Archive for the ‘Around the World’ Category

The Earthquake in Japan

March 13th, 2011 No comments

There are lots of posts up all over the net about the devastating 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan (there have been nearly 400 earthquakes off the coast of Japan in the last week, 34 of them have been of magnitude 6 and higher). I just thought I would post the links, images, and videos that I found must striking.

Japan Tsunami

A tsumani triggered by a powerful earthquake makes its way to sweep part of Sendai airport in northern Japan.


Google Crisis Response: 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami
World Vision Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief
Video: Earthquake in Tokyo from 22 stories up and 230 miles away from the epicenter
Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth’s axis
NHK World TV


Satellite Imagery:
NY Times: Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami
ABC News: Japan Earthquake: before and after
NASA Satellite Imagery

Photo Essays:
The Atlantic’s In Focus: Earthquake in Japan and Japan Earthquake Aftermath
The Big Picture: Japan: earthquake aftermath

NOAA Japan Earthquake Tsunami Model
OurAmazingPlanet: Japan Tsunami Earthquake Explained
Video: Raw Video: Tsunami Wave Smashes Boats and Cars
Video: Tsunami Flooding in Japan
Video: Flooding at the Airport
Video: Amateur video: Tsunami destroys Japanese village

Nuclear Reactor:
Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors
Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT
Nuclear Energy Institute: Information on the Japanese Earthquake and Reactors in That Region
World Nuclear News: Efforts to manage Fukushima Daiichi 3
World Nuclear News: Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors
ANS Nuclear Cafe: Media updates on nuclear power stations in Japan
How the nuclear emergency unfolded with an image that helps articulate why people don’t need to freak out:

Radiation Dosage Comparisons

Radiation Dosage Comparisons

Categories: Around the World Tags:

On Censoring and Double Standards

April 24th, 2010 2 comments

This business with Comedy Central, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and censorship is completely ridiculous. I won’t discuss the whole thing, Powerline has up a post, Bleeping Muhammad, that has some great things to read. I want to comment on two things: 1) how cowardly Comedy Central is, and 2) the Muslim double standard.

In an age where people over use “Freedom of speech” to mean they can say whatever they want, it is surprising how quickly Comedy Central folded. I am glad that in the US we do have freedom to say what we want (while I do think many take that freedom too far), and usually media giants love to tout their freedoms. But under a little pressure Comedy Central couldn’t uphold that freedom any more. What is the most sickening is not even that they would censor parts poking fun at Muhammad, but that they censored a speech about standing up to intimidation and fear. What is that crap? That speech is exactly the thing that I would want my students (many of whom I KNOW watch South Park) to hear. The irony is ripe: Comedy Central is intimidated so they censor a speech about fighting against intimidation? Lovely.

The reason Comedy Central caved is because of a glaring double standard. Mock Christians and Jesus all you want, but Muhammad and Islam are off limits. What bunk. Imagine a Christian objecting (even threatening life) to someone mocking Jesus. They wouldn’t be taken seriously at all; no one would care. Could you ever imagine Comedy Central censoring jokes about Jesus of Christians? I wouldn’t think so because they don’t and they mock all the time. Why is this double standard allowed to persist? Christians have to just deal with mockery (which I am fine with, God can handle it), but Muslims can just cry “You’re being mean!” and suggest someone might go the way of Theo Van Gogh and Muhammad becomes untouchable. Ridiculous.

Go read Powerline’s post as well as Newsbuster’s “Jon Stewart Notes Blatant Double Standard on ‘South Park’ Mohammed Censorship” and Mark Steyn’s “Not Too �Hip� and �Edgy� for Censorship”. And if you were so inclined, you could take part in the Everybody Draw Mohammad Day on May 20th.

An Open Letter to NBC: Coverage of the Winter Olympics

February 19th, 2010 5 comments

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

NBC Winter Olympics Fail

NBC Winter Olympics Fail

Sent to:
NBC: [email protected]
IOC Press Office: [email protected]
Olympic Broadcasting Services Vancouver: [email protected]
NBC’s vice president of sports communications: [email protected]
Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics: [email protected]

I live in Seattle; a little over two hours away from Vancouver, BC. I live in the United States; high definition cable with incredible variety in programming is accessible around the clock. I live in a world where global communication has never been easier and faster. And yet I cannot watch the Winter Olympics live. I have to wait until prime time to catch all the major events. Sure, I could watch curling and ice hockey on USA or MSNBC (both of which I do enjoy), but most events don’t come on until after 8pm. This, to me, is absurd. This clearly shows that NBC doesn’t have any regard for their viewers; you care about advertising spots that you can charge a premium for during prime time. But even that is inconsistent because you are willing to let the Olympics play from midnight to 5am; who is watching then? Wouldn’t more people watch during the day, white the events are actually happening?

