Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Few Simple Numbers: Juxtaposed for Effect

Nagasaki Japan August 6, 1945 - 21 Kilotons

Mount St. Helens Washington, May 18, 1980 - 24 Megatons

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to defend the design, manufacture, or use of Nuclear Weapons, especially against civilian populations. It is intended to try to offer some humbling perspective on the works of man.

This post is in response to Ms. Shigeko Sasamori's visit to Los Alamos this weekend. Unfortunately, we did not attend her public speaking engagement.

About 6 years ago, former Beat Poet and contemporary Buddhist, Gary Snyder came to Santa Fe to read from his latest book of poetry. While on stage, he told a very interesting pair of anecdotes:

It seems that in August of 1945, Snyder was hiking on Mount St. Helens and upon returning to the Forest camp at the base, read the newspapers announcing the devastating bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He reported thinking how those cities would not see life again for tens of thousands of years.

In May of 1980, Snyder was visiting Nagasaki where he marveled at how little evidence of the destruction of 1945 remained noticeable. He was in Nagasaki when he heard the news of the Mount St. Helens eruption and was immediately taken back to the days he hiked it's slopes while Nagasaki and Hiroshima were bombed. 20 or so years after the eruption, Snyder returned to Mt. St. Helens and saw the marvelous rebirth of an ecosystem yet-more fully destroyed than even that of an atomic blast.

Snyder did not make the comparison but with a little research we discovered that the estimated amount of energy released in the Mt. St. Helens eruption was about 24 Megatons, or about 3 orders of magnitude more energy than in the Nagasaki-21 Kiloton (or Hiroshima-16 Kiloton) bombs. Krakatoa was apparently good for about 200 Megatons.

A good hurricane is apparently worth 8 Gigatons or (yet another) 3 orders of magnitude. The combined nuclear stockpile around the world is estimated at around 13,000 weapons with a combined energy of about 5 Gigatons or one modest hurricane! Killer asteroids such as the one which may have wiped out the dinosaurs clock in at a mere 100 Gigatons.

56 people were known to be killed in the Mt. St. Helen's eruption while an estimated 200,000 were killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, also about 3 orders of magnitude difference. WWII included 40-70 Million deaths or 2 more orders of magnitude. The recent tsunami in southeast asia (2005) took a little over 200,000 lives.

Man is clearly pretty good at using his contained and directed energies at killing people while mother Nature wields quite a bit more on a regular basis but is a bit less bent on such directed violence. Until humans escalate to anti-matter weapons (1 lb => 20 Megatons), we will be quite second-rate to mother nature. The amount of solar radiation, for example, impinging on the earth every second is about 10^18 joules or a Gigaton per second. Imagine what the sun is generating!

Enough of the goofy anecdotes and numbers... but let's back down on our human arrogance a couple of notches and think about what we are doing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Do as you are told and nobody will get hurt!

Great minds think alike... and so do Vlad's and the Good Doctor's I guess.

And we both have a Pinky and the Brain fetish too apparently!

From the Aboriginals of the North American continent to the Jewish peoples of Germany to the Palestinians, we have heard this line over and over. "Do as you are told and nobody will get hurt!" In hindsight it is always a euphamism for "do as we tell you and we will get what we want and you will be exterminated".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vlad the Impaler takes on Bechtel?

Go Vlad Go! See Vlad Go.

It looks like LLNL-the-rest-of-the-story has now been coined... and is run by Vlad the Impaler and has comments turned ON... LLNL-the-corporate-story does not allow comments .

But don't get too carried away, it also has the following caveats and warnings:

"This Blog is for ( LLNL / LLNS,LLC) employees only. "
" this blog is reviewed daily and if comments are out of line they will be removed."

Vlad's record is only a little worse than our own with a mere 2 comments on a total of 5 posts. We may try a comment just to see how he responds. We may risk impalement!

Vlad appears to have about as much use for Bechtel as We do, but with his odd syntax, it is a little hard to tell exactly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tragedy of Similar Proportions?

2500 abruptly w/o jobs is not the same as over 3000 dead and many more injured, but the conspiracy theorists are having a heyday noticing that both may be the very deliberate and ruthless acts of our own top government in cahoots with the military-industrial complex.

