(It's a bird! It's a plane! It's STUPIDMAN!)
There is only one thing that I truly, deep down hate, and that is STUPIDITY. Most of the ills of society are basically just different forms of the same problem, that being stupidity. Gawd, do I hate stupidity. So here's my page for ranting about it.
And the things that they they fear, are a weapon to be used against them... Rush
If you are one of those anti-Cassini Luddites who really thinks that all nuclear power and radiation sources are bad and promote warmongering and must be stopped at all costs, then why don't you back up your beliefs?? Start by throwing out all of the following radiation-producing items that are found in great abundance:
...and that's just for starters. But, plutonium on a space probe (the "deadliest substance known to man"... I thought dioxin held that title... oh yeah, that was last week) is different, you say?? Yes, it's a bit different. But why?? Can you explain just why?? Other than the fact you're far more likely to encounter all of the above than a single speck of plutonium??
Plutonium, like anything else, can indeed be quite deadly, if its dust is inhaled. But so is talcum powder. Whether you will actually ever be exposed to plutonium dust is the question here. The above items all cause more deaths and injury each year than plutonium ever has or will, yet you probably gladly use most of them every day. But throw in the word "plutonium", and you have massive, ignorant, blind panic. Even if Cassini blew up at high altitudes and the wind was blowing onshore (supposedly this would be the worst-case scenario), the only real danger is from hydrazine fuel fumes or falling debris, NOT from radioactivity. This is based on collected, proven, tested, scientific fact, NOT the anti-nuke lobby's ignorant and fearful guesswork. I think that it sure is funny that out of all these protesting folks who are up in arms about Cassini (like the "Grandmothers for Peace"?? Oh, COME ON!!), the extent of their education on radioactive materials and nuclear energy seems to come entirely from such sources as Greenpeace (the undisputed kings of counterproductive antienvironmentalism), Internet chat rooms and newsgroups (now there's a reliable source for you), other equally misguided protesters, and I'm sure that all the years of watching silly Cold-War anti-nuke propaganda films hasn't hurt their cause either. But when have you heard them say good things about the possibilities of nuclear energy?? Ever?? Failing to make a case for responsible use of something in appropriate situations is often the cowardly hallmark of an organization that doesn't really have it's facts right, thus having to fall back on the spread of emotional misinformation to sway people. Greenpeace, "The Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice" (what's that supposed to mean?), and their allies certainly seem to be doing that much quite well. They talk about "weaponizing and nuclearizing" space. Weaponizing any place is obviously bad. But what is nuclearizing??? They've turned a word to describe a whole wide range of processes or things, and made it into a dirty word. It's absolute idiocy!! It reminds one the presidential candidate (whose name I can't recall) who defeated his opponent by repeatedly calling him a "practicing thespian" in front of large crowds of shocked onlookers.
Now personally, I certainly don't trust the U.S. government very much (no farther than I can throw it) but I can't believe that so many people have been sucked into blindly fearing everything nuclear, especially if it's associated with "buzzwords" like Uranium, isotopes (guess what... you are made of 100% pure isotopes, many of which are radioactive!!), and of course Plutonium (and for the benefit of the Grannies for Peace, it's PU-238, not PLU-238 as I saw on your signs on the news). Get a grip, people, and a basic high-school or college level physics course wouldn't hurt either!!!
Space is for us to explore - responsibly. Plutonium in the form used for space-probe RTGs is a perfectly responsible use of nuclear power. You think that grounding Cassini would have any effect on military use of RTGs? Well, where do you think they got developed?? Right now, there are dozens, probably hundreds, of similar generators used in such environmentally sensitive areas as Alaska to run things like nuclear-test monitoring seismic stations. Eskimos sometimes shoot at the things for fun, and there have been no accidents! I am certainly environmentally concerned - I get angry just seeing people throw cigarette butts into the street - and yet, I am all for this launch and others like it because I have bothered to research the facts from many independent sources, and have decided that it is not only safe but vital to the human race to gather knowledge. Cassini is part of this quest or we (the good folks at NASA) shouldn't (and I hope wouldn't) have spent all this time, money, and effort on it.