What makes this even worse, is that during the selected events you choose to show during prime time, a very large portion of that precious time is filled with commercials or with commentators talking about the sports. If you are going to pack a day’s worth of events into the three or four hours of prime time, I, and I am sure many other countless viewers, would rather be watching the events themselves! (Sports anchors should be briefly talking about sporting events, not being the events; I am not watching to see them!)

Your coverage is completely intolerable and you should be embarrassed for having the worst production in the world (countless other countries not only have live programming of the events, but also live streaming on the web!). You should be ashamed and change they way things are doing. Caring for the viewers of your programs might actually be a worthy policy.

Please reconsider the choices you have made for your Winter (and Summer!) Olympics TV coverage.

???? ?? ???????? ???
-Matt Jones, Seattle, WA
Matthew James Jones
[email protected]

UPDATE: Here is a great article from CIO: NBC Olympic Coverage: is the Internet the Enemy?

Categories: Around the World, Daily Life Tags:

Providing Water to Families in Africa: Water Filter Comparisons

November 25th, 2009 5 comments

A number of people I know have mentioned the Blood:Water Mission and I have even supported a book reading challenge to raise money for that cause (still time to support her!). They are an organization looking to help out Africa. In their own words:

We�re a group of passionate people who have been inspired by our friends in Africa, friends who face unbearable challenges from the HIV/AIDS and water crises. We creatively and thoughtfully raise awareness and the necessary funds for the provision of clean blood and clean water in sub-Saharan Africa.

When they came out with their Christmas Clean Water Challenge, I was very interested in chipping in and helping out. This desire started a very insightful conversation between me, a few friends, and two different water filtration proponents.

The discussion started when Vimal, who has worked with water filtration systems in Africa, was curious about the $85 cost for the biosand water filter through Blood:Water Mission’s Christmas Challenge. This is the conversation that we had (hope you are ok with this Vimal!):

Vimal Shenoy: 85 bucks? How many filters? That’s an expensive filter for developing countries. When I did water filtration work in Africa, our filters cost less than $25 to make and distribute… But whatever.

Matt Jones: Here, watch this video, tell me what you think.

Vimal Shenoy: interesting… if it’s true that it’s good for 20 years, then it may be worth it, though wikipedia only cites 10 years. there’s a lot of factors to consider when choosing water purification means, so I’m not going to diss this means.

Matt Jones: What system did you guys use? I am curious what the differences are and if there are different benefits to either of them. They might be interested in checking out other options as well. Another guy I know used these filters in Haiti and passed on the link. I think this is an important discussion to have because I always get frustrated when non-profs are not using their money wisely. I trust Blood:Water Mission and would love to pass on any other info on what you used.

Vimal Shenoy: yeah, we used potters for peace. I could come downstairs and explain more… but for sam’s sake i’ll put a brief blurb. Basically what we used were what looked like flower pots, the most expensive parts being the plastic pot and spigot. We went to an organization within Benin and taught them how to make them properly and they make them in country with materials there (dirt, coconut shells, whatever else you use in pots). When we left them they were selling them for 25 dollars or so, but we calculated that if they made the plastic parts there, they could sell them for less than 10 dollars, which is a significant difference in that area of the world. Replacement filters after ~10 years is 4-6 dollars, so maintenance is low… take a look at this.

Vimal Shenoy: the greatest downside is the rate of water filtration. only 2.5 liter per hour as opposed to 40 in the other system. but if you distribute these on a household level, they are definitely worthwhile. 2.5 litres x 10 hours is enough for everyone to drink in a household.

Matt Jones: Awesome! That is good information to have. I imagine that the most expensive part of the biosand filters is the “biological layer” (whatever that is). I will definitely pass that on. I am assuming they have looked at other options as well, but have other options available is always good.

As you suggest, there could definitely be benefits to either system and context probably means a lot. It would be good to hear from the organization about how they picked this particular method.

Matt Jones: Got a pretty good response from the Blood:Water Mission people, here is a part:

“As a part of this program, every family wanting filter sends a family member to a three day training held at the compound. As a part of this training, the family member learns about biosand filters, how to maintain the filter, as well as the basics of hygiene & sanitation (there are complete hygiene & sanitation trainings done in villages separate of this training). They also make their own biosand filter, which is then installed in their home at the end of the week. This is a much more intensive process in terms of space, personnel, and time than is typically used in biosand filter programs, but we have found that it is very effective in terms of local empowerment and sustainability. This cost also pays for some follow-up from staff to make sure that everything taught in the training is being implemented in the homes.”

