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Monday 14 March 2011

The Genie in the Bottle


uragua Nuclear Power Plant, near Cienfuegos, Cuba (designed to be built with Soviet technology in the early 1990s but scrapped due to the collapse of the USSR): photo by David Grant, 2006

File:Chernobyl Disaster.jpg

Chernobyl nuclear reactor, showing damage in immediate aftermath of the disaster: very extensive damage to main reactor hall (image center) and Turbine building (lower left): USSR government photo, 2006

File:The dangerous view - Pripyat - Chernobyl.jpg

Chernobyl: The Dangerous View (after the explosion at Reactor 4 the people of Pripyat flocked to the railway bridge just outside the city to get a good view of the reactor and see what had happened; initially, everyone was told that radiation levels were minimal and that they were safe; however, much of the radiation proved to have been blown onto this bridge in a huge spike, and the levels were very nearly lethal): photo by Ben Fairless, 2008

The Zone (Zone 24), Chernobyl, 24 years after: photo by Lukasz1911. 2010

View of Chernobyl from roof of a building in Pripyat, Ukraine: photo by Jason Minshull, 2007

Sinister building in radioactive contaminated zone of Chernobyl: photo by Olpixel, 2005

Dead zone (abandoned house in the inner closed zone around Chernobyl nuclear power plant): photo by Elena Filatova, 1986


Anonymous said...

It's funny how "so far, so good" never takes you far enough. Our family knows all about the genie and the bottle; Caroline worked in a once vital industry (recorded music) that was actually wrecked by one particular genie. People's fecklessness about important things astonishes me always. There is a song I like called "Feeling This Way" -- a sad, angry, deeply felt number -- that begins: "There's not a lot to say/When you're feeling this way/But you don't listen anyway/You've got your own problems." To me, that sums up the kind of inattention that leads people to all sorts of unfortunate ends, including nuclear reactor mishaps. I mean, why would you conceivably build facilities like this in a area with a fairly high probability of earthquake activity?

TC said...


The snow-white ingenuousness and naïveté of humans when it comes to technological "innovations" of any sort increasingly looks to be a strong indication of an intelligence failure in the species.

The last thing that will ever be learned is that it's possible for a being of flawed intelligence to come up with inventions that ought to be transferred immediately to the dumpster.

But of course, with humans, there's always somebody who is going discover an advantage or a profit to be gained by siphoning off just a smidgeon or two of the devil's handiwork before putting it by.

But of course, the devil is a swell fellow loves his handiwork, will defend it to the (your, my) death... and probably lives right next door.

Anonymous said...

It's absolutely correct for you to include the profit motive element here. I left it out deliberately, trying (sort of) to universalize the description, but it felt incomplete and incorrect without including it. A few years ago, ahead of the U.S.-led financial meltdown, we met a young-ish, nice-seeming, fairly unprepossessing couple who lived near us in Tuxedo. The wife, also a lawyer, told us that her husband made his living dreaming up and structuring new "derivative" financial instruments for a large institution and was (the husband, that is) a hot commodity in this sector. This not being our area of interest or expertise, I didn't think too much about it. Now, whenever I run into him, I feel quite uneasy. There didn't seem to be any more "there" there from the beginning and in his beginning was many people's end. The funny thing, of course, is the way profiteers and charlatans pop up at all points along all spectra and are able to adapt and modify their spiel to the purpose at hand. People tend not to become mega-wealthy by accident and I always assume that achieving maximum wealth is their main goal, however sincere-sounding and superficially appealing the devil has allowed them to make their package to the sucker at hand. I guess it's the old Pretty Boy Floyd maxim, i.e., some will rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen.

E said...

Remarkable that no taller vegetation has grown in the field (The Zone (Zone 24), Chernobyl, 24 years after: photo by Lukasz1911. 2010) in 24 years.

So much talk when it comes to these questions about "people", "them", "others", "profiteers" instead of "we", "our", or even "I".

As long as we value inexpensive items and look for "more bang for our buck" we will always be suckers for "cheap". And how much (time, effort, money) are we pay to forfeit cheap?

TC said...


"And how much (time, effort, money) are we pay to forfeit cheap?"

One of the many large unanswered questions to hang in the air.

Another might be:

Is there any real rational basis in the present expectation of unlimited "power" to be expended (that is, wasted) on lighting up and moving through its memorized mechanized paces a "civilized" world (read: small defensive group of interlocking yet mutually antagonistic capitalist societies) that has at its heart a core of darkness so deep all the illumination of the cosmos could never each it?

About the survival of vegetation and animals in the "Forbidden Zone": it appears they're till there, soaking up the rads. Nobody's offering Nature a better shelter.

For a moving update on the present state of "natural" life, in all its forever-threatened wild innocence, in that precarious habitat, see:

Nature Theatre in the Zone of Alienation