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Friday, August 19, 2011

"Wars, Films & Top Billing?"

Ah, Nagasaki.

Dateline August 9th, 1945. BBC report [1]:

Atom bomb hits Nagasaki. American forces have dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki - the second such attack on Japan in three days. The bomb was dropped by parachute from an American B29 Bomber at 1102 local time. It exploded about 1,625 ft (500m) above the ground and is believed to have completely destroyed the city, which is situated on the western side of the Japanese island of Kyushu.

Such a dry, matter-of-fact report combining war and geography, missing only weather, which, except for a single cloud mushrooming over the city, was CAVU, the U. S. Army Air Forces acronym for clear and visibility unlimited.

Report continues:

In a statement issued from Guam, General Carl A Spaatz, Commander of the US Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, said, “The second use of the atomic bomb occurred at noon, August 9, at Nagasaki. Crew members report good results. No further details will be available until the mission returns.”

The bomb was named Fat Man, referring either to Winston Churchill, a character in England, or to Kasper Gutman, a character in The Maltese Falcon.

Ah, Hiroshima.

Although the Man was fatter by about five kilotons, Hiroshima always gets top billing, perhaps because, though slighter in stature, the Boy had more “good results” than the Man, the former tallying 90,000 to 166,000, with the latter trailing far behind, tallying a mere 60,000 to 80,000 [2].

Also, the first city with good weather seemed to have more press; indeed, the New Yorker devoted the full August 31, 1945, issue to the event, the text of which became John Hersey’s book Hiroshima [3].
Ah, Kyoto.

Good results for them, but bad results for the Air Force, because Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, had honeymooned there, had fond memories of the city, and successfully persuaded the Target Committee to remove Kyoto from the list.

Apparently no member of that Committee, including Robert Oppenheimer, had fond memories of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

So it goes.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

"I learn nothing when I am speaking."

As with speaking, I learn very little when I am typing, so I'll keep this short and share an article written by another author.

On this date in 1945, Little Boy was dropped over Hiroshima from a B-29, and the airplane was named Enola Gay by her son.

About a mile from ground zero lived Sadako Sasaki. Little Boy fell near the little girl when she was two.

When she was twelve she was diagnosed with leukemia, and the condition was named atom bomb disease by her mother.

In August of 1955, Sadako's best friend Chizuko came to the hospital with paper for folding origami cranes.

This picture also appears in the Common Dreams article by Mark Harris.

Read, learn, and have a thoughtful day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My English Teacher cautioned, "Never begin a paragraph with 'Well.'"


I'm delighted that you are stopping by, and we are now visiting.

By creating this blog, I am able to connect with you, provide further information about The Project, and share with you progress reports as we travel down the time road together.

Long ago, in the second year of the dark decade known as the Eighties, I left the service as a conscientious objector, founded a non-profit organization called Peace Engineering, and then in 1983 went on a meaningful journey, which I titled "peace odyssey". 

During that odyssey, as I traveled around the country visiting cities and smaller towns, I carried a measuring wheel, a marker board, and a circular plastic computer that would, when I spun the inner wheels to settings of distance and kilo- or megatonnage, display the various effects of that particular nuclear weapon's detonation, such as heat, radioactivity, wind, and overpressure.

The computer was held in a paper slot pasted in the back of the book The Effects of Nuclear Weapons by Glasstone and Dolan. I had heard of the book and the computer, but had no copy when I embarked on my journey. However, in one of my first chosen cities, as I began measuring Peachtree Boulevard, I wheeled right up to a government bookstore, parked the wheel, hurried inside, and found the book on the shelf.

Serendipity sub-atomic, I suppose.

Armed, so to speak, with the computer, I usually wheeled a distance of one or two kilometers out from the city center toward the city's edge, then I noted the computer readings, recorded the effects on the board, and finally, photographed the results and the site itself. Also, especially if the town was small, I first visited the police station and explained what I intended to do with my wheel. If the officer appeared to consider me a dirty commie pinko peace activist, I would mention my service in Vietnam, and then he would vigorously shake my hand, heartily wish me "Good luck", and let me go on my not so merry way.

During that decade, there was great focus on the global nuclear weapon arsenal, President Reagan and his Soviet counterparts were rattling their sabres, the frightful film The Day After aired on television in late 1983, and in 1984 -- Gods rest Eric Arthur Blair's soul -- the arms race escalated mightily, all resulting in the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock ticking ominously forward, stopping at three minutes before Midnight, closer than it has ever been, except during 1953 when both primary Cold Warriors detonated thermonuclear devices within nine months of each other. Then only two minutes remained.

The clock warns us, "Be careful."

From my odyssey notes written in 1983: Example: A 22-kiloton weapon is detonated over the center of a city. (A 22-kiloton weapon was used at Nagasaki; very small compared to existing weapons.) At a distance of one kilometer, the maximum overpressure is 15.5 pounds per square inch. (Severe damage to a reinforced concrete structure occurs between 7 and 15 pounds psi.) At one kilometer, the wind velocity is 350 mph. (A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when velocity exceeds 73 mph.) Thermal radiation is measured in calories per square centimeter. How these units are derived is not important. What is important is that first-degree burns occur at 2-3 units, second-degree burns at 5-6 units, and third-degree burns occur at 8-9 units. In the example above, the thermal radiation is 50 (fifty) units.

Today the Clock reads six minutes before Midnight, just as we are about to have thoughtful days on August 6th and 9th.