Horror In Honshu

The appalling devastation from the earthquake off the Japanese coast, and the resulting tsunami, is difficult to comprehend.  You look at before and after pictures, you see photographs of rescure workers crawling through enormous masses of wreckage, you read about the horror of hundreds of bodies washing ashore, and the mind just does not compute the scale of the disaster.  Boats tossed atop houses; cars massed together like toys kicked by an angry child, and entire areas wiped clean of buildings and people.  The effect is staggering.

It is interesting to me that, in the west, the focus seems to be more on the nuclear power plants rather than on the devastation to the people and the countryside.  I suppose that is because there is a certain fascination about nuclear power and its potential destructive force.  Yet the destructive force of the earthquake and tsunami has already been delivered, and it has killed thousands and ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands.  In view of that actual disaster, why should there be such interest in the potential disaster of a nuclear meltdown?

The nuclear power industry in America must be suicidal.  We had just about gotten to the point where people were ready to talk seriously about building nuclear power plants again — indeed, where nuclear power was even considered a form of “green energy.”  That time has now passed.  Now, no one is going to want to have a nuclear power plant in their backyard — even if it takes an earthquake and a tsumani to trigger a possible core meltdown scenario.  The news from Japan is just too raw, and too horrifying.


No Whining Permitted (2011 Edition)

If your team makes the NCAA Tournament, you should be happy, right?  Yes, but . . . .  Fans of every team that is in The Big Dance are either complaining about how their team is seeded, or complaining about their regional being the toughest, or both.  Some members of Buckeye Nation are whining — again — that the Buckeyes’ regional has the toughest field of teams.

Enough already!  As I said before last year’s tournament, no whining permitted!

Fortunately, the Buckeyes themselves have the right attitude.  They welcome the challenge and know that they need to prevail over great teams if they hope to win the NCAA Tournament championship.  If you want to be the best, you need to beat the best.  Ohio State fans could learn a thing or two from the players.

The Greenbrier Bunker

Yesterday Kish and I took the “Bunker Tour” at The Greenbrier.  It was a fascinating 90 minutes.

One of the blast doors to The Bunker

For those not familiar with the story, during the Cold War America decided to build an extensive fallout shelter for the legislative branch of government for use in the event that bombers from the Soviet Union dropped nuclear bombs on Washington, D.C.  The concept was that after the Soviet bombers took off, members of Congress (and one trusted aide each) could be transported to the secure facility before the bombs fell and then would be safe to conduct the legislative business of the country for 60 days. The Bunker came on-line in 1962 — just in time for the Cuban Missile Crisis — and continued to operate as The Bunker until its existence was exposed in 1992.

The Greenbrier was selected as the site because it was close enough to Washington, D.C. to allow for evacuation and the facility could be constructed in secret under the cover story that The Greenbrier was building a new wing — which is what happened.  In fact, some of the parts of the Bunker — including the office space and the chambers where the Houses of Congress would meet — were hidden in plain sight and were routinely used by the public as an exhibit hall and a theatre.  Those areas could have been secured by a huge nuclear blast door that was kept hidden behind garish wallpaper.

The rest of the bunker, which is now used as a highly secure data storage area by Fortune 500 companies, featured bunk bed dormitories, offices, kitchens, a radiation shower, redundant power and water systems, an incinerator, a medical facility, communications areas, and storage areas where food and medicine sufficient to keep more than 1000 people fed and healthy for 60 days was kept.

Although the idea of The Bunker presupposed a horrific nuclear bomb exchange, there was something naively optimistic about the whole concept.  The notion that our legislators would faithfully keep debating and legislating for 60 days, living cheerfully in military fatigues, eating C-rations, and sleeping communally in bunk beds while the nuclear winds raged outside is hard to understand now.   Did they really think that, when they emerged, our country could continue as even a semblance of its former self — and that, if it could, the Members of Congress who led us to nuclear holocaust should be the ones to then lead the American survivors of the nuclear conflagration?