Vimal Shenoy: ah very good. i see now why the cost is somewhat elevated. but with that follow up that’s really good. interesting.

Matt Jones: Indeed. I suppose the important part is not just the cost of the filter at all, but the cost of training and providing resources to help with sustainability and positive practices.

Matt Jones: I just got this from Potters for Peace:

“On our website there is a comparison study, at least one, on the �filters� sub page �studies� Yes, the ceramic filter is less expensive, the price varies but generally retails for $15-$25 ready to use with sustainable profit and all costs included. The ceramic filter also usually is more effective at removing bacteria than the bio-sand. One could argue also that the ceramic filter is more user friendly in terms of maintenance. The idea of using terra cotta clay for water treatment is easily accepted and something with a long history in the developing world, many users claim that they prefer the taste of water passed through clay.”

Here is the link to the study he mentioned.

The study was actually quite interesting, you should read it. I am actually going to write up a post about all of this actually, it has been quite helpful.

I would recommend reading the study: Comparative Analysis of the Filtron and Biosand Water Filters. Here is their conclusion:

The Filtron [the ceramic Potters for Peace filter] is more effective in removing E. coli and total coliformes than the biosand filter, but a flow rate of only 1-2 liters per hour and the frequent need for cleaning limit its ability to meet UN minimum requirements. The biosand filter’s flow rate is adequate to meet this standard for quantity, but not consistently for quality, as defined by the WHO. It is, therefore recommended that the filtered water from the biosand filter be disinfected in some manner, such as UV radiation or chlorination, before being consumed.

The cost of the Biosand filter is more expensive but can handle a larger load, but the Filtron system seems to remove bacteria better. One comment from the study suggests that the biological layer (the “schmutzdecke“) of the Biosand filter could take time before it becomes most effective (they saw better and more consistent results near the end of the trial). Also, a disadvantage to the Filtron system (aside from the lower flow rate) is that it requires frequent cleaning to be effective. This could be a huge problem for areas that not only have contaminated water, but small amounts of water.

Anecdotally, both filters have support. Vimal has personal, positive experiences with the Potters for Peace ceramic filters and Nathan had this to say:

biosand is overall the best for family/in-house use. its super simple, super low maintenance, and with a little training can last for 20 years with no costs. so… i’ve yet to hear of anything that can beat that… it’s because it mainly uses a biological layer to eat all the nasty bacteria… however, it does not filter pesticides and other chemicals… which are not usually present in 3rd world countries… so its usually highly effective

Clearly, there are a lot of factors that go into choosing a filter and providing support that goes along with it.

I am still sold on supporting Blood:Water Mission’s Christmas Challenge. I want to purchase at least one Biodsand filter and have a few people already willing to help out. I would love to purchase more, so please let me know if you are interested in helping. My family is also interested in supporting this cause sometime this year (as a group we are supporting Heifer International this Christmas). If you would like to join me, please let me know and I can coordinate OR feel free to donate directly to them or to their Christmas Challenge. OR, if you feel the Potters for Peace method is more to your liking, you should donate directly to them. Either way, I highly recommend that you be giving this Christmas season (and all year really) and spending less on “things.”

Election Day! Go Vote!

November 4th, 2008 2 comments

This is a big day for our coutry and I am willing to bet that there will be a record number of people out voting today (or have already done so by absentee). Those that have read my blog before will know my political leanings and will know who I am voting for. Am I super thrilled with either candidate? Not necessarily. I haven’t been extremely political lately mainly because I have been busy. But I know this is an important race for the United States and look forward to the future of our country.

I only ask two things of you: 1) Go vote. Check for your local polling stations. 2) Don’t vote for superficial reasons. “He’s cool” or “he sucks” or “he isn’t this” or “blah blah blah” are NOT good reasons to vote for someone. Become informed. Take a look at what you really believe and vote that way. There won’t be any one candidate who ever fits for idea, but you can decide what is most important to you and vote that way.

You should also stop by Google’s 2008 Election Coverage. Here is a cool map that will be displaying poll information as they report (and some other cool election maps).

Vote well.

Categories: Around the World, Politics Tags:

My Namesake

July 10th, 2008 1 comment

I noticed that I was seeing a lot more traffic to my blog today. I couldn’t figure out what would cause that. I am used to getting search results for “Matt Jones” (even though there are some millions of us out there!), but today I was seeing more. Then I noticed that many of the search terms had “arrested” in there as well.


It turns out one of my namesakes, who plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was arrested early today on a felony drug charge.

Thanks Matt, I appreciate the press. If only I could somehow capitalize on it… nah.

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