… another angel
This one was quietly but appropriately dressed in cellophane, synthetic
rubber and stainless steel,
But his mask was the blind mask of Ares, snouted for gasmasks.
He was neither soldier, sailor, farmer, dictator, nor munitions-manufacturer.
Nor did he have much conversation, except to say,
“You will not be saved by General Motors or the prefabricated house.
You will not be saved by dialectic materialism or the Lambeth Conference.
You will not be saved by Vitamin D or the expanding universe.
In Fact, you will not be saved.”
In his hand was a woven, wire basket, full of seeds, small metallic and
shining like the seeds of portulaca;
Where he sowed them, the green vine withered, and the smoke and
armies sprang up.
“Nightmare, With Angels” by Steven Vincent Benet
Hot or not: Hiroko Aki, a resident of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, places a food sample in a radiation detector Oct. 11 at Bec-Miru, a DIY irradiation scanning store in nearby Kashiwa. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO
Kashiwa is a suburb to the north of Tokyo. A little over 400,000 people live there. It is for the most part unremarkable, save for in one respect: It is the first city in Japan, or in the world for that matter, to have a new business that is emblematic of Japan’s troubles in the 21st century.
Ever since October, Motohiro Takamatsu has been offering a unique service. For 980 Yen (about $12) his customers can spend 20 minutes scanning their groceries, their top soil, or whatever they are concerned about for radioactive contamination. Takamatsu imported several gamma spectroscopy machines from Germany at about a million Yen each (about $12,800). The devices can detect radioactive isotopes of Cesium in traces as low as 20 bacquerels, as long as the customers can provide a 1 kg sample to test.
Teachers in Tohoku now carry Geiger counters to check radiation levels on school grounds, and cesium isotopes have shown up in baby formula, rice and tea. In as much as the Fukashima reactors are likely to continue leaking for some time, testing food seems likely to become a growth industry.