Folks, do some research!! Don't get it from the anti-nuclear organizations, or from the Internet. That is a virtual guarantee of biased misinformation from a bunch of bozos. Go read up on stuff from "the other side". Read books about the theory, effects, and politics of nuclear weapons and fallout, and you'll see that this thing isn't a bomb, nor is it a thinly-disguised military project as some people think. Read about the nuclear power industry, and see how the materials aren't the real problem, money-grubbing politics is!! I recommend a book probably available in your local library called The Nuclear Almanac ... it's an excellent nuclear energy primer by a bunch of MIT profs that is definitely not a pro-nuke book, just a fair examination of nuclear energy in all its forms. LEARN, people! QUESTION Greenpeace's version of the "truth"!!! THINK for yourself and learn an important subject you really don't know about!! DON'T BE AFRAID that you might find your pre-existing beliefs on this issue to be called into question, or God forbid even changed by the facts. Then, and only then, will you be qualified or justified to protest (on either side).
P.S. - I live in the so-called "fallout" zone 30 miles south if that makes any difference to you, and I hope to see the launch from Cape Canaveral. And if it blows, I for one am not going to panic for a minute. What if it exploded because of a protester doing something stupid to try to prevent the launch?? That certainly could happen... and it would serve them right, if you ask me!! :-)
A case of being distinctly UNstupid.
As I sit here watching the pre-game show of the Fiesta Bowl, while the Florida Gators get ready to once again remind the world that they are supreme masters of the Universe, I am reminded of something very interesting I once noticed. Once while I was a student at Georgia Tech, I was on a road trip visiting a friend at UF at the time the Gators were in the quarter finals in the NCAA basketball tournament. Midday Sunday, from my friend's apartment four blocks from the football stadium, we heard a tremendous uproar from outside, as if the entire city of Gainesville had simultaneously discovered they had the winning lottery ticket... the Gators were going to the Final Four! We went down the street to the Purple Porpoise, a popular sports bar on University Avenue in front of the stadium, and I saw something that I found amazing. There were thousands of jubilant, partying, and mostly drunken students jamming the streets, celebrating en mass. After about 15 or 20 minutes, something amazing happened. The campus police showed up, and very politely told the large (and intoxicated) crowd, "Please move off the roadway, we need to let traffic get through!" No meanness, no threats, no show of force. Just a polite, "Come on, guys" sort of request. And you know what? Everyone there did it. Just sort of backed up, never missing a note of the fight song, not booing the cops, as if they collectively said "OK, they're being nice to us so let's be nice to them." While traffic moved slowly through, and most of the cars were filled with partiers high-fiving the group on the sidewalk, for the most part the cops just stood by, even doing a little cheering of their own, and the crowd didn't try to get out of hand. I found this amazing since during the two years the Braves did well while I was at Tech, things were crazy. In 1991, in the dramatic worst-to-first season, on the night they won the spot in the 1991 World Series, we tore down the goalposts in the stadium and built a teepee with them on the corner, then burned so many items (many of which were dorm furniture) underneath it that it melted the traffic light right off the wire. Oh yeah, I should mention the incredible, chanting, tomahawking mass of 1000+ students running crazily in circles around the inferno for over an hour. The GT police knew better than to even try to intervene, and let the party run its course for three hours plus. The second year they won was much the same, except the police were already there to protect the goalposts. The Atlanta Fire Department, instead of turning tail in fear, actually showed up tomahawking on top of the fire truck - only squirting enough water on the fire (and students) to keep the traffic signal from melting again.
Another marked difference between Notlanta (the Cesspool of the South) and Gainesville is visible at concerts. In Atlanta, all concerts are populated by rude, non-fan yuppies who pretty much can ruin the concert for anybody. When Pink Floyd played at GT, I had a large drunk redneck guy in front of me in a very large cowboy hat who was blocking my view (and many others near me) whose answer to a very polite suggestion that he remove it when the band got onstage was along the lines of "F*** you, I paid for this seat so I can wear my f***ing hat if I want to!" Unfortunately, this is how almost ALL concerts in "sophisticated" Atlanta are. At Yes, I was rudely told to sit down (after the band told the fans to stand up). Meanwhile, however, I was in Gainesville and at the last minute we were able to get tickets for the Rolling Stones concert. The Spin Doctors were opening, and while it was quite obvious that very few of the crowd there even liked them, after every single song the vast majority of people applauded very politely, and really made the band feel appreciated despite the fact that they weren't the main attraction. I don't know whether that applies to all Gainesville concerts, but after seeing how the students of UF treated the cops, I'm inclined to think so. Yet another good reason I have for wishing I had gone to UF rather than that hellhole called Georgia Tech.