Tagged: problems

Japan’s post-tsunami reconstruction efforts hampered by ghosts

Japan’s reconstruction following the devastating earthquake and tsunami nearly one year ago exactly is being delayed by an unlikely factor – ghosts.

Numerous reports of ghost sightings have reportedly been made by residents in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, home to nearly a fifth of all tsunami fatalities.

Reconstruction and repair have been put on hold in some instances due to workers’ fears that the spirits of the dead who passed away a year ago will bring them bad luck if they continue…

A taxi driver, who did not want to be named, added that he was unwilling to stop in certain parts of the city that were badly damaged in the tsunami for fear of picking up a customer who is a spirit of the dead.

Meanwhile, another local woman described hearing stories of people seeing queues of people rushing towards the hills, a replay of their final moment as they attempted to escape the tsunami…

As the first anniversary of the disaster approaches, Ishinomaki appears, on the surface at least, to be returning to a new level of normality, with the tsunami debris cleared away in most areas and a growing number of businesses reopening…

However, experts described the city’s apparent widespread belief in ghosts as a “natural” side effect of a large-scale tragedy which wiped out vast swathes of the community and a potentially positive part of the healing process.

“Human beings find it very difficult to accept death, whether they are inclined by nature to superstition or are very scientifically minded,” said Takeo Funabiki, a cultural anthropologist…

When there are things that many people find difficult to accept, they can find expression in the form of rumours or rituals for the dead, among other things. The point is that it takes the shape of something that you can share with other people in your society.”

I can’t take ghosts – or angels – or some grayhead in the sky very seriously. Of course, I understand the reasons for denial, the pain and anguish over the loss of dear ones. I’ve been through it enough times myself.

I just settle down with simple psychological parameters. If you’re well balanced and sound within your self-understanding of reality, it takes six weeks max to reaccustom yourself to extreme loss. The other thing I always do is to skip having a touch of a single malt whiskey to “sooth” the pain. Crutches are as difficult to get rid of as the pain that brings them on.

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Is it time for the FDA to revise their food colorings warning?

After staunchly defending the safety of artificial food colorings [for decades], the federal government is for the first time publicly reassessing whether foods like Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal and Minute Maid Lemonade should carry warnings that the bright artificial colorings in them worsen behavior problems like hyperactivity in some children.

The Food and Drug Administration concluded long ago that there was no definitive link between the colorings and behavior or health problems, and the agency is unlikely to change its mind any time soon. But on Wednesday and Thursday, the F.D.A. will ask a panel of experts to review the evidence and advise on possible policy changes, which could include warning labels on food.

The hearings signal that the growing list of studies suggesting a link between artificial colorings and behavioral changes in children has at least gotten regulators’ attention — and, for consumer advocates, that in itself is a victory…

There is no debate about the safety of natural food colorings, and manufacturers have long defended the safety of artificial ones as well. In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said, “All of the major safety bodies globally have reviewed the available science and have determined that there is no demonstrable link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity among children…”

The F.D.A. scientists suggest that problems associated with artificial coloring might be akin to a peanut allergy, or “a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties” of the dyes themselves. As it does for peanuts and other foods that can cause reactions, the F.D.A. already requires manufacturers to disclose on food labels the presence of artificial colorings…

The panel will almost certainly ask that more research on the subject be conducted, but such calls are routinely ignored. Research on pediatric behaviors can be difficult and expensive to conduct since it often involves regular and subjective assessments of children by parents and teachers who should be kept in the dark about the specifics of the test. And since the patents on the dyes expired long ago, manufacturers have little incentive to finance such research themselves.

… Some grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, refuse to sell foods with artificial coloring.

Since we do 99% of our food shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s – I guess this is a moot point in our family. Still, the FDA is missing an important point – one that consumer groups might pursue. How long ago were the tests devised that provided assurance for the FDA? Are they out-of-date?

There is no shortage of ailments previously not tracked to a point source – which have been revised over time as newer and more accurate testing technologies have been discovered. Maybe it’s time for the FDA to update their knowledge base, eh?