Quote of the Day: Kathy Burke

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like Kathy Burke.”

— Kathy Burke in an interview with The Observer Magazine, 29 October 2017

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VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: Viktor Latun, Photographer

He died from cancer of the blood. We had a wake, and in the Slavic tradition we drank. And then the conversations began again, until midnight. First about him, the deceased. But after that? Once more about the fate of the country and the design of the universe. Will Russian troops leave Chechnya or not? Will there be a second Caucasian war, or has it already started? Could Zhirinovsky become President? Will Yeltsin be re-elected? About the British Royal Family and Princess Diana. About the Russian monarchy. About Chernobyl, the different theories. Some say that aliens knew about the catastrophe and helped us out; others that it was an experiment; and soon kids with incredible talents will start to be born. Or maybe the Belarussians will disappear, like the Scythians. We’re metaphysicians. We don’t live on this earth, but in our dreams, in our conversations. Because you need to add something to this ordinary life, in order to understand it. Even when you’re near death.

— p. 193, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen)

Cleaning Up, Post-Apocalypse

A cameraman reports:

They were washing roofs. But how do you wash an old lady’s roof if it leaks? As for the soil, you had to cut off the entire fertile layer of it. After that there’s yellow sand. One old lady was following orders and throwing the earth out, but then scraping off the manure to use later. It’s too bad I didn’t shoot that.

— p. 105, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

A friend will ask self what she is reading now. When she tells them, they go, Sheesh! (Sub-text: You really must be a glutton for punishment!)

The first night after she began reading this book, she arrived in New York City. She stayed up all night, bug-eyed. The first story is the worst, the absolute worst. You just want to shake the stupid woman and cry. There’s all this florid Oh woe is me! I love my husband! Let me kiss him on his radioactive lips so that my unborn baby will know I did it all for love!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Director of the Apocalypse

I have my own memories. My official post there was commander of the guard units. Something like the director of the apocalypse. (Laughs). Yes. Write it down just like that.

— p. 46, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Let’s Eat Radiation

From an interview with a Russian soldier sent in to help the radiation clean-up effort around Chernobyl (pp. 41 -42, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster)

  • I’ve spent all day riding through all the villages, measuring the radiation. And not one of the women offers me an apple. The men are less afraid: they’ll come up to me and offer some vodka, some lard. Let’s eat. It’s awkward to turn them down, but then eating pure cesium doesn’t sound so great, either.

 

Radioactive Milk

The order of things was shaken. A woman would milk her cow, and next to her there’d be a soldier to make sure that when she was done milking, she poured the milk out on the ground. An old woman carries a basket of eggs, and next to her there’s a soldier to make sure she buries them. The farmers were raising their precious potatoes, harvesting them very quietly, but in fact they had to be buried. The worst part was, the least comprehensible part, everything was so — beautiful. That was the worst. All around, it was just beautiful. I would never see such people again. Everyone’s faces just looked crazy. Their faces did, and so did ours.

— pp. 37 – 38, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Radioactive, Stay Away!

Self is fascinated by radioactivity. She was in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History less than two weeks ago, and learned some about carbon dating. (She would have loved to ask a question about Area 51 but the tour guide might have thought she was crazy)

So here’s what happens when journalists cover a nuclear disaster:

At ten in the morning, the cameraman Shishenok died.

— p. 7, Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Money Quote of the Day: Joe Dempsie

The Baratheon line is strong in this one.

Last night, self powered up her MacBook and saw messages: He’s in King’s Landing! (Thank you dear cousin from Bacolod who couldn’t wait to tell her that)

Self wanted to say: Shut up! She so much wished she had been able to watch Eastwatch (Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5) before seeing that.

But when the opening credits were rolling, and she saw the name JOE DEMPSIE, she was like KILL ME NOW.

Shortly after the episode ended, she went on Google and saw about half a dozen new interviews with Dempsie (2017 as opposed to, oh, 2013). Dempsie must be a very busy guy!

Here’s a quote from his interview with Huffington Post:

There’s a scene in Season 7 where Arya doesn’t like Ned’s statue in the Winterfell crypts and says it should’ve been done by someone who knows his face. Gendry knows Ned Stark’s face and is a craftsman. What do you think about him making Arya a Ned Stark statue one day?

Dempsie:  I think that’d be great. Hopefully he’d make it out to Winterfell and not have sort of a Lionel Richie “Hello” type of thing, he drags it up as a present for Arya. But, yeah, I mean, that’s an interesting theory. I think you might be on to something there. I personally would like to hope that Gendry has a bigger role to play in the end game than carving a statue of Ned Stark . . .

lol

Stay tuned.

 

The Wall: Pro and Con from Ground Zero

The excerpts are from an article by Jenny Jarvie and Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2017, about the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where preparation for construction of the border wall has begun. The area, about 10 miles southeast of McAllen, is also the site of a 2,088-acre refuge created in 1943 “for the protection of migratory birds”:

  • “The Rio Grande Valley has been an area of exploitation by smugglers, and an area lacking in border infrastructure,” Carlos Diaz, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, wrote in an email. “These miles will help connect existing segments of wall throughout the area and fill critical gaps.”
  • “This is insane,” said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team. “This is the crown jewel of the Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuge system, with one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the U.S. If it’s walled off, with no public access, it will be left to rot.”

According to the LA Times, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under contract with Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm, to gather geotechnical data at sites in the Rio Grande Valley and other locations along the Southwest border, according to Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Also Reading: Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, 8 May 2017

Many scholars believe that the most plausible bases for a Trump impeachment are corruption and abuse of power. Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in constitutional studies, argues that, even without evidence of an indictable crime, the Administration’s pattern of seemingly trivial uses of public office for private gain “can add up to an impeachable offense.” Last week, after the State Department took down an official Web page that showcased Trump’s private, for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, Feldman told me, “A systematic pattern shown through data points would count as grounds for impeachment.”

And self is nowhere near the end of this article. It’s taken her days just to get this far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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