no calling card (meishi) to explain the details of my endeavor. 所沢航空発祥記念館 Tokorozawa Aviation Museum They kindly accepted my book for their library, and we had a lot of laughs. I suggested that they do a more thorough and large exhibition of the 1937 flight. I also mentioned that at Croydon in London, they had a proper display of the arrival, with lots of photos and more, while here in Japan, there is no such thing. Click here, and you can purchase my novel Kamikaze to Croydon on Amazon Iinuma Masaaki is a promising young pilot from the mountains of Nagano, Japan, who only has thoughts of flying for the Morning Sun newspaper. When he learns of a prize for the first aviator to fly from Tokyo to London in under 100 hours, he knows he has the will to

One Chance for Glory

1931: The first pilot to fly across the Pacific was Clyde Pangborn, and here is a great documentary on Youtube (only about 500 views, how about it). Great film clips from back in the early 1930s. He is remembered in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, and in Washington State, U.S. For their accomplishment, Pangborn and Herndon were awarded the the White Medal of Merit of the Imperial Aeronautical Society by Consul General Kensuke Horinouchi. The presentation took place at the Japanese consulate on 21 November 1931. The United States National Aeronautic Association awarded the two men its 1931 National Harmony Trophy. And here is a novel that tells the story. One Chance for Glory by Edward (Ted) Heikell and Robert (Bob) Heikel, both from Washington State, U.S. Synopsis Pangborn flew 4500 miles over water in a Single Engine Land airplane, jettisoned his landing gear into the ocean to save drag, climbed outside at 17,000 feet in the frigid ai

So, Who Was The First To Fly Across The Pacific Ocean?

Quiz time - we all know the name of Charles Lindbergh flying from the US to Europe in 1927. Many other flight records were as important, but who did the first flight across the Pacific Ocean? What sets Lindbergh's record apart is that it was a solo flight. Not particularly useful, but in that day an age, it caught the attention of the general public and the media. More realistically, a pilot needed a navigator, as in my novel, Kamikaze to Croydon. Breaking the record and flying from Japan to Europe in just four days in 1937 could not be done solo. American Wiley Post and Harold Gatty did the first round-the-world flight in 1930, after the German Graf Zeppelin, piloted by Hugo Eckener had pioneered that particular feat (including a landing in Japan). Canadian pilot Harald Bromly was the first to make a serious attempt at the Pacific, but failed when starting from Tacoma, Washington State, U.S. ''I find it difficult to convince many persons that this proposed flight