28 thoughts on “Atomic kittens

  1. StephenR

    I saw them as both a celebration of nuclear power in their own way – the first from when nuclear fission was going to keep us safe, power our cars and spaceships, and probably cure cancer; the second as a response to the ‘bogeyman’ of nuclear power – ‘look, she’s looking glamorous by the nuke power station! Wow!’.

  2. BLiP

    The dichotomy between the giver of life (woman) and the taker of life (nuclear bombs) . . . perhaps even, at a stretch even for me, \family values\ – the soft and lovely (woman) masking the evil reality of what those who use the term actually intend . .

  3. Anita

    I first saw the the second photo as anti-nuclear, which shows just how well our own filters can overcome jarring propaganda :) If she wasn’t smiling it could be a statement about the environmental impact of the nuclear industry.

  4. StephenR

    …If she wasn’t smiling it could be a statement about the environmental impact of the nuclear industry.

    That would depend on whether people know it’s totally harmless steam coming out of those towers or not, rather than horrible mutating plutonium gas or something. The Simpsons have a lot to answer for.

  5. Lew Post author

    Heh, no trick here, folks – the images link through to their respective sources :)

    I think it’s interesting how little difference there is in principle with these images, across half a century, and different countries, and the difference between military and civilian usage.

    This last is the most important distinction to me, because in reality nuclear power is a whole different matter to nuclear weapons – like the difference between transistor radios and tasers – but the environmental movement (and Greenpeace especially) has done such a great job of establishing the `nuclear’ brand that they’re the same in peoples’ minds.

    L

  6. Lew Post author

    SR,

    Surely an oxymoron.

    “Why, me, in a political photo? Oh, silly, I was just having a little bit of fun!”

    Etc.

    L

  7. StephenR

    “Why, me, in a political photo? Oh, silly, I was just having a little bit of fun!”

    Ha! Gotcha.

  8. Rich

    Well, nuclear power started as a scheme to make nuclear weapons more acceptable by promoting “peaceful” uses of the technology.

    The nuclear reactor was invented to produce plutonium. In doing so, it generates a lot of heat that can be used to generate electricity. The first nuclear power stations were plutonium production units with associated generators hooked up to the grid. This enabled governments to promote these as peaceful utility projects rather than nuclear weapons infrastructure.

    Even today, nuclear electricity isn’t really a commercial proposition. Only if the costs of decommissioning, waste disposal and insurance are stripped out through government intervention can a nuclear power station be commercially viable.

  9. Lew Post author

    Rich,

    Well, nuclear power started as a scheme to make nuclear weapons more acceptable by promoting “peaceful” uses of the technology.

    Yeah, lots of technology we use every day was developed by military R&D departments or the military-industrial complex. There’s usually a big tech availability spike after every major war. Quick, easy and cheap water purification, prosthetics, communications technology, all sorts. Even the internet! Lesson: because something was developed by the military for military purposes doesn’t make it somehow bad or wrong; to the contrary, it’s probably pretty good.

    I think you’re right, though, that nuclear power is only economic when the environmental and safety externalities of its use are not fully included within the due diligence calculation. But that calculation is about to change enormously with global prices on carbon, and we are already seeing nuclear power touted as a least-bad option for long-term energy security. And bikini babes look to be part of that solution’s marketing.

    L

  10. BLiP

    Lew

    This last is the most important distinction to me, because in reality nuclear power is a whole different matter to nuclear weapons – like the difference between transistor radios and tasers – but the environmental movement (and Greenpeace especially) has done such a great job of establishing the `nuclear’ brand that they’re the same in peoples’ minds.

    A bit tenuous, don’t you think? They reason they are the same in peoples’ minds is because they are the same, not because we’ve been brainwashed by Greenpeace.

  11. Lew Post author

    BLiP,

    A bit tenuous, don’t you think? They reason they are the same in peoples’ minds is because they are the same, not because we’ve been brainwashed by Greenpeace.

    The energy source is the same, in the scientific sense. But in actual practical reality the difference between a nuclear weapon and a nuclear power station is pretty clear, wouldn’t you say?

    An analogy which is closer to home: arson versus the internal combustion engine. Should we eschew the use of the latter because of the former? They’re both fire, after all.

