Sep. 3rd, 2009

starlady: (remember remember)
Reed, Thomas C. and Danny B. Stillman. The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation. Minneapolis: Zenith Press, 2009.

Despite several serious problems, this book is a necessary read for anyone interested in issues of nuclear security, non-proliferation, and in international relations in general. The authors, both of whom have worked in the U.S. nuclear/national security establishment for decades, provide a refreshingly blunt and clear description of the history of nuclear weapons from the Manhattan Project to the nuclear follies of the last few years vis-a-vis North Korea and Iran. Among other notable revelations, they detail exactly who got Iran started on the path to nuclear energy, and possibly nuclear weapons (thanks, Benazir!), and they refreshingly take as fact Israel's de facto status as a nuclear power. I often find the sort of insider's name- and anecdote-dropping style to be more than grating (I'm looking at you, Charles DeLint and Charles Pellegrino), but Reed and Stillman aren't afraid to tell stories out of their personal experience to illustrate and to back up their claims, which are very convincing indeed.

This has been a terrible tragedy, Mr. Ambassador. )

On a related note, check out this 3D reconstruction of the Urakami district of Nagasaki, the cathedral of which (the largest Christian church in Asia at the time) was the hypocenter of the Nagasaki atomic bombing (all that remained of the congregation were a few charred rosary beads; note that the link cites one of the lower casualty estimates) by current undergraduates at Choudai--Nagasaki University, I mean. You know what, that's another thing--the United States remains the only country to have deployed nuclear weapons in combat. Reed and Stillman would do well to acknowledge that, if only for that reason, countries wary of acquiescing to the current nuclear regime, which is spearheaded by the United States, have a legitimate concern.
starlady: Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. (kill some cats)
So I dragged my friend M to see District 9 tonight. I found it thought-provoking to say the least, and I think that if sff movies generally were as interesting as this one, the genre would be in a much happier place, although there were (of course) some things I found problematic. As most people probably are peripherally aware, the film follows Multi-National United middle manager Wikus van der Moehrve as he heads out to District 9, the slum in Johannesburg in which 1.8 million aliens have been living since their ship stalled out over the city 20 years earlier, to hand out eviction notices. As you might expect, things don't go exactly as planned.

If they were from another country, I could understand... )

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