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The Cookiepus Conspiracy

Mindless ramblings, leading to perfect clarity.
Monday, April 28, 2003
Giving undocumented aliens drivers' licences is out of the question, because a drivers licence serves as a strong form of ID, and it makes no sense to give out strong ID based on weak ID ('undocumented' means something, no?)

That said, why not issue some sort of special driving permits. With big red text saying "this person is authorized to drive, BUT THIS DOCUMENT SHOULD NOT SERVE AS UNIVERSAL ID OF HIS NAME AND ADDRESS!"

That would solve both problems. It would give immigrants (if we have people illegally in this country, might as well allow them transporation, no?) the ability to get to work, while maintaining some level of confidence that a licence carries as an ID. For example, I don't think these driving permits would be useful for renting cars, chartering planes, or crossing borders.

Although, looking at my driver's licence... My first name is spelled wrong, the address is not even in the same state as my residence, and my weight and eye colour are wrong. So maybe drivers' licences are already not real secure.

Sunday, April 27, 2003
The problem with early nuke tests is that no one had any concept of the dangers. For one thing, people had the notion of 'tolerable dosages' — something like "if you get exposed to less than XXX units of radiation in YYY amount of time, you'll be fine" — which is not how it works. Now we know that any dose is harmful — the smaller the dose, the less likely the effects to be noticeable or immediate, of course, but there's no such thing as being able to say "If only ZZZ units fall onto the heads of people of town NNN over the next two days, they'll be fine" — but back in the 50's this was exactly the mentality.

Even aside from that, there was a greater disconnect between the military/politics and nuclear scientists. I heard arguments that if the scientists from Chicago who were against droping Nukes on Japan, had been able to explain the LONG TERM destructive nature of the weapons to Truman, he may not have dropped the bombs. As far as he knew, it was just a big explosive. He did not know that nukes were fundamentally different — but the scientists saw this as so obvious that they argued on a higher scientific level and it went over Truman's head. There is no evidence that the people in charge of the post-war tests were all that aware of the risks to the civilian population.

During experiments in the '50s, the army positioned troops REALLY close to ground zero (half as far as the scientific observers deemed safe for themselves) in order to see how they would react to a nuclear blast. The line of thinking was that the risk/damage from proximity to a high explosive was comparable to or lesser than, the risk of wound or death in combat. Again, the nature of risk from nuclear radiation was misunderstood.

Is there any wonder that the people in charge saw the damage to Kodak film production as an isolated incident, removed and separate from, the damage to human beings? Sort of like "Kodak noticed the damage, people didn't. So we must make sure to warn Kodak. The people reported no adverse effects, so why bother notifying them? They are fine."

Of course this all looks ridiculous in retrospect. Today, even a young child knows that nukes are most dangerous for their post-blast effects. But 20/20 retrospective vision doesn't really convict the people of the 1950's, in my mind. They did not know any better.

Recall the way Marie Currie died, recall tales of her associate exposing his arm to radiation, then documenting the way the burn wound healed. There was a profound lack of understanding of the effects of radiation. This is no different from the way people thought asbestos was wonderful, or the use of lead in pencils, paint, and newspaper print. We now know better, on all accounts — it is unfair to blame out predecestors for not knowing. I have no doubt that future generations will look at us and wonder how the hell we engaged in some of the idiotic pursuits of our time.

Maybe in a few decades, there will be an unequivocal link between using CRT monitors and brain damage — and our children will look back on us and wonder what idiots we were to spend out time in front of these things, damaging our health with criminal negligence. (I assume that all my readers already had their tinfoil hats on, and will not be much inconvenienced by this made-up danger. )

There is no doubt in my mind that future generations will be amazed at our ignorance for something like this. Let's not be too unfair in judging our predecessors for theirs.

The thrust of my story is that it was not universally understood at the time that Nuclear radiation was so dangerous. Nowdays, if something like this was attempted, there would be people all along the chain of command who'd cry out "Are you fucking nuts?" At the time, there may have been some scientists who warned about the dangers of nukes, but it was probably the same scientists who warned against nuking Japan, and "good thing we didn't listen to them" was probably the most natural reaction.