Can you say "Bechtel"? "Halliburton"? "Bush-Cheney"?

What is in it for Bechtel to have taken the LANS contract only to have to (get to?) fire 2500 employees, many highly educated, trained and skilled scientists? Their operating contract valued everywhere between $60M and $79M just doesn't seem like it is worth all of the trouble to them. What *else* are they in this for?

Any guesses?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Outsourcing RIF notifications

In a cost savings measure, LANS/Bechtel has outsourced it's RIF notification process.

"The total cost of RIFing 2500 employees should be under $20K with this company" says LANL Director.

Kindly Director Mike Anastasio is shown here:
"Making his list and checking it twice." "Gonna find out whose been naughty and nice!"

Saturday, September 8, 2007

RIF Management - Monte Carlos Style!

OK boys and girls, the fun is about to begin. LANL management is about to start "making plans for a Reduction In Force" something they have adamantly denied (refused) to be doing until last week.

We are smart people, we can come up with a "highly efficient" but "fair" way to make the "hard decisions". The Deer Hunter has nothing on us.

If we can find someone with P-card authority, we could buy one of these for each AD (along with 2500 rounds of "ammunition"). Anastasio could hold an "all-heads meeting for his upper management". He could pass these out, keeping one himself. This could be simulcast via LABNET for the staff. After Anastasio pulls the trigger on his own, if he survives, he would instruct all of his AD's and staff to do the same. If not, his second in command would step forward and repeat the procedure.

HR would be on hand to pass out pink-slips to the "unlucky ones".

Each surviving AD, or their (surviving) deputy, or a predetermined designee if all deputies of a directorate should "fail", would then call their own "all-head's" meeting for the their DL's and Division Staff who would be expected to repeat the process. GL's would be in attendance to observe but not participate.

By now, we should be up to nearly a hundred (somebody get the numbers, do the combinatorics for me?) very high paid employees who would never have left otherwise.

The GL's can then call all-heads meetings of their own, commit hari-kari themselves (or not) and then the staff, bolstered by the stoic performance of their upper management will be happy to participate in the final round.

A quick recalculation might show that in fact, the number of employees needing to be laid off has reduced significantly by the number of upper management leaving!

Now *that* is efficiency!

- Doc

Gone Missing? Gone Crazy? Loose Nukes?

Los Alamos National Laboratory is Gutted

by butchers who can't get Golden Eggs from their Golden Goose fast enough.

Friday, September 7, 2007

RIF or RIP ?

The LLNL Blog is starting to kick some ass in content and style...

Those who know me personally have accused me of being it's ghost-author... sorry boys and girls, I really have been hibernating!

I don't want to exaggerate the rumors of my resurgence just yet, so don't get your hopes up (or your knickers in a twist either) I might just be going on a short riff here.

"Riff", "RIF", "RIP"... hmmm?

It is the Blogger's perogative if he/she wants to enable comments, to moderate them or even to edit them mercilessly... I *like* public participation, even if it is only to provide me with lame hecklers to make fun of.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A New Day Dawns in NM.

Only a few miles and 60+ from the infamous Trinity Test in Mew Mexico, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic is building the world's first-ever commercial SpacePort - SpacePort America.

In a press release today, Branson stated: "We knew we were doing the right thing when we decided to locate SpacePort America in New Mexico. Today, we received an unprecedented number of applications for employment by some of the most highly qualified scientists and engineers in the world". Virgin Galactic's Personnel department was unable to be reached to verify whether in fact, 9,600 applications had been received en-masse from the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Human Resources department.

Branson was later overheard saying: "This is awesome, I am going to have the most highly overqualified staff on the planet working at my spaceport. Nobel Scientists and world-renowned Engineers are going to be polishing our spacecraft, emptying our dump tanks, and personally greeting and schmoozing our celebrity passengers... and all for a mere $8 per hour. I love this colony! This is better than that deal I had with Hooters a few years ago that (pardon my expression) kinda flopped! Some of those scientist blokes have enough money saved up to commute from their quaint little village on that hill of theirs on our airlines. I may just have to set up daily round-trip service from the Los Alamos Airport to SpacePort America! There are lots of pilots living and a pretty darn long runway too! But we may have to improve their flight control procedures a bit."