March 18, 2011

Japan: "Where Are the Robots?"

My friendly landlord caught me coming in from work tonight at 2 a.m. and enlisted me to help him slide a 300-lb. slab of bluestone down an innovative ramp into the cellar, and after we'd both risked our lives doing it and had stood it against a wall, Gary asked:

"Mike, with Japan's supposed advanced lead in robotic development, where are the damned robots?"

Of course! A light went off in my head. Robots! Robot fire trucks, robot helicopters, robot wheeled vehicles with cameras to go in and take a look at this melting pile of radioactive human garbage which is now threatening to poison and cook us all.

"They've probably been so busy working on building Terminators for the military that they never imagined robots that could go in and prevent a meltdown," I replied.

They probably could make a robot which would be powered by the escaping radiation. Nuclear-Meltdown Terminators (NMTs). The higher the radiation, the stronger they become. Anti-Godzillas.

Godzilla always was a puzzle to me. I guess I missed some of them. As I remember it, Godzilla was created by radiation mutation after WW II. He was the ugliest monster imaginable, all lumpy and misshapen, with a head that didn't look like it belonged to the body; a fierce mouth breathing fire like the dragons of yore...and now look. Look at the visible radioactive monster created by greedy humans with a lust for power and gold. They created this monster, this Frankenstein, and set it loose despite every reasonable protest and argument. They've birthed these little Godzillas all over the planet, to fuel "development" through "Atoms for Peace," which has expanded us into a species of consumers, and which has spawned a million millionaires, and all it took was a 30-foot tsunami to open the cage to let a few of the monsters out. People are, just like in the movies, fleeing for their lives.

The twin reactors at Indian Point on the Hudson River ("O majestic river!") are only 35 miles from New York City, where population is most-concentrated in the United States. An earthquake, any geologist will tell you, can happen anywhere on earth. No place on the planet is immune from earthquakes. Indian Point sits directly on a "fault," and it's application for a license renewal is under legal challenge because the plant has for years been in violation of the Clean Water Act...Will they re-issue it after a few vague promises of reform? Or won't they? Stay tuned. (You don't think they are going to shut down a moneymaker like that, do you?)

Do we have any such robots? If not, isn't it time we started designing and building some?

And here is the other thing that puzzles both Gary and myself. When Chernobyl melted down, it was reported that hundreds of Russians and other volunteers went in to put out the fire, and then to entomb the whole joint in concrete, knowing full well that all were doomed to die. The "News" recently reported that Japan's emergency teams "could not get near" the reactors, because it was "too dangerous." It is reported also that they are willing to let the whole shebang melt down to the groundwater, rather than go in there.

What happened to that so-called Code of the Samurai in Japan? The hero who would sacrifice his life for the people? You mean to tell me that Japan can't find a thousand or so of its citizens who will volunteer to die in order to save the rest?

Jesus Christ, they commit hari-kiri over exposure of shameful business practices! To save their "honor."

What happened to "Banzai!" the shout of the brave Japanese soldier running into battle and almost certain doom? Was this another lie, another movie myth?

After all, there would be compensation for the families, and a promise to be shot through the heart when the sickness becomes too painful to bear.

What about us? Do we have any of that sort of people in America, heroes who are willing to give their lives in order to save the rest of us? Is anybody except me and Gary thinking about these things? We know one of these sons-of-bitches is going to melt down sooner or later. The questions are only where? when? and what are we prepared to do about it when it does?

I confess that I'm not one of them. If Indian Point starts melting down, I'm getting the hell out of here.

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