atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,


So, on Tuesday, Mrs. Fungus brought home delicious Chinese food. It was a marvelous feast. And after I'd put her to bed, I decided to have some of the kung pao chicken she'd bought, which--lamentably--had mushrooms in it, which she won't eat because reasons.

I sat down at my desk and ate forkfuls of delicious kung pao chicken between slaying monsters in Azeroth, and it was really, really tasty, even though it was a bit spicier than I normally like. I mean, this was so delicious it almost made me want to punch myself in the face, and the too-hot spiciness just made it better.

...when I went to bed later that night, it felt like my stomach was full of magma, and I thought, Uh oh.

Wednesday morning found me in the bathroom shortly after Mrs. Fungus left for work, and I considered the utility of repurposing fudgcicles as suppositories because of how things were going back there. But that wasn't the end of it; oh, no, that was just the beginning.

Went back to bed feeling all right, but had a headache when I got up for work; and that headache got worse as the day went on. Eventually the lava-like sensation returned--this time in my gut--and I felt nauseated and had the headache and FOR FUCK'S SAKE JUST DIE ALREADY IF IT'S THIS BAD, but somehow managed to crawl through the day; instead of doing anything that involved a screen I sat and reread the latest bits of AV (vintage April, *sigh*) until I started to feel better. Listened to a little music and looked at memes on Imgur until bedtime.

Woke up this morning feeling immensely better.

The sensation--you know how your mouth feels when you eat really spicy food? It was like that in my entire digestive tract. The "molten lava" sensation, that was my stomach and intestines experiencing the joys of hot peppers, something I had never, never felt before in my life. I've had times when spice hit me wrong (usually Popeye's chicken) but not like this.

Anyway, no more kung pao chicken for me, I guess.

* * *

Good luck with this. It's a lovely idea. Not practical until and unless you can't get methane and/or petroleum and/or coal from the ground.

Better and cheaper idea: build nuclear power plants.

* * *

Ad Block keeps me from seeing ads on YouTube. So YouTube may or may not be getting paid by advertisers, but I don't see the ads, which means that if there is ever a case where YouTube gets in trouble for billing advertisers for ads that aren't seen--

Bah. Who am I trying to kid?

* * *

Lots of people critical of Chernobyl's depiction of radioactivity because they say it was "exaggerated". Well, if so, that was a damned lame example of "exaggeration".
The most egregious of "Chernobyl" sensationalism is the depiction of radiation as contagious, like a virus. The scientist-hero played by Emily Watson physically drags away the pregnant wife of a Chernobyl firefighter dying from Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS).

"Get out! Get out of here!" Watson screams, as though every second the woman is with her husband she is poisoning her baby.

But radiation is not contagious. Once someone has removed their clothes and been washed, as the firefighters were in real life, and in "Chernobyl," the radioactivity is internalized and not contagious.
Except for one thing, this is more-or-less correct.

That one thing is neutron activation.

Things which are exposed to neutron flux become radioactive themselves. That was why someone picking up a piece of graphite moderator from the core of the thing, with only a cloth glove for protection, would likely find his hand rotting off in short order. The graphite itself would be intensely radioactive, having spent the last [however long] being bombarded with neutrons.

So, you've got a pregnant woman in a room with someone who received a fatal dose of radiation from the reactor. He is probably radioactive himself--more than usual, I mean, since we're all slightly radioactive anyway. (Carbon 14. Look it up.) And because nuclear safety protocols operate under the "no safe dose" theory, it just makes sense to keep a pregnant woman out of the same room as someone who is dying from acute radiation poisoning.

There is no quick way to explain all that, sadly.

However, the article does point out a couple of other things that the series did get wrong.

...[T]he only public health impact beyond the deaths of the first responders was 20,000 documented cases of thyroid cancer in those aged under 18 at the time of the accident.

The United Nations in 2017 concluded that only 25%, 5,000, can be attributed to Chernobyl radiation (paragraphs A-C). In earlier studies, the UN estimated there could be up to 16,000 cases attributable to Chernobyl radiation.

Since thyroid cancer has a mortality rate of just one percent, that means the expected deaths from thyroid cancers caused by Chernobyl will be 50 to 160 over an 80-year lifespan.
That is a number that sounds right to me. Radioactive iodine is (or was) the cause of those cancers, and radioiodine was the biggest emission from the accident.

