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The Chernobyl Meltdown and the State of Fear

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Over the last few years several nuclear power plant disasters have been averted, but people are nervous, so safety tests are conducted to assure the public, and to assure the people who maintain the plants. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located about 65 miles northeast of Kiev. It provides 10% of Ukraine's electrical power. Although few people realize it, reactor #1 went through a partial melt down 4 years ago, so safety drills are a must. A power loss safety check is scheduled for April 26th. The actual safeties are turned off because with any real power loss the automatic safeties would kick in. This test is mostly for the personnel because this type of nuclear reactor is unstable at low power levels. If the checklists for the power-down are not followed exactly, everything goes BOOM! Someone misses a checkbox and reactor #4 goes into meltdown. Two men are killed immediately. Reactor #4's shift leader remains at his post. He is a dead man anyway. He attempts to restart the feedwater to the reactor, and fails. The subsequent graphite fire is now pushing radioactive material up and over northern Ukraine and into Belarus. Millions of lives are in danger. The Soviet Union calls for "liquidators", people who can kill the fire and encase reactor #4 in concrete. In exchange they will receive better food, better medical care and such. 600,000 sign up. At least 6,000 will risk their lives including firefighters, police, military personnel and coal miners who will build a foundation under the reactor to prevent seepage of radioactive material into the groundwater. These people are heroes. 29 will die in the coming months. The supervisor of this safety operation will die 9 years later of a heart attack. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, 50 employees at the Fukushima nuclear power plant remained at their posts following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The author, Michael Crichton, wrote about the Chernobyl disaster in the appendix to his novel "State of Fear". He had initially considered terrorists attacking nuclear power plants rather than an environmental theme, but no matter how many ways he ran the scenarios he could not create a world wide disaster even if every single one of them blew up. Of course, if you are standing next to one its a complete disaster, but for the overall world population, no. I mean, sure, lives will be shortened. Cancer rates will increase, but the number of people in immediate danger is actually quite small. Today I think we are past most of the hysteria concerning nuclear power. It is dangerous, but many things are, yet we balance usefulness vs the danger and make a decision. We can do that with nuclear power as well. [6] [7]

Gorbachev introduces Perestroika and Glasnost

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

During the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev, who was the new General Secretary, introduces the ideas of perestroika and glasnost. Perestroika, which means "restructuring", was meant to allow more independent actions from the various ministries in Soviet government, as well as allowing the market to have some say in what was to be produced and to negotiate costs, though the government still retained control over the means of production. Glasnost, which means "openness", was meant to allow for Soviet citizens to openly discuss problems with the current system and for them to find and offer up their own solutions to them. It also encouraged scrutiny and criticism of communist leaders. It also saw a reduction in the amount of pre-publication and pre-broadcast censorship of the media, however, it did not eliminate them in their entirety, not remove central control of information by the government.[8][9][10]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
This policy could be seen as an attempt at a soft landing from the collapsing Communist system. In the end, it was too little to late, as 5 years later the USSR has a hard crash from Communism, devastating many people and countries. I have heard that many of the policies in China could be interpreted as a slow, soft landing from communism, including it's increase in the creation of companies that are producing goods for the international market. Beijing's 2011-2015 "5-year plan" called for bolder steps towards innovation and reform. Let's hope for the world economy that China is successful in a soft landing, otherwise the global economic repercussions will be huge.[11]

Notable Births

  • -- In TV...: Jamie Bell (Turn: : Washington's Spies), Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (Full House). [12] [13] [14] [15]
  • -- In Movies...: Megan Fox (Transformers), Lindsay Lohan (Parent Trap), and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). [14] [16]
  • -- In Sports...: Michael Phelps (Multi-Olympic Gold Medalist) and Alison Carroll (a gymnast, but more importantly, the model for Lara Croft). [17]

This Year in Film

  • Top Gun: Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. [18]
  • Crocodile Dundee: Australian Paul Hogan teaches a New York writer about adventure in the Outback. (Funny. I liked it.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Platoon: Vietnam war movie. (I worked on the video game of the movie.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Save the whales! (I liked this one despite the obvious preaching.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Ben Stein becomes famous with his line, "Bueller? Bueller?". [18]

This Year in TV

  • The Oprah Winfrey Show: Tabloid talk show. (The fact that Oprah is black indicates a strong change in viewer attitudes.--alexshrugged) [19]
  • ALF: Alien Life Form. A comedy featuring edible cats. [19]
  • L.A. Law: It will strongly influence on how the public views the legal system. [19]
  • Fox becomes the 4th network: (Their edgy programming sometime fails, but their successes are stellar.--alexshrugged) [19]

This Year in Music

  • That's What Friends Are For: Dionne Warwick. "In good times and bad times / I'll be on your side forever more" [20]
  • Papa Don't Preach (I'm in trouble deep): Madonna. [20]
  • Walk Like an Egyptian: The Bangles. (The lyrics make no sense, but its fun.--alexshrugged) [20]

This Year in Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda: An action adventure game named after Zelda Fitzgerald, the first flapper. [21]
  • Dragon Quest becomes the first role-playing video game: It allows the player to take a well-defined role within the world of the video game. [21]
  • Starflight: You mine different planets. The story behind the game is revealed later. (I LOVED this game.--alexshrugged). [21]

