Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Sky Is Falling Again

I love a chilling tale, you know the kind that sends shivers down your spine. Here’s one I heard about a farmer somewhere on the eastern end of Long Island, New York. He was out working his potato fields one day when he witnessed something that would forever change his view of the world. It was the kind of occurrence he had only read about. Mostly he read about it in the headlines splashed across the tabloids that filled the rack near the cash register at his local supermarket. What he saw was an object streak across the sky and then fall to the ground with an earth-shattering thud. 

Quick as a jackrabbit he high-tailed it to the exact spot where he saw the object hit the earth. There he discovered a glimmering sky-blue crystal. It was the most beautiful gem he had ever laid eyes on. He ripped off his red plaid flannel shirt and carefully wrapped the heaven sent treasure, cradling it in his arms like a new born baby. That's when he noticed it was beginning to melt from the heat escaping his body. Before he could think of what to do next, his feet were carrying him in the direction of home where he luckily had a freezer.

Once his find was safely stored away in the frozen vault, he got on the horn to his local newspaper to report the discovery. The paper dutifully sent a reporter out to cover the sensational event that very same evening. As soon as the newspaper man laid his eyes on the unidentified frozen object, they began to twinkle as a peevish grin rippled across his face. Glancing over at the farmer the newsman proclaimed, “I know what this is. I’ve seen it before. It looks like an Icy BM.” Looking more than a bit perplexed, the farmer’s jaw dropped just a fraction as he lifted his hand to scratch the back of his head. The reporter continued, “It happens. Planes flying into New York night and day, occasionally one looses the waste water from its toilet compartment. You know they use that sanitizer that gives it that bluish tinge. It freezes in the upper atmosphere and when it drops, you get a big block of blue ice in your back yard." Then he added with a wave of his hand, "Don’t worry your secret is safe with me, I won’t print a word of it.” Both embarrassed and relieved at the same time, the farmer thanked the reporter as he left and then promptly buried the chunk of blue ice along with his flannel shirt as deep in the ground and as far away from the house as he could.

Stories of Icy BM’s are legion and they are everywhere. Over the past year or so I’ve seen a lot of this blue ice, most of it wrapped up in the newspaper.  I'm not alone either. The H-Yamaguch.net website tells the story of how on February 28, 2012 one of Japan’s most prestigious dailies delivered up a big scoop of blue ice. 

In its coverage of the findings of an independent commission investigating the nuclear disaster at the TEPCO nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the paper paints former PM Kan as a meddling micro manager who only exacerbated the dangers at the crippled reactor. The paper quoted a Cabinet Office-appointed advisor, Kenichi Shimomura, who was on the scene at the nuclear plant as saying Kan’s management of the disaster, in which he involved himself in the nitty gritty details (like personally ordering the mobile generators known as ground power units) “sent chills up his spine.” It was a scary a picture that showed how an overbearing lunatic catapulted the nation into the throws of catastrophe.

What’s perhaps even scarier is that the picture isn’t even near complete. Shortly after the paper hit the newsstands, the same Cabinet Office advisor whose words frame the news story began tweeting an entirely different account of the same event via Twitter. He claims his words were used out of context. Not only that, it looks like they were edited to fit a narrative scripted purely for political gain. What “sent chills up his spine” he says is the fact that while everything was falling apart around them, the so called “experts” were standing around with their hands in their pockets leaving the monumental task of reigning in the nuclear monster all in the hands of the prime minister. Those little tweets along with a recently released TEPCO memo describing events of the same day portray a capable leader taking charge of a series of events that had been left to spin out of control. Only readers of one of the nation’s most influential sources of information would never have known that after reading its account. As far as they could tell from the article, it looked like the sky was falling that day and it was all Kan’s fault.

The truth is blue ice happens to fall and it can be found in the most unlikely spots, including some of the world's most respected newspapers. The trouble is I’m just like that farmer. I see a beautiful blue chunk of ice that is from out of this world and I want to hold on to it forever. Then when I find out what it really is I try to bury it as deep as possible to hide the fact that I ever knew anything about it in the first place and avoid any embarrassment. No matter what you do with it, that blue ice stinks. We obviously have planes that can get rid of it on their own, now we just need to expose it in the media and get rid of it there too.

Related post: The Sky Is Falling

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