The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Remain Calm! All Is Well!’

Posted on | March 14, 2011 | 27 Comments

The famous cinematic words of Chip Diller kept replaying in my mind Sunday night after I got an e-mail from a friend telling me that we’d all breathe a sigh of relief when, on Monday or Tuesday, we were told that the Japanese had the whole problem under control. It wasn’t clear whether my friend sent that e-mail before or after the news broke that there had been another hydrogen explosion at another reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Maybe, for all we know, this second explosion was the storm before the calm. Maybe the worst is now behind us (or actually, behind the Japanese, since those reactors aren’t in our backyard). Meanwhile, the brave citizen journalism must go on.

After having been Japan! Japan! Japan! all day Saturday, I gave it a rest Sunday, and was surprised when bloggers began choosing up sides over this story. Seems that coverage of the disaster-stricken Japanese reactors has become a political football: Conservatives are supposed to be completely sanguine about the meltdowns — or “possible partial meltdowns,” whatever — because liberals are in “environmental catastrophe” hysteria mode.

So, unless we want to join Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne for the next “No Nukes” nostalgia concert, we must pretend that the situation in Fukushima praefecture is both hunky and dory.


Let’s ditch this false dilemma, shall we? Let’s try to get our minds around two ideas at once. It is possible that both of the following statements are true:

A. Nuclear power is a very important part of meeting America’s future energy needs;


B. The situation with these earthquake-damaged Japanese reactors is a total clusterfark.

Both ideas can occupy one brain — mine, to cite one obvious example — without any irreconcilable contradiction. In fact, despite the nuclear clusterfark in Japan, it may be that there will be no really dangerous radiation emissions, and that the precautionary evacuation of several thousand people living near the plants was unnecessary. Furthermore, lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear clusterfark may help U.S. authorities find innovative ways to prevent future such crises.

And when I say “innovative ways,” I’m thinking of the coolant potential of aging left-wing folk rockers.

That’s why I’ve sent a letter to the the Atomic Energy Commission, suggesting that we send Neil Young to Japan, with instructions to dump him onto one of those troubled Fukushima reactors.

I mean, what the hell, it’s worth a try, right?

If that works (and I’m willing to apply a very flexible definition of “works” here) then we send David Crosby to Japan, and try it again on another reactor. Then we keep going down the list of all these hippy-dippy singers and guitar-strummers who are always having benefit concerts for “causes.” Ship ’em over and  — plop! plop! plop! — right onto those overheating reactor cores.

Just to emphasize that this is a global project, we could ask the Brits to send Bono and Bob Geldof.

“Folkies for Fukushima,” we’ll call it. Or maybe “Rockers for Reactors.”

But why stop there? Why limit this emergency effort to over-the-hill musicians who haven’t had a hit record in 20 or 30 years?

Let Hollywood do their part, too: Janeane Garofalo, Bill Maher, Sean Penn, Margaret Cho, Michael Moore — I bet lots of stars would be happy to “make a difference” by volunteering as human coolant for those Japanese reactors.

What’s important, really, is to be innovative in our approach to this disaster. Science is about exerimentation, after all, and as with human embryonic stem cells, we don’t yet know what wonderous things can be accomplished by the use of progressive entertainers as nuclear-reactor coolant. But we need to know, and this Japanese situation is the perfect opportunity to find out.

Never let a crisis go to waste, I say!


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