Reassessing Nuclear Power’s Risks
RISK … Every human is a great evaluator of risk. Throughout our lives we make judgment about what can hurt us, what could kill. So, I’m not so sure we should look to others to assess our own personal risk in continuing down the nuclear road. Or the risk to our loved ones ... You don’t have to read the Wall St. Journal or listen to Fox News to know it would likely be unwise to look to the leaders of our capital-driven, growth-obsessed, industrial materialist society for a fair risk assessment … Citizens, when it comes to assessing the risks of nuclear power, I think we are called upon to consider the kind of radical action that Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin modeled for America – to start thinking for ourselves. To weigh as individuals what our risks are. With nuclear, and without … Otherwise, you may as well “Leave it to Beaver” as effectively as any industrial expert paid to convince you everything’s hunky-dory. Radionuclide’s are harmless. Radon is good for your lungs … Time to realize that all those too familiar “expert” nostrums --“state of the art”, “best available science”, “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA), or “practicable” (ALARP), or “cost effective,” etc. – for what they really are: educated guesses with incomplete data … Should we really risk $300 billion+ in damages and hundreds of American miles cordoned off from human contact for thousands of years to pay less on our monthly electrical bills? … Forget the “experts.” What does common sense tell you? Is the benefit worth the risk?
WRONG … Just my luck to have based a lot of historical research on a rare publication that appears to have been rife with errors … In 2004 Dr. Andrew Gulliford published my historical essay “Mining the Gold: Telluride and San Juan History” in his book, San Juan Sampler: Selections from the Nita Heald Webber Southwest Postcard Collection (Durango Herald Small Press). One of the primary sources I used to do research for the historical section was Ray L. Newburn, Jr.’s Postal History of the Colorado San Juan. It was a book none of the regional libraries or bookstores had a copy of – more manuscript than tome -- and it had been generously loaned to me by Buzz and Jean Zatterstrom of Nucla … Buzz was fascinated with postage stamps (as am I) and had secured a copy of Newburn’s monograph (along with a postmarked envelope he showed me from Cameville – a long-vanished post office townsite at the juncture of Tabeguache Creek and the San Miguel, just upstream from Uravan) … Thinking (as many amateurs do) that my single rare historical source could give me literary advantage – mining, as it were, the gold of found information, I rushed ahead without checking sources and cross-referencing what I had. Alas, my own hubris caught up with me … In his book, Newburn cites the name “Rio del Cado” as the appellation first given to Leopard Creek by the Dominguez y Escalante expedition of 1776 (the good padres were seeking a route to Monterey from Santa Fe, while ancestors on my mother’s side – the Santa Cruz family – were just arriving in Monterey from Mexico -- at about the same time). Newburn translates it as “River of the Elbow” (I think a better translation might be “Bent Creek” or “Crooked Watercourse”) … Nevertheless, I wrote up my little history and cited Newburn for my Leopard Creek story. Then, I got an email from former Tellurider and Colombian-American friend Lito Tejada-Flores a couple months ago and things started to go south. Somehow, in one of our exchanges, “Rio del Cado” came up and Lito replied curiously that “Rio del Codo” meant “Bent Creek” but Rio del Cado was a much more obscure word, literally “rabbit burrow” but really slang for “a hideout of crooks.” I was intrigued. Maybe Butch Cassidy was just the latest in a long line of outlaw denizens of Dallas Divide … That tantalizing theory collapsed, however, when I conferred with local historical sage Dirk de Pagter – whose collection of ancient maps of this region is legendary. “I think ‘Rio del Cado’ must have been a spelling mistake by Mr. Newburn,” wrote de Pagter, “because it is the only time it was called by this name. Hayden [earliest government surveyor of this region] first referred to it as ‘Rio del Codo’ in 1874-1877 and this name was used by many cartographers like Louis Nell who copied Hayden’s information. But, after the initial gold/silver rush, by 1886-1887 the name was changed to Leopard Creek. I cannot find any reference before Hayden” … So, not from Dominguez y Escalante. Not “Cado” at all … One more revisionist footnote to the comprehensive history of San Miguel County that’s yet to be written.
AND OOPS … Mea culpa, dear readers. Win an award & you start making mistakes all over the place. My only excuse: writing under deadline in the wee hours can carry one into strange corners that even copy editors don’t check … We are NOT on the cusp of the 21st Millennium of the Christian Era, as I asserted quite falsely last week. We HAVE entered the 21st Century of the Christian Era, but only the 3rd Millennium … Thanks to my old sem buddy Gary Saso of Cupertino for putting me straight after my flagrant off-course boo-boo.
GREGORY GREYHAWK … Another bright star flames out … One of those giant souls, huge-hearted, a string of his own hockey teeth pearled around his neck. Brilliant, erratic. I loved being around him. Anything could happen, and sometimes did …. Just ordered his book, Wailing Heaven, Whistling in Hell (Howling Dog Press, Berthoud, Colorado, 1996) … Gonna miss the wrap of his big arm as we caromed down a Denver sidewalk, and the wild grin of his gap-toothed smile.
THE TALKING GOURD
Remembering Karen Chamberlain
lanky stalk of grass
singing in the autumn wind
your voice packed with seeds