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Time is not on my side, no it's not, no it's not...

My Eurovision reviews are still to be written. I have all the parts recorded but no time to watch. I must be the only person on the planet (with an interest in ESC) who doesn't know who won. The prediction I will make is the UK won't win. We'll languish, yet again, at the bottom of the score board. It just remains to be seen if there are other songs worse... but worse in a bad way, for those worse in a good way will get merit points. Shame, I thought we all woke up and realised the potential last year, but I guess not...

Why has this come about? Simple - my work hours are now 9pm to 4.30am. I dunno about you, but I distinctly recall saying I would not work nights, and here I am... working nights. So I come home, check my mail, and then slowly go to bed. Maybe 6am-ish I'm dozing off. To wake at any time between noon and 2pm. I've had words with mom, but she's very variable and seems to think that it is okay to crash around, open the shutters and such when she gets up. Thanks. Then I get up and participate in life, a large part of which seems to be wasting time until 8pm when I start to get ready for work.

So when can I watch The Mentalist? The end of FlashForward? The end of Ashes to Ashes? ESC?
Exactly. I've aleady a pile of outstanding things from before (when I finished at 2.30am) and it's only going to grow.

I will do my traditional Eurovision reviews. Probably without any pictures - at least in the near term. I'm just not sure when I will do this...


Glowing in the dark

Here's something of a bleak story for you. One girl and her very large bike and her best friend the Geiger counter, on a trip around a region that used to thrive with life, and is now desolate.

Nuclear reactors provide a much cheaper and cleaner source of energy than other methods ... ironically the biggest current radioactive pollution is from coal-fired power plants; those without ash capture are spewing radioactivity into the air in doses that have more or less equalled the levels of pollution from the nuclear testing in the fifties. Those with ash capture... well, a lot of that ash is 'disposed of' by mixing it into concrete. Sure, it's only coal ash, right? Well, a Geiger counter is a scary thing to have in your possession. To walk around a pleasant forest, tick, tick, tick. To walk to an old stone building tick-tick, tick-tick. To walk to an old granite building, tick-tick-tick, tick-tick-tick. To walk to a modern concrete and glass edifice to lame-looking design, a dozen crappy functional-yet-fugly shopping centres. If you thought pointing the counter at the striplights and the array of televisual devices was bad, try the walls.
French power costs quite a lot less than electricity in the UK. This is because nuclear is more widespread and cheaper. It does bring with it problems, such as where to dispose of spent fuel rods. But then, waste disposal is a problem of anything in everyday life. Nuke waste is just a little touchier than all our Pepsi cans and Twix wrappers.

The problem, and this is why it is critically important to never ever skimp on costs in anything related to nuclear reactors, is when it goes wrong, it can go seriously wrong.
We all know a test went wrong. It went badly wrong, the reactor blew its lid, spewed out radioactivity into the atmosphere, killed a bunch of people... In good old Soviet style, the problem only came to light when radiation sensors at a Swedish power plant started recording situation levels. By then, a large number of firemen had already been sent to their deaths, a number of citizens of Prypiat gathered on a bridge to look at the eerie blue glow, unaware that this was ionised air around the core of the nuclear reactor. In the time it takes for that to be seen, you've most likely already recieved a fatal dose of radiation. The town was, eventually, evacuated. For a short time, the people were told, so they only took essentials. It might be safe to return there in, oh, 300-400 years or so.
Think back. We're talking the days of rapant religion, William Shakespeare, Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, settlers from France founded Québec, King James (a Stuart) sat on the throne (after Mary Queen of Scots). This was just after Tudor times. America was known as a place in the west. The Jamestown Settlement had just been established in what we know call Virginia, but the Mayflower had yet to set sail.
That was 400 years ago.
In 400 years, people might be able to return to the lands around the failed nuclear reactor. Assuming, of course, the hastily-built "sarcophagus" shell does not collapse (as it is increasingly in danger of doing) and cause a nuclear incident all over again.

It is a desolate land. You start to get an idea of the scale of the destruction by the invisible radiation when you look on Google map and see a vast tract of land with no names and no indicated roads. Go look.
It becomes all the creepier when you zoom in on the town of Prypiat and see it is a town of Soviet era high rises... now crumbling. Old roads, no sign of human life, but plenty of trees. Go look.
For what it is worth, the nuclear reactor is on the east of town. Go look.

If nothing else, this should serve as a suggestion of what can happen when the unthinkable happens. It may be serious design faults coupled with an unsafe test that caused Chernobyl to blow itself up, but in the scale of nuclear explosions, Chernobyl was minor (it was the smoke that caused the most damage). It could have been worse. Think what effect such an event would have if Bradwell made London a no-go zone, if Berkeley with a westerly dumped contamination across the Home Counties. Here's a map of European reactors.

It is slightly worrying to see Japan, an earthquake prone country, has a large number of nuclear reactors. But hey, what can go wrong with a logo like this?

Now you've read all of this, here's biker girl's link again. The pictures are small, the layout even more basic than mine, but it is more than made up for with buckets and buckets of creepiness...


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Rob, 28th June 2010, 08:21
On the subject of Chernobyl ... It's only this month, almost a quarter of a century later, that the last of our sheep are judged to be safe again!! l

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