I am not disputing that there were elements in the Atomic bureaucracy, both in this country and elsewhere, that saw "Nuclear Development" as a goal worth any price. India's flirtation with nuclear power proved disastrous, economically — for example.

There was a ton of dishonesty and deceit at the time (and for decades into the future) that had to do with nuclear's both civilian and war uses.

The simple point I am trying to make is that whoever passed regulation to protect film but not human beings — may not have known one tenth about the dangers of radiation that you and I know today, and it is not all that fair to judge people who, half a century in the past, failed to grasp the naivete of their treatment of a new technology.
However, the world is overpopulated. We're approaching maximum person-density. Until and unless we figure out how to take care of all the people currently in the world, I fully support every decision not to bring a new life into it.

And that's dumb. The planet is over populated by uneducated people who've known nothing but poverty and shit their whole life, who haven't read a book and haven't had an education, and who won't find the cure for SARS or AIDS, or any such — who won't figure out what to do about global warming, and who won't know what to do with a telescope, and have no interest in manned space flight flight or marine biology.

As an American / Westerner , you have the opportunity to bring up a child and to educate him/her, to train them in sciences and in reasoning skills, to teach them to be inquisitive and resourceful — and maybe this planet will have some sort of future. I find it ridiculous when people that live in one of the few countries where people do NOT have a high birth rate, which happen to be the countries that have advanced the cause of humanity over the last few centuries, talk about their contributions to avoiding overpopulation.

Kindness to strangers, oh my. How do you measure such a thing. If you drop a pen on E21st Street, Corner Avenue S. in Brooklyn, or up in Riverdale, I bet people would pick it up for you and smile at you, too. If you drop it in the middle of Times square, no one will notice, and no one will pick it up at the risk of getting trampled. So there goes that test. Besides, it's just a stupid pen.

Now, what the hell does this mean? Additional experiments were conducted in the US, which studied the chances that a stamped, addressed, sealed letter would be mailed if found... Contrast that with Tokyo, where the letters were frequently hand-delivered to their addresses! I thought you just said the letter experiment only ran in the U.S.? Or is that Tokyo, Utah that you're talking about? And I think that after the Anthrax scare of 2001, most Americans have an aversion to picking up letters in random places - is it any wonder that the type of idiots that did pick 'em up are also the kind of jerks to mark the letter with obscenities?

Helping the blind cross the street has got to be a joke. NYC blind seem to be real good at getting around without help, so when a native New Yorker sees a blind man asking for assistance, he immediately knows it's a con. Whether the conman has in mind to go through your pockets, or to measure your altruism, the New Yorker does not want to find out.

Helping the injured? In NYC, there's cops and ambulances everywhere. Pedestrians know this, and may not find it necessary to render aid themselves. In Rio and other places, the situation may be different.

This whole nonsense reminds me of the final episode of Seinfeld. Throughout the series, Jerry has tried to help people here and there (Babu Bot, Bubble Boy, etc.) but then they took some arbitrary standard (the good samaritan law) and convicted him. Yes, obviously New Yorkers failed these few tests, so what? I could have told you that from the start. Why not do other tests? Sit down a ragged grad student with a cap in his hands, begging for money in the subway. Will he make more in NYC than in Rio? How about seeing how much people tip their waiters? Etc. etc. etc.

Kindness to strangers has many shapes and forms. I live in NYC and go to school/dorm in suburban, wealthy North Shore of Long Island. The people are different (the Long Islanders smile at you on the street) but I would not say that one group is more compassionate and careing than the other. It's just that in NY we've seen more shit and are onto it. We aren't impressed by people walking around dropping pens, leaving mail in public places, or posing as blind men - we've seen it before and we know it's up to no good.

But when it really comes down to it, New Yorkers have heart. And if you don't believe that, you can go fuck yourself ;-)


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