Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Taking Issue

M. Simon writes the Power and Control blog and has been critically commenting on events in Japan involving the nuclear reactors there (starting here, here, hyperbolicly here and pretty much daily right up to here (just keep scrolling).

Let me interject by stipulating that I know considerably less about nuclear plant operations than does quite possibly anyone else outside the Kalahari desert, though I do know how to read English and have made an effort to grasp what I can from these nuclear amateurs (they not being professional Navy Men you understand).

My objection to M. Simon's characterisation of events up to now lies mostly (discounting my confessed schadenfreude over a professed libertarian arguing in favor of government/military forces occupying civilian businesses) with his willingness to attribute motive and disregard for safety to those whose actions he is in no way personally familiar with nor has any sort of reliable information regarding. This strikes me as both damaging to Mr. Simon's reputation (which I find distressing any time it occurs to someone who's writing I otherwise enjoy) and - at this point in the proceedings - entirely beside the point, assuming a successful resolution to the event is a desired outcome (which I believe to be the case here). I commented to that effect (and more, I fear) in response to his most recent post. While not interested in a blog flame war (and won't participate in one), I did feel obligated to point out the position I have taken on the subject (besides, I haven't anything else to babble on about just at the moment - content is content :)) which I concluded thusly:

I'm a veteran of the same USN you are (if an Airdale instead of a Nuke) and am well aware of just how slow to adapt Navy maintenance standards are. I'm also not going to attempt to argue that Japanese governmental (indeed, social) practices aren't culpable in the recent events - I've been stationed there too and know better. Trying to argue that USN non-civil regulatory compliant practices (however "safe" they might have proved in practice) are somehow a practical alternative for a non-military mission oriented civilian operation to employ is disingenuous in the extreme. Having retired military with the appropriate training and experience performing independent inspections (under authority of national law enforcement) very well might be, but I haven't read that argument being made on these pages either.

A confused and poorly told story about cataclysmic events half a world away actually strikes me as being entirely expectable and within the established norms of news reporting generally. Having counter-factual statements being issued by a variety of uncoordinated sources (governmental and otherwise) also strikes me as an expected occurrence following such a massively disruptive event (indeed, the opposite would seem evidence to me of a deliberate cover-up effort). Making condemnatory statements and broad policy observations based on partial and acknowledged-to-be incomplete information strikes me as ill-advised and damaging to the reputation, but feel free to Carry on, Sir!

If his intent is to prepare an "I told you so!" circumstance, Mr. Simon is well situated. If his intent is to inform, I think he dis-serves himself and his readership (an undesirable outcome for a professed professional writer, I would think). While acknowledging his vastly superior grasp of the technology involved compared to my own, I hope to read a more even-handed and reliably informed opinion in his future posts on this topic.

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