New Year -- New Resources

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Garrison Keillor goes for Gold

Keillor's Op Ed piece in today's NYT is brilliant satire, especially the part about conservatives being like people who drive a car into a swamp and then start throwing mud balls at the tow truck.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stupid is as Stupid does

If America's the "best country in the world" why are so many Americans so angry that they think it's "understandable" to fly a plane into a building to protest taxes?

Why do Tea Baggers think that if a family can't afford to pay 20% of their income for private health insurance, they should just go bankrupt if someone gets cancer, but if you don't pay your taxes so you can own a Cessna you have a right to feel homicidal?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Isaac Newton's detective work

I have just caught up with the new book from Tom Levenson NEWTON AND THE COUNTERFEITER (Houghton/Harcourt). The premise alone is very intriguing, and I love Tom's approach to history.

I worked with Tom, who runs the MIT Masters Program in science writing, when he published EINSTEIN IN BERLIN, and he is one of the very best history of science writers around. He also has a background as a NOVA producer.

I'm experimenting with listening on audio and reading the Kindle version on my laptop (you can do that with the free KindleforPC software on Amazon). More to come on how that works for me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New book on Hiroshima and Nagsaki

Recommended reading:

Charles Pellegrinos' The Last Train from Hiroshima

reveiwed by Joseph Kanon, in The Washington Post 2-6-2010

Having worked on both scholarly and fictional books about the history of the Atom Bomb, I have always thought the moral tragedy was not in having dropped the Bomb to avoid an invasion, but in the way Americans did nothing to provide any information about radiation to the Japanese either between Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The accounts of those on the ground about casualties who survived the explosion are far sadder than the death totals. We already knew the full danger of radiation because many of the scientists who had worked on the Bomb had already died from exposure.

Whether or not US could have forced surrender with minimal loss of life in any way than dropping this terrible new weapon on Hiroshima (and there is a lot of evidence that they could not have done so), our refusal to help the Japanese understand -- and be able to treat -- the "collateral" damage of this new weapon increased the human suffering without saving lives of combatants.

It would decades before Norman Cousins orchestrated aid for those still suffering from injuries and dying from cancer without the benefit of medical research treatments which were readily available but didn't share with the world. Not only the Japanese suffered, since many Americans were deceived about the health dangers of their exposure during the period of above-ground testing.

This new book out by Charles Pellegrino focuses on what happened to the people at ground zero gets a wonderful review in the Washington Post today. The reviewer, Joseph Kanon, has also written a very powerful novel about Los Alamos. Pellegrino pulls no punches about the suicidal intransigence of the Japanese military and government; but it doesn't let Americans off the hook for refusing to acknowledge the extend that the Bomb was not just another weapon, but the dawn of a new age in which, ever since, civilian radiation casualties from Hiroshima to Chernobyl have been mistreated and ignored.