Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Japan, nuclear hocus pocus: Should we fear half-baked terrorists or corporate scoundrels

All along we have been worried silly about some half-baked terrorist with a dirty bomb in a suitcase when we should have been worrying about a handful of corporate culprits driven by arrogance and greed who overestimated their ability to control nuclear disaster, who figured they could get by with dissimulation and, perhaps, outright lies, and if they couldn't, knew they would be far enough away from their own nuclear reactors to escape anyway, should the situation warrant.

And, apparently, the situation warrants.

Because of our terrorist worries, I might add, we've come to the point of nearly abdicating some of the rights of privacy and law we have held dear.

When the chairman of the United States' Nuclear Regulatory Commission warns Americans in Japan to take caution -- that Japanese officials are playing down the danger -- you get some notion of the scope of the disaster and of the veracity -- the lack of veracity -- of these corporate characters.

Yes, right, what we need to fear are terrorists with dirty bombs...

I seem to be in an unhealthy place with this most recent nuclear nightmare. I need to back off from the coverage some. I can think of two reasons for this. The first is that I was an impressionable child during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I literally had nuclear nightmares for years, into my 20s and beyond.

The second reason, no doubt, is my father. My father died of emphysema. And I remember many times as his life was winding down, my father talking about that mysterious, noxious, black cloud of something that floated over the freight docks in the East Bottoms one midnight, and how he never felt the same again.

I imagine such a fate for the Japanese people tonight.


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