Comments: The Worst Joke I Ever Heard

Its a round planet and what goes around comes around. Remember Hiroshima? WE're fixing to get a dose of Karma, again, and this one's going to be hot from the oven.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 14, 2011 10:32 PM

Its a round planet and what goes around comes around. Remember Hiroshima? WE're fixing to get a dose of Karma, again, and this one's going to be hot from the oven.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 14, 2011 10:32 PM

Huh. Interesting that I'd find out about such a major turning point in your life from a blurgh run by the crazy guy who lived down the hall from you in college. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday, and be prepared to expound on this and the Bettis story.

Posted by Aaron's Younger Brother at March 14, 2011 11:15 PM

The Atomic Bomb Casuality Commission, an American agency and thus part of the occupation, studied victims after Japan surrendered, so the idea that knowledge about the health effects of radiation could be obtained from "the residents of Hiroshima" was an immediate concern to the US government. Some scientists involved viewed their research as morally redeeming the bomb, since it was providing knowledge of biological and medical relevance. (There's more on all this in Susan Lindee's book Suffering Made Real.) All of which is just to say that this professor's nasty joke is one instance of a conception of the bomb as a tool of knowledge production. Which I think is exactly your point about professionalization and seeing the world through a career.

Posted by Peter Sachs Collopy at March 15, 2011 01:00 AM

Looks like events are bearing you out. I look forward to your next post. And remember: Governments lie.

Posted by drip at March 15, 2011 08:01 AM

After the first of the nuclear plant explosions in Japan, it was stated that radiation levels had gone down afterwards. To quote a Bob Dylan song,

"I offered her my hand.
She took me by the arm.
I knew that very instant
That she meant to do me harm."


Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at March 15, 2011 09:29 AM

Being that I live in Japan, and have many people I love throughout the northern half of Japan (especially Tokyo), and being that I've been having a great deal of trouble figuring out online just how far harmful amounts of radiation are likely to spread, and how severe the consequences are likely to be if so...

I'm very interested in what you have to say.

Posted by Quin at March 15, 2011 09:31 AM
Therefore, in case you are not naturally inclined to skepticism, you should be very, very skeptical of reports from Japan that only small amounts of radiation have been released and that everything is going to be just fine.

See this eye-opening interview yesterday with a veteran of the nuclear industry and expert witness in the Three Mile Island accident investigation:

http://tinyurl.com/67vhf7p

I have limited familiarity with nuclear engineering, but my impression is that the facade of calm among the 'experts' is beginning to crumble. If I played the stocks, I'd be investing in manufacturers of pharmaceutical potassium iodide.

Posted by SunMesa at March 15, 2011 01:49 PM

SunMesa - Yes. That is the article I'm planning on posting this evening. Alas.

Posted by Aaron Datesman at March 15, 2011 03:48 PM

Aaron, I will look forward to your more technical post, which makes me wonder if you are familiar with Robert B. Laughlin (Nobel laureate in Physics, 1998) who wrote a book in 2008 called, The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind, which was precisely about “technical” information, or more precisely what is “legally technical” and what is not.

When the tenured professor you listened to suggested that we don’t know much about the health effects of radiation because “’the residents of Hiroshima forgot to wear their dosimeters’ one day in August, 1945” it really is chilling.

The only thing certain I can think of for us to do, is that if we have no nuclear power plants we can have no nuclear power plant accidents or nuclear waste to get rid of - so the sooner we get rid of them all the sooner the world will become a slightly safer place.

Posted by Grandpa Ken at March 15, 2011 04:04 PM

Re: the Sinclair quote, a decade ago I was invited to speak at a conference in Huntsville, Alabama and when I got there found the event was at the Von Braun Center, Huntsville being a place where rockets are big. When I was leaving I thanked the guy who'd invited me and made a joke about my surprise that the old Nazi had a conference center named after him (although I phrased it much less confrontationally). He still didn't think it was funny.

Posted by darrelplant at March 15, 2011 05:11 PM

ARTIST: Tom Lehrer
TITLE: Wernher Von Braun
Lyrics and Chords


Gather round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun
A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience
Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown
"Ha, Nazi schmazi," says Wernher von Braun

/ G7 - C - / G7 C G7 C / G7 - C A7 / Dm C G7 C /

Don't say that he's hypocritical
Say rather that he's apolitical
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun

/ B7 - Em - / / G7 - C A7 / Dm C G7 C /

Some have harsh words for this man of renown
But some think our attitude should be one of gratitude
Like the widows and cripples in old London town
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun

You too may be a big hero
Once you've learned to count backwards to zero
"In German oder English I know how to count down
Und I'm learning Chinese," says Wernher von Braun

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at March 15, 2011 07:45 PM

"Always I shoot for the stars. Its just that sometimes I land in London." W. von Braun.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 15, 2011 08:13 PM

Granpa Ken said up thread -
Aaron, I will look forward to your more technical post, which makes me wonder if you are familiar with Robert B. Laughlin (Nobel laureate in Physics, 1998) who wrote a book in 2008 called, The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind, which was precisely about “technical” information, or more precisely what is “legally technical” and what is not.

I think the book is worth checking out. I find it so disturbing that we have been put into this conundrum of having nulear energy providing us with power, and thenw e get told by the "experts" that since we cannot live without this energy., then we had better continue to build and rely on the nuclear plants to provide our energy.

I think I'd rather return to candle light than die of radiation.

And all of it is not necessary - That Genius Tesla knew something, and he was able to concieve of "free energy." The experts knew he was on to something - so they made sure his laboratory burned to the ground right after he died.

Posted by Carol Dagg at March 15, 2011 08:45 PM

Carol Dagg: Tesla was suggesting using the natural electrical energy of rhe atmosphere. When he was alive, the earth had a natural frequency of about 8Hz which has changed to 12+/- Hz at this time. He planed a whole infrastructure based on inductance at 8Hz. Sadly he met a man named Westinghouse who basically stole his ideas concerning his patents of what WE NOW call "The Grid". And so WE ended up with "The Grid", strictly a MONEY deal and nothing to do with living better electrically. Tesla ended up with his rent paid at the Waldorf Astoria where he died and not much else.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 15, 2011 10:29 PM

So the guy was joking, and the joke was in poor taste? OK, maybe you shouldn't joke about such things--but in the face of horrific genocide, a little black humor may perhaps be forgiven...

Posted by eric at March 20, 2011 09:56 AM