A Freeway in Hell

My thoughts on the nature of our late capitalist society. The title should give some clue what I think of that! US 101 or I-80 as metaphor for our imperatives. Besides worrying about what sort of black hole we are speeding into, I like airships. One reason being the almost inescapble desire to have one to get out of a traffic jam!

Name:
Location: Sonoma County, California

Grew up a military brat, Californian-in-exile, reactionary libertarian-essentially spent the 70s on Mars, for I am hearing impaired and I did not know what the music was saying. Generally still don't unless I listen to it over and over or find the words captioned on a movie or somewhere on line. Came "back" to California to begin my adult life, have not lived elsewhere since. No regrets there despite our problems here. Have studied physics, more math than most human beings will ever need, worked on spaceship projects (well, one) at JPL. Lived with a wonderful disabled person who lives no more--L Natasha Littletree RIP October 2004. I have a life plan, just kind of vague on some of the short-term stuff.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A letter to the editor of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

On May 18th the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat printed this editorial:

"New Nukes: Is it so crazy to consider reviving America's nuclear program?"

Well, yes, I think it is pretty crazy. Here is my letter, just under 200 words with all address elements in place:

Editor:

There is a key word missing from the nuclear debate: security. Unlike any other power source, fissionable metals and their waste products are suitable for making very deadly weapons of mass destruction. Radioactive materials are highly effective poisons. And if the rosy promises of the nuclear lobby are to be kept, we cannot rely on scanty supplies of uranium--we must build breeder reactors to turn low-grade fissionables like thorium into plutonium. Not only is plutonium even more poisonous than most radioactive materials, it is weapons-grade material. If we have a nuclear powered economy, we must consider not only the likelihood of accidents and the problem of waste disposal, we must also stop deliberate attempts to abuse it. A nuclear powered world will inevitably suffer nuclear weapons proliferation to both nations and wild terrorist groups, and inevitably some of these weapons will be used while others will pose a constant threat of blackmail. We would be insane to consider nuclear power as anything but a last desperate recourse, and if we use it we would need to run the industry behind fortifications.

Mark H. Foxwell
Windsor CA 95492



We'll see if they print it. It is probably just as well that I had no space to express my misgivings about any future nuclear power industry being run by private companies. We have little reason to think that all companies would keep up the highest standards of security and safety at all times. On the contrary during hard economic times, the less well off power companies might well scant on securty, alienate their workers, or even themselves conspire to commit nuclear fraud, selling materials for ready cash. I believe that if we do develop nuclear power, we should give the whole job to the Army--let them hire the researchers, engineers, and contractors, and run the plants with uniformed soldiers--fully trained to be professional plant operators, but also fully trained and with their main allegiance as soldiers. If we need nuclear power, it becomes a national priority, and at the same time the public must be protected from its risks. I would propose that the whole nuclear industry past the mining stage be moved behind the fortified walls of great isolated Army installations--processing, forming of power materials (and weapons), the plant itself, and all its wastes all to remain on one site so there is no danger of hijacking nuclear materials. A number of such fortress complexes might be hardened to survive even nuclear attack, and buttoned down so that no one but Army personnel on duty and closely watched authorized visitors enters, and nothing radiocative (except perhaps bombs made on site) ever leaves. Such plants would be inconvenient to the power grid, but we could use their power to synthesize fuels. The military ethos is I think far more suited to the task of running and guarding such a concentration of power and risk than is the security division of any private company, for career soldiers and officers are committed to a long-term perspective and are held accountable for what they do even decades after the fact.

Naturally the Bush Administration has no such plans; their idea is to pour more pork into the mouths of their corporate overlords. A mess of private companies, with plants scattered over the map and nuclear materials changing hands continually is the perfect nuclear nightmare.

4 Comments:

Blogger Mimus Pauly said...

Well, I never thought of putting the army in charge of nuclear power. It sounds reasonable enough. But I keep hearing reports of soldiers who have "committed" themselves to Jesus and making this "commitment" a higher priority than the oath they took to serve our country. What's going on in Colorado Springs is one example. Under no circumstances would I want that crowd guarding our nukes and nuclear sites -- I'm barely cynical enough to believe that they'd initiate World War III just to hasten the Second Coming.

Come to think of it, that might explain Bush's incompetence. All because he can't fill Dear Ol' Dad's shoes...

5/21/2005 9:16 AM  
Blogger Mark H. Foxwell said...

The PD is not going to print it apparently, no suprise. They have spirited controversy about a kid who was not allowed to wear his new Marine uniform to high school graduation to deal with after all!

If we get back to the kind of military we should have they are clearly more trustworthy than private interests anyway. If not, we have the same thing either way.

Sadly, even before this current era of nonsense the military was not totally trustworthy. I think I referred to the "Jack D. Ripper" scenario, in which a military officer or a clique of them (or just ordinary soldiers--sergeants in particular tend to accumulate knowledge and influence quite comparable to those of officers) go nuts, or as they see it, resolve to save the nation from a threat only they are clear-headed and bold enough to see and act on; and the "Milo Minderbinder" scenario in which someone decides they aren't getting paid enough (or fall into gambling debts, or get caught having sex with someone or otherwise get blackmailed, or need lots of money for drugs, or something) and decide to do a little under the table free enterprise with public property. Both these things have happened in the military, as well as sheer dumb accidents.

Weapons are more dangerous than the nuclear fortress complexes I have suggested because by their nature they must be deployed outside of central warehouses. This creates many chances to divert a few. We have the weapons already like it or not, and we have had the incidents though as far as I know no US nuke weapons have gone AWOL. Though we might never know that until too late. But a nuclear fortress compound would take radioactive ores in and export nothing but power in some form or other (and other products, hopefully regulated, like the weapons.)

It is significant that at this late date, five years into the aWol years, that the Academy is being turned into a dominion-seizing machine. If the military people generally supported Bush, as I imagined they would five years ago, this would not be necessary. It would of course be necessary to Christian Dominionists but if the so-called Christian seizure were not in fact the Bush agenda then there would be plenty of opposition to it in the services. Military people in my experience have a kind of Eisenhowerian view of the world--they are conservative but pragmatic and accustomed to dealing with a pruned but still vigorous diversity. There have always been fanatics about conformity among them but also people with a keen libertarian impulse. If we the people can seize dominion back, and I expect this to happen only with the help of the truly American majority of soldiers, then the damage being done now can be reversed. Some of the indoctrinated officers will be revealed as pragmatists who saw which way the wind was blowing and will shift back, others, like Heinlein's Johnny Lyle, will be disillusioned and wise up, and the rest will presumably have generally made more enemies than friends and can be driven out of the services without much regret by their fellow soldiers. Or stay on as a minority in the time-honored fashion of other (though by no means all) minorities in the military, to sink or swim on their merits which would include getting along with diverse others--not only fellow soldiers but the democratic authorities over them and the peoples overseas they have to deal with.

If on the other hand this shift is permanent or will be rectified as Hitler's was only by our conquest and destruction as a nation, then I suppose that we are screwed anyway.

5/21/2005 2:38 PM  
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11/02/2005 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Rathole may not be the end of the world but you can sure see it from here. Lawless, belligerent drivers.... opinionated, selfish and pompous people.... and the nastiest yet most over-priced eating establishments imaginable. What an arm-pit this place is.

2/07/2009 3:43 PM  

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