    L

  12. Anita

    Lew writes,

    An analogy which is closer to home: arson versus the internal combustion engine. Should we eschew the use of the latter because of the former? They’re both fire, after all.

    If the engines were made by a company which makes its money from arson, and the R&D for engines and arson was entangled and the finances equally muddy. Also we should eschew the kinds of internal combustion engine that are reliant on non-renewable fuels when other engines which use renewables are available.

  13. Rich

    And the exhaust was somewhat more toxic than it actually is.

    And nobody would insure a petrol vehicle in case it burst into flames.

    And once worn out, vehicles had to be stored and guarded for several hundred years in case they caught fire.

  14. Carol

    Damn. I just typed an analysis of the women in the photos, and it all got deleted when I inadvertantly clicked on a link to somewhere else. Too much to type it all again, but there is a difference between the women that reflects differences in gender constructions and consumerism between the 50s and now.

  15. Lew Post author

    The point wasn’t to defend nuclear energy so much as to highlight the fact that it’s not as inherently bad as nuclear weapons, a rather obviously true statement.

    (Incidentally: there is a case for nuclear energy, and I have argued it, but it was years ago and I’m not prepared to do so now without a lot more research. However largely it came down to `who do you trust to mitigate that much risk and uncertainty?’, which remains an open question. I didn’t (and still don’t) think anyone could be, but that’s quite a different matter than the technology being so fundamentally flawed as to be worthless.)

    L

  16. imperial zeppelin

    Is it just me being too cynical? Do the photos not in fact suggest two quite polarised messages?

    The first seems to say that nuclear is ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ and ‘explosive’ blah, blah, blah.

    The second struck me as a piss take. Like it’s saying that the one and only up side to nuclear is that at least you get a good sun tan! (Two weeks before you drop ’cause of radiation sickness)

    Okay. Went to the links and I guess my initial take is way off base. Oh well.

  17. Paul Williams

    (Incidentally: there is a case for nuclear energy, and I have argued it, but it was years ago and I’m not prepared to do so now without a lot more research. However largely it came down to `who do you trust to mitigate that much risk and uncertainty?’, which remains an open question. I didn’t (and still don’t) think anyone could be, but that’s quite a different matter than the technology being so fundamentally flawed as to be worthless.)

    For a brief period of time a year or so back, there was a serious discussion about nuclear energy in Australia and globally including a suggestion from former PM Bob Hawke that Australia position itself as the globaly respository of waste. As the largest and most stable continent on the planet and the major producer of nuclear fuel, he had a damn good point… pity about the politics hey.

  18. Lew Post author

    Paul,

    Mad Max, here we come!

    On the face of things, a nice pragmatic idea from economic, energy-security and some environmental perspectives, but I would be vehemently opposed to any such scheme led by any Australian government until there is a legal and intellectual infrastructure set up to give adequate voice to the concerns of indigenous Australians. Not even the bare framework of such a structure yet exists in Australia, and for that reason informed consent is impossible to ascertain.

    L

  19. jcuknz

    I would prefer that the tog had waited or pressed the trigger earlier so that the first woman’s hair wasn’t smoking. In the second she should be clear of the stack or against it and not have it cutting her shoulder, poor lass.

  20. jcuknz

    With the problem of the waste I think nuclear is best avoided when we have wind and water power, either here or being developed. It rankles that the same folk who argue against nuclear also do their damdest to block wind generation. The other living thing which perhaps can tolerate nuclear waste might be the long lived redwood trees of california, but for humans it is lunacy.

    But I guess most of us only live for today, though some think of their children’s future.

  21. jcuknz

    If it was editing then it is damm poor work. Even without what we have with digital there were ways to extend the tan up her body if she didn’t want to pose in the buff.

  22. Lew Post author

    jcuknz,

    I agree with both your composition remarks. These aren’t photoshopped, though – they’re the original images; though the first might be a double exposure or other sort of composite (hard to say with such a low-grade image). No excuse for the second, and they could have picked a sunny day, too.

    L

  23. Anita

    I wonder if the untanned gap makes the photo more titillating than it would be if she there was no visual signal that you’re seeing more than it’s decent for her to expose.

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