Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Too Much Clutter in America's Nuclear Attic?

<-- Mark 12 "Brock" atomic weapon

Several newspapers had this or a similar story in it yesterday:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military mistakenly shipped four nuclear-missile detonators to Taiwan in 2006, then failed to detect the error for more than a year, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Pentagon officials said they didn't know how the detonators had been sent when Taiwan had ordered helicopter batteries or who was responsible. Michael Wynne, the secretary of the Air Force, said the cone-shaped fuses didn't resemble the power batteries that Taiwan had requested.

Wynne said that the misdirected detonators, used to ignite the trigger of a Mark-12 nuclear weapon, didn't pose a security threat. The triggers couldn't be used to detonate other weapons, officials said.

That's strange. Did someone at the airbase from which they were shipped, look at a packing list that said "helicopter battery" and accidentally pack 4 nuclear bomb triggers? I imagine they have a label on the box that reads "WARNING! NUCLEAR BOMB TRIGGER INSIDE. DO NOT USE HOOKS" or something like that. Still I guess mistakes happen.

But here's what I really don't understand. The triggers were for Mark -12 nuclear weapons. The Mark 12, nicknamed "Brock" by those who have pet names for atomic bombs, hasn't been part of the nuclear arsenal since 1962. These things have been outdated for 46 years. I think (this is no joke) that a Mark-12 trigger uses vacuum tubes.

So, my question is, why are we keeping so much junk in our nuclear attics? Even my mom finally cleared out her basement (throwing away my collection of vintage Archie comics, but that's another issue.)

No doubt there are still a thousand crates of horse liniment for the cavalry or a million sticks of slowmatch for flintlock rifles piled next to the Mark-12 triggers as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

TV-B-Gone? A good first step

In this month's Wired Magazine, number 16-04 (I have absolutely no idea what Wired's magazine numbering scheme means) there is an article on the rivalry between gadget blogs Engadget and Gizmodo. In it there's a anecdote about one of the blogger's taking a device called a TV-B-Gone to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and wrecking havoc on the many, many TV's there.

A TV-B-Gone is a small battery operated device invented by Mitch Altman who I met a number of times at various Make Magazine events. Push the button on a TV B Gone and every TV in the area turns off. Kinda cool.

More power to ya, Mitch. There's too much tv and other noise in the world. Why do restaurants, noisy enough anyway, feel they have to pump in extra music, enough to make conversation with more than one other person impossible? Why do supermarkets and Home Depots feel that I can't shop unless there's music constantly playing. There's music, usually bad music cluttering up nearly every lobby, waiting area, and vestibule in existence.

Note to world: I do love music but I do not need to be bathed in it every second of the day or in every public place I go. I don't think it makes the world a more pleasant place. Please, turn it off.

Mitch: Please invent a Music - B - Muted device. I will buy several. Thanks.