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In the mid-90's, the Japanese nerve gas cult Aum Shinrikyo was for a while suspected of testing a nuke in the Australian outback. From The New York Times (story from 1997):
Senate investigators found that the group had thousands of disciples in Russia and had bought guns, a military helicopter and other weapons there. The group's construction minister, Kiyohide Hayakawa, the reputed mastermind of the cult's efforts to arm itself, went to Russia 21 times from 1992 to 1995, visiting there a total of 180 days.

Senate investigators say the cult recruited at least two nuclear scientists in Russia.

Notebooks later seized from Mr. Hayakawa show he wanted to buy the ultimate munition there. In one entry, he asked, ''How much is a nuclear warhead?'' and listed several prices.

In Australia, the activities were just as troubling. Cult members arrived in April 1993, a little more than month before the mystery blast. Mr. Hayakawa, apparently fresh from visits to Russia, was among the initial party. After visiting several remote sites, the group bought a 500,000-acre sheep farm in Banjawam, Australia, about 400 miles northeast of Perth. The site has a known uranium deposit.

The cult eventually brought in chemicals, gas masks and respirators, and picks, shovels, mining equipment and a mechanical ditch digger. It also set up a laboratory stocked with computers, glass tubing, glass evaporators, beakers, Bunsen burners, mixing bowls and a rock-crushing machine.

Documents seized from Mr. Hayakawa include some 10 pages written during his visit to Australia in April and May 1993 that refer to the whereabouts of Australian properties rich in uranium, including one reference praising the high quality of the ore.

The disturbance shook the earth on May 28, 1993, at 11:03 P.M. local time, but it was not until after the Tokyo attack of March 1995, that an Australian geologist, Harry Mason, brought the seismic upset to the attention of Australian Federal Police and Senate investigators. He was prompted in part by public disclosures in June 1995 of uranium mining at the cult's ranch.
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Paypal are taking contributions on behalf of various charities for Japanese tsunami relief.
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Reactor no 1 is the cubical building in the centre of the picture, at the end of the row of four.


Before and after together:


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I think jetlag and culture shock are catching up with Justin in this one. It's a shame that he couldn't work up the scene in the manzai sensei's office into a skit, but I guess manzai doesn't allow for a three-man format.
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It's 12:45 pm Tokyo time, 4:45 am local time, and I've just realised I left my toiletries bag in a bathroom in Tokyo.
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Kirsten Dunst performing a certain Vapors hit in Akihabara.

That reminds me, I should really start revising my Japanese.
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So Hal-Con is on on the weekend of 10–11th April. Looks like it's going to be a little more low-key than the 2007 Worldcon, but still quite anglophone-friendly. But, but, but...

Airfare: £700ish

Two weeks hotel or ryoukan: £500ish, maybe more

A two-week JR railpass: £300ish

And I'll probably break another camera, so that would be another £100 or so.

I could buy a new laptop for all that, a nice one.

But, on the other hand... Japan! I could go to Nagasaki, and visit Gunkanjima. Do Kyoto properly. Maybe summon the courage to go up the Tokyo Tower. Catch the cherry blossoms. Maybe see the north.

I got a gap in my OU schedule, I could spare the time. But the money.... I shouldn't be planning this. I shouldn't.
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Circa 1866
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Circa 1866


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