Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wolfman; Splittin' Atoms for Your iPod; Health Care Bill?

Hey. What's up?
Not too much here. Yesterday I had the day off for President's Day. One of my President's Day activities took me to the movie thater to see The Wolfman. It was... okay. I had read some reviews of it that panned it pretty harshly, and I didn't think it was as bad as all that, but, on the other hand, it wasn't exactly a really good movie either. The director did a good job of recreating a sort of gothic, classic horror movie feel for the whole thing, and the effects weren't bad (although the wolf man himself wasn't really as scary as I was expecting- he looked scarier while changing than he did once he was fully turned into wolf dude). Mostly, though, the characters just weren't all that impressive. I like Benicio Del Toro, but he just sort of wandered through scenes without displaying much emotion through most of the movie. Maybe he was going for depressed and despondent (which would have been appropriate for his character), but instead the performance just sort of came off as flat, and as a result I ended up having very little sympathy for or empathy with the character.
Anyway, it wasn't a bad movie, really, but it's not one that I'm really pushing my friends to go see.

What else? President Obama has approved a loan that would help to build two new nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia. Like a lot of people, I'm kind of wary of nuclear power. On the one hand, it seems like a good way to provide cost effective energy without releasing a bunch of CO2 and other harmful byrpoducts into our air and water. On the other hand, of course, there are the twin problems of nuclear waste disposal and the possibility of extremely harmful radiation contamination from a serious accident (or, frighteningly, possibly from an intentional attack upon a nuclear power plant).
But France has been using nuclear power since 1965 (providing around 78% of the country's electrical power), and they've suffered only a few minor accidents (none catastrophic- knock on wood) during that time. France is also one of the only countries in the world with an active nuclear reprocessing program- a program which recycles nuclear waste products to get the maximum possible use out of nuclear fuels before disposing of final waste products at a disposal facility.
The United States has had its own nuclear energy program since 1958, a program which produces almost 20% of the nation's electric power (or at least it did in 2008). The U.S. has had a few more accidents than the French (including the famous Three Mile Island incident in 1979) and more near misses, but, overall, the U.S. has maintained a pretty impressive safety record, and as of 2008 there were 104 nuclear power facilities operating in relative safety across the U.S..
Anyway, nuclear power isn't ideal, and it has to be handled extremely carefully, but it seems to present a viable alternative to fossil fuels and other energy sources that involve carbon emissions. And it may be a little twisted, but there's also something sort of appealing to me about dealing with an energy source that presents known, identifiable risks up front. People know that nuclear energy can be extremely dangerous, and they've been treating it with extraordinary caution since the initial days of its use. On the other hand, our carbon based energy sources have proven to be hazardous as well, but the slower, more subtle risks associated with fossil fuels have apparently fostered an attitude toward them which has not only made people cavalier about their risks, but which has apparently encouraged some people to remain in denial about their effects, even as the scientific community warns us of impending repercussions.
So I'm cautiously optimistic about the expansion of nuclear power. It's not going to replace oil anytime soon (or even coal in the immediate future), but it might be another step in the right direction.

What else? The White House is still claiming that the Dems are going to pass a health care bill. They're saying that they're going to post a merged version of a Senate-House compromise bill online, and when reporters asked if the White House would post its own version of a bill if an agreement could not be reached, press secretary Robert Gibbs responded by saying, "stay tuned".
Urrrgh. I just hope they pass something that can actually make some meaningful changes in the current system. To say that my hopes and expectations have been scaled back would be an understatement.

Well, that's it. I gotta run.
The sun's out.
Have a good one.

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