Then, the "Bridge of Death" thing:
"Chernobyl" ominously depicts people gathered on a bridge watching the Chernobyl fire. At the end of the series, HBO claims, "it has been reported that none survived. It is now known as the 'Bridge of Death.'"

But the "Bridge of Death" is a sensational urban legend and there is no good evidence to support it.
That makes sense to me, primarily because I had heard stories about people going out and looking at the plant after it exploded, because it was such a colorful spectacle. (And because they lived in the Soviet Union, a place which P.J. O'Rourke claimed was trying to "bore people to death".) The "bridge of death" spectators dying to a-one, that was something I had never heard of until seeing this series. And, in fact, that was the first time I heard the phrase "bridge of death".

This is the best estimate for casualties related to the Chernobyl disaster.

Many of the criticisms in the Forbes article are valid--or would be if this were a pure documentary. I honestly don't mind the few liberties that the producers of the series took, precisely because they were so few, and they were not (at least, more than a bare few were not) outright fabrications. I am willing to grant a little bit of dramatic license when everything else was so clearly done correctly.

Now, most of the time, television shows about nuclear disasters inevitably contain a polemic against nuclear power. Someone gets up and gives a little speech, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger, about How Can We Accept This Level of Danger or what-the-fuck-ever. This happens all the time. China Syndrome was nothing but an anti-nuke polemic. What Chernobyl did was to tell an honest story about a nuclear accident and it did so without any editorializing. That alone is praiseworthy; coming from the American entertainment establishment, that is no mean feat, let me tell you.

* * *

I want to talk about China Syndrome a bit, because there's a point to its story that even its producers seemed to miss. At the end of the movie, when Jack Lemmon's character has seized control of the control room at gunpoint and is causing a big to-do, there is another problem with the reactor. Wikipedia's summary of the plot lays it out:
plant technicians deliberately cause a SCRAM so they can retake the control room, despite Spindler's warnings of Godell's concerns about safety. Godell is distracted by the alarms as a SWAT team forces its way into the control room. The television cable is cut and a panicky Godell is shot by the police. Before dying, he feels the unusual vibration again. The resulting SCRAM is only brought under control by the plant's automatic systems. True to Godell's predictions, the plant suffers significant damage as the pump malfunctions.
When I watched the movie, many years ago (I have not watched it since because it was a shit movie) even then I saw that the automatic safety systems worked in the fictional plant and there was no meltdown, no "China syndrome".

In reality, when you SCRAM a commercial light water reactor, it shuts the whole thing down instantly. You don't "bring a SCRAM under control". That's like saying you had to stand on the brakes in your car to avoid hitting something and, "The resulting panic stop is only brought under control by the power brakes." China Syndrome was a befuddled mess, and my teenaged self could see that. (Because it's a shit movie.)

But when there was a crisis, one the main character tried to prevent at gunpoint, NOTHING HAPPENED. A driveshaft breaks--that's the "significant damage"--and that's the end of it. The reactor shuts down, nothing melts, no radioactivity is released. Jack Lemmon gets shot and killed for nothing, proving nothing, demonstrating nothing, because the automatic safety systems work and the plant shuts down safely.

That movie was nothing but anti-nuclear scaremongering, and it couldn't even get that right.

* * *

Commercial light water reactors are not the only way to generate power from nuclear fission. There are other ways, other configurations, which have--as a bonus--the near-complete inability to melt down.

One of the hopeful signs I am seeing is that nuclear power is gradually becoming more acceptable. I am seeing, in general, an opening of minds to the idea--not from the hard left, who want the proles to freeze in the dark, but from people who actually want to solve problems.

Okay, when you have a former founder of Greenpeace saying that nuclear power is a good idea, I call that a positive sign, a step in the right direction, even if it is motivated by the silly notion that human carbon emissions will ruin the planet.

I've said it and said it, because it bears repeating: nuclear power is the safest form of electrical generation we have.

Much the same way that the introduction of nuclear weapons put an end to total war between nations, so nuclear power is safe, and for the same reason: because the consequences of using it badly or incorrectly are so dire.

Look: 1,500 people die per year in the extraction of fossil fuels, and we've been using them for decades. Add all the casualties from nuclear accidents together and you don't meet that number for more than a couple of years at most. Because making a mistake can we take elaborate precautions to ensure they don't happen.

