International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Today is the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

This simple but effective video on the subject is more than a little chilling, and there were possibly more…


Pronouncing Armageddon

This is not the most important story going on in the world today obviously, but a little thing that has been written about before and I’ve noticed happening with increasing irregularity, is the change in the pronunciation of the word “nuclear”.

Now, the pronunciation of wBHl8CUrCIAAy4uk.jpg largeords changes often, and this comes about over time through usage. Spelling can change to reflect new pronunciations, and the reverse is also true.

With the nuclear example though, something different seems to have been going on.

Bush famously couldn’t seem to pronounce the word New-Cleer and always pronounced it as Nuke-U-Lar, and was of course pilloried for doing so. There was even a Simpsons joke about it. Then, for one or both of a couple of possible reasons that I am about to outline, people started using the Bush pronunciation.

But which people? I noticed it pronounced that way with increasing regularity on Fox News by presenters and by other Republican apparatchiks who, surely, must have known better.

Thinking it through, the possible reasons for this could be…

  1. They heard it on TV/Radio and repeated the pronunciation they heard. Monkey hear, Monkey repeat.
  2. An attempt to cover up the fact that the former president was an ignoramus by rallying round him and using the same pronunciation so that it didn’t seem so bad.

I can’t really think of another reason. Either way, it isn’t very flattering toward people who should know better.

It’s an interesting little case study in how at times reality must be shifted in order to impose a Leader’s view of the world, or at least not make them look silly, and then everyone else must be brought to heel. With the modern echo chamber, it seems that in terms of pronunciation, this can be done faster than ever before.

I Still Don’t Want His New-Clarity

A Professor David Phillips, who is chairman of the Royal Society of Chemistry, has come out and said that the reason certain people don’t like nuclear power is because of James Bond baddies giving it a bad name.

More specifically, according to the BBC,

Prof David Phillips says that Dr No, with his personal nuclear reactor, helped to create a “remorselessly grim” reputation for atomic energy.

Prof Phillips was speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of the movie.

The chemistry organisation says it wants a “renaissance” in nuclear power.

Prof Phillips says the popularity of the Dr No movie from 1962 created an enduringly negative image of nuclear power – as something dangerous that could be wielded by megalomaniacs with aspirations to world domination.

Furthermore, he exhorts…

“Let’s say yes to nuclear and no to Dr No’s nonsense.”

Greenpeace managed to get the funny response in first though, so I won’t bother with that…

Richard George of Greenpeace said: “A handful of Bond films haven’t tarnished the nuclear industry’s reputation. They’ve managed to do that all by themselves.

“I don’t think they’ve got a top secret fake volcanic island though. But if they did, it would probably be cheaper to build than a nuclear power station.”

I think a lot of people might have more objections to things like  Caesium 137 and 134  which are “as it were, the fingerprint of Sellafield” at the side of railway tracks, than ridiculous spy films.

Also, maybe the information on either this list of civilian nuclear accidents or this list from Greenpeace might have stuck in the mind more than comic villains. I have put the Greenpeace one on the continuation of this article if you want to see it here.

Professor Phillips was recently on Desert Island Discs, I wonder if this was one of his choices…


Saving Lives & Saving Hides

At this precise moment of writing (13.30 – 14/03/2011) there are nuclear engineers risking their lives to keep the situation under control in Japan. These are brave people. They are doing this in the interests primarily of themselves and their families, but also in the long-term interest of everyone.

The reports coming out are mixed but at the moment it seems that a full meltdown is unlikely. We can only hope that things remain that way.

Although the scale of the disaster may not be as big as feared (thought it might yet be huge) certainly there are people being treated already for the effects of certain types of radiation.

Also, at this precise time of writing there are people sitting in offices trying to mitigate the effects of the problems in the Japanese nuclear sites that are currently going on. However, they are not trying to do it for the sake of public health and nor are they doing it for the environment.

No, their own version of damage control is one that will attempt to control the bad publicity against the nuclear power industry. They will be working hard to find a way to make things seem like they aren’t all that bad and to find a way to convincingly say that nuclear power is cheap and safe. That new generation nuclear power stations will be safer etc etc. They will not be doing this in your interests but in their own.

If nuclear power, from uraniam extraction all the way to disposal could be proved to be safe then it would of course be mad to oppose it. It can’t of course be proved to be so, and neither can any other method of electricity generation. The major point here is that when, for example, a wind turbine has a problem, the consequences are considerably less grave. The lobbyists will not be saying that of course. They will right now be working on media strategies and thinking about what politicians they can’t count on as friends so that can continue on with their business.

Finally, when this has all calmed down a bit, those engineers who are right now working at enormous personal risk to stop a disaster will be given medals and medical treatment if they need it. Those lobbyists, possibly after a short interlude, will be given big fat contracts.




How about something genuinely scary for Halloween?

People seem to regard Kraftwerk as some kind of strange musical anomaly. Their gig in Glasgow that I went to was one of the best I have ever been to.

Just listen to the message…

And remember…

Also, in the haunting bracket tonight we have…

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

—W. H. Auden, “September 1, 1939”