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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

But Not to Worry


ATOMIC POWER TIME 09/17/1956 p. 120

America's Independent Light & Power Companies advertisement for atomic power: Time, 17 September 1956 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)

Still images from video footage 14 March 14 2011 showing explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex: on Monday a hydrogen explosion rocked the crippled nuclear power plant, where authorities have been scrambling to avert a meltdown following Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami
: photos by NTV via Reuters TV/Reuters


America's Independent Investor-Owned Light and Power Companies advertisement for nuclear power: Newsweek, 12 October 1956 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)

A technician in protective gear looks out an automatic door with signs reading "No entry except for those with permission" at a makeshift facility to screen, cleanse and isolate people with high radiation levels in Nihonmatsu, northern Japan, 14 March 2011: photo by Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

Vicks Vaporub advertisement: Family Circle, 1 February 1958 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)

People queue to be screened by a technician in protective gear for signs of possible radiation in Nihonmatsu, northern Japan, 14 March 2011: photo by Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)


Association of American Railroads advertisement for atoms-for-peace program: Time, 15 September 1958 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)

Technicians scan Red Cross rescue workers for signs of radiation in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture in northern Japan, 14 March 2011: photo by Reuters/Kyodo
NUCLEAR RESEARCH TIME 09/17/1956 p. 59

Atomics International advertisement for nuclear research: Time, 17 September 1956 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)

A helicopter flies over Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 nuclear reactor, 12 March 2011. An explosion blew the roof off the the unstable reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday, Japanese media said, raising fears of a meltdown at a nuclear plant damaged in the massive earthquake that hit Japan: photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters


R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company advertisement for Prince Albert Pipe Tobacco: Life, 28 April 1941 (via Gallery of Graphic Design)


Julia said...

Fantastic, Tom.
No words needed.
Perhaps just one: creepy.

Catanea said...

Thank-you, Tom. This is just what I needed somebody to say.

Anonymous said...

Dr Marlin Remley looks kind of shifty. Can I really trust him?

Thanks, Tom.

Ed Baker said...

used to keep my marbles in a red Prince Albert tin

sometime in the late 50's
I lost my marbles

(actually I still have one of those tins & some of the marbles) (& my Mumbly Peg knife)

TC said...


I have that creepy feeling, too, about all this, and it's getting creepier by the hour.

As an American youth in the early Cold War years, one experienced the curious disconnection between the "bad" kind of atomic power which you were taught to crouch under your school desk in hiding from, and the "good" kind which wise, humane engineering was about to deploy at large to improve life on earth for everyone (while of course making a profit for somebody, that was understood).

It was in the years just after that that the reactors were being developed and sold to power companies round the world.


Thank you for your good words and strong voice.


In the event you ever need a ready-to-run reactor for your goatshed, you could probably get Marlin to come out and assess your set-up... Just cable "Atomics".

(It might do to to have a back-up estimate, though. As you say, there is something oddly untrustworthy about the look of him -- his having done -- or should one say gone? -- fission on State Street, one supposes him, like a character in a noir film with a dark scientific past, to be capable of trying to sneak in almost any sort of price-tipping isotope-soaked add-ons...)

TC said...


Well, after we lose our marbles it all goes up in the Joy of Smoke.

TC said...

(BTW, someone here comments that Aunt Eve, with her demented electric teapot, looks "beyond Evil".)

Julia said...

Absoluteley, someone is always right! That's why I choose this image in particular to publish your post at fbook.

The contradictions and make-believe polarities seems to me the paradigmatic image of Cold-War era...
And maybe we aren't so different now.


thanks Tom. no words.

The falling tree branch or the tsunami or the meltdown, it could happen to any of us at any time. Though with the meltdown it's like hanging onto or dancing under the cracking tree branch

TC said...


And from what I understand, those now clinging to the cracking tree branch are being advised by authorities to Shelter Indoors.


No, this brilliant species probably hasn't changed much since it first tumbled down from the trees and landed on its feet... wondering.

Such odd memories linger from that semi-hallucinated era of Atomic Tests, siren and alarm drills, etc.

When I was in secondary school the rumour spread that an alien craft had landed in the night in a northern suburb of Chicago, and left behind a mysterious building housing a nuclear reactor.

With some equally curious and slightly trepidated friends I proceeded to the rumoured location, where, lo and behold, there was indeed a large strange structure which no one could remember having been there before.

Seeing that Happy Valley reactor in the top image here reminds me that it was not merely provincial ignorance but an uncanny resemblance that caused us to make this mistake regarding the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette (built in 1953).



No, not to worry with AIL&PC showing us the way, along with AAR, Aunty Eve, Marlin Remley and Prince Albert -- with friends like these who needs enemies? And yet, and yet, those Red Cross workers are standing there, being scanned for "signs of radiation". . . .


grey whiteness of cloud against shadowed
green of ridge, sparrow on redwood fence
in foreground, waves sounding in channel

since which variant of first,
this that put further

second system, distant, such
that observer at rest

grey white clouds to the left of point,
cormorant flapping across toward ridge

TC said...


We thought of you and Johnny, it must be confessed, the father and tow-headed son, in that insidious first picture -- the advertising agency manipulation of innocence, marketing the atoms as though they were corn futures.

Anonymous said...

No, I'd never buy a used atomic reactor from Dr Remley, and Aunt Eve looks like she's pouring me a nice warm cup of heavy water.

Juragua Ex-Nuclear Power Plant in Cuba looks like it might be a nice place to live. I would paint stars on the ceiling, and the goats could graze outside on the roof.


TC said...

The fellow who took the picture of the abandoned Juragua nuclear plant said in his original caption he'd had no idea the place existed, no one had mentioned it to him, it wasn't on any maps -- but then one day, when he was out cycling on a back road, there it was...

Ed Baker said...

not to worry...

the Japanese Minister of Truth just announces (there is no IMMEDIATE danger to people"

meanwhile the way the wind is blowing all of the folks living on the west coast of the USA
will turn green in 25-30 hence.... so,
not a problem here, either.

besides, we have built up our immune systems
to radiation.... via over-use of
cell phones
drinking our tap/well/spring water
using plastic for everything
cooking in aluminum pans
we self-medicate with beer,wine, sugar,salt,pork-rinds, pesticides...


we've already turned green....we just call it by different colors..


North Korea wants "to talk about their Uranium Enrichment Program" (with Iran, China, Pakistan, and India)...
of course... most nuke facilities EVERYWHERE
built/designed/sold by General Electric

can hardly wait until the next wave of Gargantuan Eats Mothra & The Blob!

TC said...

Speaking of things that might make one turn green around the gills if pondered too long, here in what remains of California the present/imminent Japanese nuclear catastrophe has actually -- are you sitting down? -- been cited by at least one outspoken proponent of nuclear power in support of the "case" for building new infern... er, plants.

This from today's SF Chronicle:

"Nuclear advocates hope any public fears raised by the crisis in Japan prove short-lived, both in the United States as a whole and California in particular.

"'You can't run the grid that we have now and make the per capita carbon dioxide reductions you want without nuclear power,' said former California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

"While in Sacramento DeVore tried repeatedly, without success, to overturn the state's ban on new nuclear plants. He sees the events in Japan as proof that reactors - even in situations close to a worst-case scenario - pose less of a threat than opponents claim.

"'Here we have the largest earthquake in history to strike Japan, with perhaps 10,000 killed by the earthquake and tsunami, and there have been no deaths due to nuclear power,' DeVore said."

Ed Baker said...

let me know when y'all on the "left coast" need Iodine pills...
they'll turn the green color to a tawny color

my x's sister, in SF just asked for "all the potasium-iodine pills you can buy... can't find them here"

I suggested that she move to Mexico and eat bananas
.... and smoke the little strings

and turn of the fucking tv/news!

TC said...

Ed, A lot depends on which way the wind is blowing, when determining whether something's funny.

(Reminds me of the vultures who found the dead clown in the desert -- in the lower image here -- "tastes funny!".)

In any case, don't count on there being any bananas, anywhere, any more, what with the creeping (and creepy) spread of the
bunchy top virus.

Ed Baker said...

I solved MY banana bunchy top virus problem...
I skip Taiwanese bananas and drink the DDT straight


now, instead of getting my protein from aphids, I eat deer ticks and tse-tse flies
I usually cook 'em up either in an aluminum pot or nuke 'em in the GE Microwave
on weekends we have 'em barbecued and have 20-30 poets stop by

for disert we eat sugar-coated poems



'you are what you eat'
& suffer the consequences at 'pay back time'

TC said...

... and what's even more awful to consider is the fact that the destructive virus-spreading aphids may not get a chance to do their terrible work; for it will have been already done for them, by a fungus that is destroying the world's bananas even as we speak.

An irradiated world, with no bananas in it -- or worse still, with only the "new" genome-sequenced banana (which "science is racing to produce, but it will take twenty years") -- would it be a world worth living in?

Ed Baker said...

in twenty years I'll be 90!

then I'll be able to look back on all of this and.... laugh
so hard that I'll pee in my pants.

I was thinking of dropping out again but am now terribly afraid that if I do (this time) when I drop back in
I'll be dead

and will miss all of the new poetry/art that is being done...

I wonder..... hmmmmmm...

did those aphids infect our now poetry with that
Banana Bunchy Top Virus
this just might be a New School of Poetry in-the-making....

or is it in-the- deconstructing of ?

we need some Intelligent Folks in this seriesofus discussion...
maybe an Avant Impressionist
or a DADA Destructionist?

(pee est TC, doe people REALLY read this 'stuff' on you blog? I mean,
ain't I letter-writing mano-a-mano?

could we have a show of hands out there...

who eats bananas and who eats poi ?

TC said...

Ed, I hate to break it to you, but you should probably assume that at some point or other there are going to be more people reading these words than you and me.

In fact, people from all around the earth do peer silently into this portal, for whatever reason.

What this is NOT is an American poetry scene social networking site.

'Twas never intended to be such, will never be that... and the great sigh you hear is one of relief.

Ed Baker said...

AHHHH MEN! (& women, too)



TC said...

So I went in and watched a bit of the NHK feed -- it's really hard to watch. A small group of soldiers was sorting through rubble for bodies, while some civilians looked on. A silent and mournful scene. A soldier discovered a body. He beckoned to an older woman standing nearby. Both prayed momentarily over the body.

E said...


Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste cre- ated by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storage, which is vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and to societal changes. In Finland the world’s first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock – a huge system of underground tunnels - that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous.

Radiation predictions according to weather folks:

TC said...

Thanks, E.

Here, for others to check out, is the enabled direct link to the trailer for

Into Eternity: The Movie.

"A hiding place that must last 50,000 years" is not an encouraging thought, since at present it does not appear possible to create a sanctuary that would protect the human species from the "fallout" of its own hubris, greed and myopia for five minutes.

But the futures traders have probably got all this covered, even now, deep in the devil's bunkers of their "souls".

TC said...


The West Coast is Not at Risk may be a bit of a misleading headline for that piece on the NOAA trajectories for the radioactive plume.

What the weather blogger appears to be really saying in the piece is, Whew, we in Seattle are relieved to know that a strong Pacific jet stream is carrying the plume on a straight line across the northern Pacific, directed not at the Northwest US Coast, but directly through the Golden Gate.

The same sort of relief is being expressed in Vladivostok.

Aristotle speculated that the supreme human pleasure may be that of standing high and dry on the shore while watching a shipwrecked stranger drown in the waves.

This is a typically short-sighted human view, cynical, but, alas, realistic.

(It would not be a tremendous surprise to see all the sanguine millennial "one world" propaganda quickly dissolve, as the world collapses, into the old, tried-and-true pragmatics of "I've got mine...")

Anonymous said...

Not to worry...just remember to 'duck and cover'.

The phrase 'brilliant morons' springs to mind: on the one hand, the ingenuity, curiosity and imagination that it took to 'harness' nuclear power; on the other hand, the imbecility of developing a power source that produces fantastically lethal by-products that have a shelf-life of thousands of years.

I'm pretty sure I remember reading about various types or radiation-emitting devices being used as casually as sunlamps, back in the days of the technology's infancy: acne? Have a radiation bath. Eczema? Some gamma rays'll clear that up but pronto. Halitosis? Suck on this lump of uranium.

And how about the Japanese geniuses who thought that building 100s of nuclear reactors in one of the world's most tectonically unstable areas was a good idea?

Worryingly for us here in the UK, France runs almost exclusively on nuclear power.

One major accident and on a clear day, you can glow forever...

TC said...


Absolutely on point.

"The phrase 'brilliant morons' springs to mind: on the one hand, the ingenuity, curiosity and imagination that it took to 'harness' nuclear power; on the other hand, the imbecility of developing a power source that produces fantastically lethal by-products that have a shelf-life of thousands of years.

"I'm pretty sure I remember reading about various types or radiation-emitting devices being used as casually as sunlamps, back in the days of the technology's infancy: acne? Have a radiation bath. Eczema? Some gamma rays'll clear that up but pronto. Halitosis? Suck on this lump of uranium."

Those days all too well remembered here. With inward wince.

Routine "advanced" medical insanity of the period included subjecting the victims of a diagnosis of metabolic irregularity to having face encased in rubber mask while radioactive isotopes were administered to the thyroid. All I can say for this bit of acute torture, which I did actually endure, was that it was at least better than trying to imagine Annette Funicello's private life. (Though many years later I did read somewhere that the procedure involved an intake of radioactivity equivalent to swallowing ten Crispy Creme Bikini atolls, or something.)

(As for the fate of Madame Curie, she was generally assumed to have been a Saint of some magnitude, her radium poisoning thus comparable with stigmata, torments of the stake & c.)

And about d.&c. -- the past week of one's inner life has indeed been spent ducking and covering from sepia-toned flashbacks to the Golden Years of the American Century, when in our little parochial school secret lives of terror duck and cover drills were the common order of the day.

"And how about the Japanese geniuses who thought that building 100s of nuclear reactors in one of the world's most tectonically unstable areas was a good idea?"

I've been thinking about this, too.

Currently, as the IAEA has noted with a nearly audible silent shudder, every "method" and "technique" being tried, all the water-flooding and water-dumping and steam-inducing, & c., is being made up on the fly, none of it has been tried before, nobody knows what's happening, and the Dark Unknown is proving to be a less than pleasant place.

And yes, here too, we are in it.



I confess I thought it myself, when I saw that "insidious first picture," Johnny and I walking down a road toward that domed monster. . . . Let the children inherit what earth? ? ? ?

Ed Baker said...

here is most accurate media reporting "out there":


notice that the US Nuclear Reg folks are now there to "measure" things...

this nhk news is now live on WETA here...

measuring things? what the hell do the nubers mean?

do we really need nuclear power plants to ... well, boil water?

Nuclear Power Generation is not cost effective now, much less when costs escalate do to the coming "safety" requrements...

might as well go back to "clean coal.... and get tuberculosis and black-lung disease....

an iron lung in every home....