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Opinion Fukushima fails as Facebook fodder

George HasaraWhether it be Miley Cyrus' “twerking” or Duck Dynasty's Patriarch Phil Robertson giving tips on sex, it makes one wonder about what passes for news nowadays. Meanwhile, back at the radioactive ranch, Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to emit dangerous radiation and is only another earthquake away from taking it to the next level.

I like to check Google to get a rough idea of trends and interests. Currently, Google search results are 15 million for Fukushima and 364 million for Duck Dynasty. It's a nobrainier what is more important in our collective psyche. Plus, how many T-shirts are you going to sell with an image of spent nuclear fuel rods?

However, in all fairness to Duck Dynasty fans, it is hard to get riled up about something you really don't understand, such as the end of the world as we know it. The following excerpt is from a Reuters news story.

Tepco said combined Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 readings just outside the damaged No. 2 reactor spiked to 1,200 becquerels per liter on Wednesday, more than 13 times the level on Tuesday.

What the heck does that mean? Is Cesium some kind of multiple vitamin? I don't speak French so I'm not even going to pretend to know what becquerels mean. How many of us are prone to read such an article and then do the research necessary to have a rudimentary understanding of what we just read? And, most importantly, are you going to see the above quote posted on Facebook?

A doctorate in biology isn't required to comprehend Robertson's unflattering quotes concerning homosexuality made in the now famous/infamous GQ magazine interview. I'm not sure where he was going with his remarks on how content black folks were in Louisiana, but his statements about gays were straightforward.

There's nothing new about controversy being manufactured over an interview such as the one that led to the “Beatles are bigger than Jesus” controversy. In 1966, John Lennon gave an interview in a British publication that included his musings on religion. There was no public outcry at the time, but months later, a sizable segment of the American population wasbreathing second-hand vinyl smoke from the burning of the Fab Four's records.

The best I can figure, is that people like to use statements made by celebrities as a mechanism to debate issues by proxy. Rather than coming out directly and making their own statements, the conversation is about what someone else said. Perhaps, it's safer that way, certainly easier than crafting your own arguments. I didn't need Lennon to define spirituality and I certainly don't need Robertson to define sexuality.

The half-life of stories involving things like Robertson's opinions or Miley's exploits, are usually measured in days and then quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, the decay rate of radioactive materials last much longer. I don't know how dangerous the situation at the Japanese nuclear power plant is, but unless they make Fukushima into a reality show, it will be hard for the situation to get the attention it deserves.

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