Libyan Rebel Jets Sink Qaddafi’s Warships, Saudi Arabia Invades Bahrain, and Japan Evacuated in Escalating Nuclear Crisis
And another oh so exciting day in the news. I’m getting tired of this, it’s almost scary to turn on the TV now. Well it is scary. However, I’m still here and there’s nothing really worrisome going on in Berkeley, so I will carry on and try to make sense of the rapidly changing world. No matter what happens there’s always lessons to be learnt, and in a way, since we are in uncharted waters, my thoughts and commentary are going to be as valid as anyone’s. Even the experts founder when the rate of change gets up there, so just hang on for the ride.
First, I was heartened to see reports that Libyan rebel jets had sunk some of Qaddafi’s warships. Woohoo! I bet they didn’t see that coming. I’m pretty much against all wars, but the two exceptions would be when a people take up arms against an invader … or a tyrant. What can say, the ten year old Doug comes out when I read about Libya, I want the Libyans to kick Qaddafi’s ass. I know, people are dying, but this time I’m taking sides. Meanwhile the West is still dithering about whether or not to intervene in Libya. There’s all sorts of very practical reasons why it’s a terrible idea, even if some factions in Libya are calling for it. The main reason I suspect the West isn’t going to do anything is simple. Qaddafi sold out to the West a few years back and thus was one of our colonial satraps keeping Libya stable while we extracted their resources. And if the West turns on him, it’s going to give pause to our various other satraps in the region, we don’t want them getting any independent ideas.
Which leads us to Bahrain, where Saudi troops are being sent in to, well, crush the protests. Enormous numbers of Bahrainians have been peacefully protesting for weeks, despite some violent attempts to quell the protests. For some reason the people of Bahrain have decided that being ruled by a monarch is a little, well, behind the times. Using foreign troops to crush revolts is a time honoured tactic, they tend to be a lot less squeamish about shooting into crowds of peaceful protesters than local troops. How will it all end? Who knows. There’s also major problems in Yemen and Pakistan, and ongoing and escalating problems in Palestine, Afghanistan, Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Syria, Somalia, Lebanon, Oman, and others. And of course Egypt is still evolving. Yes, gonna be an interesting summer.
Now, in Japan, “Oh shit” just about covers it. The quake and tsunami did terrible damage to their infrastructure, and huge numbers of people are living in makeshift shelters with limited power, water, and food. Compounded by people fleeing the reactor fires. And that’s where the real nightmare is raging. The problem here is simple … humans have never faced this particular problem before. By that I mean that one can’t test a reactor’s safety systems under real world conditions. So not only are they very possibly unaware of exactly what’s going on in these damaged reactors, there may be stuff happening that is completely outside our knowledge. This is a point that even very smart people stumble upon, no matter how accurate science is, reality bats last. For example a few years ago there was a fire in a London subway where smoke from a fire did something no one knew smoke could do, and as a result dozens of people were instantly incinerated. Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime. My point is that stuff could happen in this damaged reactor that no one thought was possible, because it’s never happened before.
And while we are on the topic, one of my contacts, an engineer, has been studying what videos have been released. (Remember, what governments are saying about this nuclear crisis can’t be trusted.) He thinks the containment chambers have been at least partially breached. And he also points out that they must be operating valves by hand. Which means like at Chernobyl, some of the people trying to get this reactor under control are knowingly giving their lives to save their fellow citizens. That’s gotta be pretty intense.
Oh, great, Qaddafi is threatening to ally with Al Qaeda. I stand corrected, it’s going to be an interesting and weird summer.
(The above image is public domain under US copyright law. It’s the British battleship HMS Barham exploding and sinking after being torpedoed by a German submarine in 1941. The actual motion picture can be seen here. More than 800 men died in that explosion, God rest their souls. It was the best public domain image of an exploding warship I could find.)