The Soviets thought that the Chernobyl reactor was a safe design. In the miniseries, people said it and said it: "An RBMK reactor cannot blow up!" Turns out that if you misoperate the thing and it incorporates a feature no one knows about because it's a state secret--but even so, only one out of a couple dozen of its type ever had a problem, and to date that one disaster has killed less than three hundred people. It would take five of those accidents to make one year's worth of coal mining deaths.

Nuclear power is safe and clean, and the only reason we don't use it comes down to stupid politics.

* * *

Wildings don't just take place in Chicago, you know.
...[W]e have Baltimore, which has the highest per-capita murder rate in the nation, approaching that of Mexico, we have LA and San Francisco where you too can get typhus or maybe even typhoid fever, never mind a dozen other communicable diseases (and this is if you don't accidentally step on a used needle and wind up with AIDS or Hepatitis), you can shot in Chicago (just 50 over Memorial Day weekend, you know) and I can go on and on and on and on.
He could. These are all hard-Democrat areas, run according to Democrat principles...and it shows.

* * *

Uh, no. No. No no no no no.

We do not need to turn the Post Office into a banking service.

* * *

Skype has eliminated the need for stealing telephone service. You see, that is what technology does.

When I talk about the universal basic income being impossible, I mean right now. But in a world with highly automated production and "too cheap to meter" electricity, where labor has largely been replaced by capital? UBI becomes a lot more possible under those circumstances because the basic human needs become almost vanishingly cheap to satisfy.

It's not something we can just decide to do; it has to happen organically.

But in the United States, obesity has become an affliction of the poor. The average person living in poverty in the USA in 2019 has more computing and telecommunications power in his back pocket than was available to the richest person in 1980, and it costs him a couple dozen dollars a month. This didn't happen because the government set out to make it happen; it happened because technology improved and there was competition between companies to sell goods and services to people.

When government decides to make something happen, the opposite occurs. Australia's National Health Service is exactly that: a government promising plenty and falling very, very far short of that goal.

* * *

There is SO much snark on-line about Apple's new craptastic $999 monitor stand and at that link, Pixy Misa shows us a company taking advantage of it.

I laughed out loud at, "It's just a stand". Well, that's all it is! Yet the monitor next to it, for $300 more, will actually display video in 5k resolution. Oh, and it includes a stand.

"I'm a Mac, and this is a PC." Burn.

* * *

Linus is making rather a good point. That idiot who threw away his football career so he could virtue-signal joined a religion which literally enslaves black people right now. He doesn't seem to broke up about that.

* * *

Do me a charleston and go congratulate Wonderduck. The news about the Midway movie is good, but the other news is even better: he's going to get paid to be a historical consultant for a series about the Battle of Midway!

* * *

Yesterday we had to run the AC. Today it's cooler outside.

At the end of the season last year we tossed the pool, for some reasons:

1) it was sun-faded and chlorine-bleached.
2) I could not get the grass and dirt off of it.
3) we wanted a bigger pool.

1) was only an aesthetic problem, but 2) was because we hadn't had a cover for it, ever, and I plopped it right down on the grass. I'm putting down a tarp for the new one, which takes care of 3).

The new one is fifteen feet wide rather than ten, and is about five inches deeper. Still an "easy set" type where you inflate the top and then fill it. I'm going to level the ground this coming weekend, and then we'll be setting it up on a tarp and getting it filled.

The weather, however, has not been conducive. I've run the AC two days this year so far, and mostly that was to handle humidity more than heat. The weather in May was consistently cool and rainy, with only a few days above 70, and so far June has been mostly 70s during the day and upper 50s at night.

I'm worried that I'm going to set this thing up and get it all nifty and have maybe three days this year where we can use it. The past few summers have not been hot ones; and the hottest days in 2017 (the first year we had the pool) were primarily before we got the pool.

The neighbor set their pool up last year after ours went up; and then took it down again before we did ours. They had something I want to emulate: a solar heater. Essentially it was a plexiglas dome over a coil of tubing; the pump connected to it, pushed the water through the tube, and into the pool. I'm thinking we should get one of those, and a cover for the pool. We'll see.

We want to get fencing for the back yard; once that goes in I'll stop worrying so much and we'll probably get a larger pool than this. But that's later.

The weather pattern for the Fungal Vale has changed, becoming cooler and wetter. I don't know if that's because of the wind farm to the south, the extended solar minimum, or some combination. All I know is that the summers around here just do not seem as hot as they once did. that I can have a pool.

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