In Other News

  • The Firearm Owners Protection Act bans new machine guns: The fact that not a single one of the already licensed machine guns has ever been used in a crime seems to have escaped the notice of the Congress. [22]
  • Eric Thomas develops LISTSERV, the first email list management software: (I was an early moderator of such a list.--alexshrugged). [23] [22]
  • The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds into launch: School teacher Christa McAuliffe was on board. (My son was watching.--alexshrugged). [22]
  • Pixar Animation Studios opens: It is a spinoff of Lucasfilm. [24]
  • Halley's Comet arrives: Japan sends a probe. No one turns into a zombie. [22]
  • Captain Midnight interrupts the HBO satellite feed: Electrical engineer John MacDougall jams the signal to protest HBO's high prices. He is fined $5,000. (I was associated, briefly, with the original Captain Midnight, lo those many years ago. His dinner companion, Alexandra, tried to save my life, I think. Good for her.--alexshrugged) [22]
  • The first 3D printer is sold: . [25] [22]
  • The Soviets launch the Mir space station: It will become a testing ground for living in space. [22]
  • The US approves a treaty outlawing genocide: Yeah. That will fix it. [22]
  • US Senate debates are now televised: . [22]
  • Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty for spying for Israel: He was released recently. [22]
  • Aeroméxico Flight 498 collides with a Piper PA-28 over Cerritos, California: It devastates a bedroom community in Cerritos. (I used to work in the area.--alxshrugged) [22]
  • Chief Justice Rose Bird and two others are removed by voters from the Supreme Court of California: (Oh thank Heavens!--alexshrugged) [22]
  • John McCain becomes a US Senator: Apparently for life. [22]
  • Iran–Contra affair: Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, start shredding documents: (As I recall, when the shredder jammed, Miss Hall snuck out some of those documents under her clothing. This caused a sensation because some said she put then in her underwear.--alexshrugged) [22]
  • Pope John Paul II officially visits the Great Synagogue of Rome: It's a 1st for a modern Pope. [22]
  • Geraldo Rivera opens Al Capone's secret vault: It is a media sensation, but they find only a bottle of moonshine. [22]
  • Cargo ship Khian Sea leaves port with 14,000 tons of toxic waste: It will wander around for 16 months looking for a place to dump it. Oh. Yeah. Haiti. [22]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1986, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Chernobyl disaster - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “It is one of only two nuclear energy accidents classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.”
  2. Chernobyl liquidators - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “This exact phrase is engraved on the Soviet medals and badges awarded to the Liquidators.”
  3. Deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “A senior reactor operator, at the controls in the control room at the time of the explosion; received fatal dose during attempts to restart feedwater flow into the reactor.”
  4. RBMK - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “The RBMK (Russian: Реактор Большой Мощности Канальный Reaktor Bolshoy Moshchnosti Kanalnyy, 'High Power Channel-type Reactor') is a class of graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor designed and built by the Soviet Union.”
  5. Effects of the Chernobyl disaster - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “203 people were hospitalized immediately, of whom 31 died (28 of them died from acute radiation exposure). Most of these were fire and rescue workers trying to bring the disaster under control, who were not fully aware of how dangerous the radiation exposure (from the smoke) was (for a discussion of the more important isotopes in fallout see fission products). 135,000 people were evacuated from the area, including 50,000 from the nearby town of Pripyat, Ukraine. Health officials have predicted that over the next 70 years there will be a 28% increase in cancer rates in much of the population which was exposed to the 5–12 EBq (depending on source) of radioactive contamination released from the reactor.”
  6. Crichton, Michael. States of Fear: Science or Politics? with Michael Crichton. The Independent Institute. Nov 15, 2005. Run time: 01:55:42. Crichton speech begins: 00:08:00 into the video and ends at 00:59:45. Panel speeches after that. Question and Answer session begins at 01:35:40. (VIDEO) Description: Michael Crichton gives speech for The Independent Institute about his reasons for writing his novel, The State of Fear.
  7. Crichton, Michael. State of Fear, State of Fear, Avon. ISBN 9780061015731. 
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27th_Congress_of_the_Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perestroika
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasnost
  11. https://www.csis.org/programs/freeman-chair-china-studies/past-freeman-chair-projects/china%E2%80%99s-innovation-and
  12. Jamie Bell - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 13 April 2017. “Andrew James Matfin 'Jamie' Bell (born 14 March 1986) is an English actor and dancer who rose to prominence for his debut role in Billy Elliot (2000) for which he won the BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He is also known for his roles in the films King Kong (2005), Jumper (2008), The Adventures of Tintin (2011), and Snowpiercer (2013), as well as starring as Abraham Woodhull in the TV series, Turn: Washington's Spies (2014). He portrayed the Thing in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.”
  13. Turn: Washington's Spies - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 13 April 2017. “Turn: Washington's Spies (formerly known as Turn and stylized as TURN: Washington's Spies and TUR?: Washington's Spies) is a period drama based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring (2007),[3] a history of the Culper Ring.[4] The series debuted on AMC on April 6, 2014.”
  14. 14.0 14.1 1986 Births - Wikipedia.
  15. {{cite web | url = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/–_[[Jamie_Bell | title = – [[Jamie Bell - Wikipedia }}
  16. Megan Fox - Wikipedia.
  17. Alison Carroll - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 13 April 2017. “Alison Laura Carroll (born 21 May 1985[1]) is an English gymnast, model, and actress. She was the Lara Croft model from 2008 to 2010.”
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 1986 in film - Wikipedia (1986). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 1986 in television - Wikipedia (1986).
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 1986 in music - Wikipedia (1986). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 1986 in music - Wikipedia (1986).
  22. 22.00 22.01 22.02 22.03 22.04 22.05 22.06 22.07 22.08 22.09 22.10 22.11 22.12 22.13 22.14 22.15 22.16 1986 - Wikipedia.
  23. 1986. Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
  24. Pixar - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 April 2017. “The Graphics Group, which was one-third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm, was launched in 1979 with the hiring of Edwin Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT),[12] where he was in charge of the Computer Graphics Lab.”
  25. Future Tech: How 3D Printing Will Change the World. Alternet.

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