Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book review - "The Radium Girls" by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore delves into the lives of the women who painted dials and clocks for the U.S. military during World War I.  The paint they used contained radium, a radioactive substance that glowed in the dark, thus its use for aircraft indicators.  The girls, hired by U.S. Radium Corporation (USRC), were unaware of the dangers of the radium compound they used, and the company reassured them frequently that the substance was perfectly safe.  The girls, mostly teenagers and early-twenty-somethings, developed a technique to make their lines straight.  They put the brushes with the radium compound into their mouth so the bristles could produce the tiny lines required by the company.


The girls also painted their fingernails with the compound and put it on their eyelashes, loving the glow-in-the-dark effect it had.  Their jobs were lucrative and they enjoyed having parties and wearing fashionable clothes.  Even after the war ended, there was a demand for radium painted products.
After a few years, some of the women began developing serious health problems and then dying.  It took a while for them, their dentists, and their doctors to make the connection between their jobs and the radium.  Naturally, they went after USRC, whom they claimed knew about the dangers of radium but withheld the information from them.

Naturally, the company did everything it could denying any responsibility and would not claim liability.  The women spent years fighting USRC and time, realizing that they might not live long enough to see justice served.

Moore based her book on a number of interviews with the relatives of the radium girls, and plenty of court records.  Most disturbing, though, was the details in which she describes the deteriorating health of the radium girls, chronicling their rapid declines and suffering to death meticulously.  It got rather stomach-churning in some instances to read what was happening to these women.  In fact, there were times in the book, I thought Moore might be putting too much detail in their symptoms but it does illustrate how poorly these women were treated by their employers, doctors and even townsfolk. 

What is chilling about this book is the corruption of the USRC to deny these girls the lives they should have had all for the sake of making a buck.  The dangers of radium had been known since 1901 when the Curies first discovered it.  The company knew of those dangers but deliberately lied to the girls to cover their complicity.

Sound familiar?

Atlantis (STS-104) launched 2001

STS-104 crew.  Seated (L-R): Seated - Charles O. Hobaugh, Steven W. Lindsey; 
Standing (L-R) - Michael L. Gernhardt, Janet L. Kavandi, James F. Reilly

Mission patch

The Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-104), launched July 12, 2001, was a installation and repair mission to the International Space Station.  Its crew consisted of Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Charles Hobaugh, Michael Gernhardt, Janet Kavandi, and James Reilly.

The mission installed the Quest airlock, which is the primary entrance and egress for spacewalks.  Gernhardt and Reilly performed three EVAs lasting over 16 hours total. 

They returned to Earth July 22.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Oklahoma Editorial Board bemoans the resignation of their golden boy

I had wondered how the Oklahoma Editorial Board was taking the news of Pruitt's resignation from TEPA.  Unsurprisingly, they've taken advantage of the opportunity to praise Pruitt and his "impressive" record at the TEPA.  The OEB lauded his efforts to eliminate the Clean Power Plan and redefining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS).  They ignored the fact that all of Pruitt's actions have been challenged in court and nothing has been done policy-wise.  The WOTUS does not declare "large swaths of dry land to be navigable waterways".  During his campaign, The Donald complained that the EPA designated puddles as navigable waterways, which was incorrect, but facts never bothered The Donald.

Or the OEB.

They state that the Paris Climate Agreement set "impossible emission goals" and allowed other countries to "increase greenhouse gas" emissions.  The U.S. is on its way to meet those goals, based on the decline of coal usage and the increase of renewable energy options.

The OEB brags that Pruitt made the Superfund cleanups a priority.  What they don't mention is many of the sites that came off the list was the result of work done during the Obama administration, NOT the Donald's.  And they don't mention how and why other sites came off the list.  Hint: It didn't have anything to do with actual clean-up.

They called Pruitt's numerous scandals as "laughable" but did have to admit that some of those allegations weren't easy to dismiss.

It won't be long before the OEB has their lips pressed firmly against Wheeler's ass.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Giotto probe visits Comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup 1992

The European Space Agency launched the Giotto probe in July 1985, and on July 10, 1992, it made its closest approach to Comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup. 

The probe first made contact with Halley's Comet in March 1986, but during the flyby, the probe's camera was destroyed.  When Giotto passed by Comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup, it could not take any images. 

Happy birthday, cosmonaut Pyotr Klimuk!

Pyotr Ilyich Klimuk, born July 10, 1942, is a veteran of three Soyuz space flights and the first Belarusian travel in space.

His first flight was aboard Soyuz 13 as commander in December 1973.  It was the Soviet Union's first mission dedicated to science mission.

His second flight was as Commander on Soyuz 18 to the space station Salyut 4 May-June 1975.  The environmental conditions on Salyut 4 began to deteriorate and Klimuk was only able to take a 10-minute walk two days after he landed.  It took him a full week before he completely recovered.

Klimuk's third and final fight was commander of Soyuz 30 June-July 1978 to Salyut 6.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around The Clock" first pop song to hit #1 on Billboard Pop Charts 1955

Rock Around the Clock, recorded and released by Bill Haley & His Comets, was released in May 1954 as the B-side to Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town).  Remember that classic hit?  No?  Neither do I. 

Rock Around the Clock was considered a commercial disappointment until 1955, when it was used for the opening credits of the movie, Blackboard Jungle.  The rest is history.

July 9, 1955 it became the first rock and roll recording to top Billboard's Pop charts and stayed their for 8 weeks.  Rolling Stone lists it as #158 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 2018, it was selected for preservation into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

The environment is still screwed: Incoming TEPA Admin Wheeler will be just as bad as Pruitt

The Washington Post interviewed Andrew Wheeler, set to become the TEPA's administrator now that Pollutin' Pruitt is gone.  But are we better off now?

In the interview, Wheeler:
  1. thanks Pruitt for his service (not a good thing),
  2. will work to implement The Donald’s agenda (a very bad thing), 
  3. says he was an aide to Jim Inhofe (may God help us all),
  4. had the longest confirmation process for EPA deputy admin,
  5. promises transparency (sound familiar?),
  6. does not consider himself a scientist (being put in charge of a science-based organization),
  7. claims the Science Advisory Board was “reconfigured”, not decimated,
  8. says the Clean Power Plan was outside the “four corners” of the Clean Air Act,
  9. was an industrial lobbyist

I'm not feeling it.  The environment is still screwed.  But we will continue to fight. 

Read WaPo's article here: