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View Diary: What are you reading? April 2, 2014 (78 comments)

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  •  I work in the Atomic City (6+ / 0-)

    and the stories those girls (and boys) have told me over the years have been downright amazing. And their kids, born and raised in such a singular, insular community, are an extremely interesting group of people (who bygod know how to PARTY).

    It's almost impossible to explain how weird this place is, much of it still cloistered (although the town is now thoroughly homogenized w/ the surrounding region [i.e., increasingly RWNJ/whitebread, but struggling to maintain its much-above-average public schools]), nestled among beautiful rivers and forested hills -- and insanely contaminated with industrial solvents, PCBs, heavy metals including over 2-4 million pounds of mercury, radioactive materials from decades of completely unregulated weapons R&D. The premature death toll among cold-war era trades and labor workers is jaw-dropping.

    But it gave people a lifestyle they could never have imagined, experiences they could never have imagined, work that was engaging and satisfying far beyond the expectations of people in this region, enough money to buy a house and put their kids through college -- advantages most people in this part of the country would never have had. This past Sunday at Lowe's, one of the employees and I jawed for almost an hour about his late father's life at the Lab. He was fully cognizant that his 30-year exposure to the chemicals involved in purifying bomb-grade uranium caused the cancers that were killing him but said he'd do it all again. I've heard this from many others through the years who knew what their lives would likely otherwise have been.

    Such a weird place but such cool people.

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 09:10:20 AM PDT

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    •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plf515, raincrow, Monsieur Georges

      raincrow! I can't wait to share that with my group. We had a terrific discussion on those featured in the book, as well as the ethics of putting them to work with NO idea what they were working with/on. As well as the huge topic of war...

      My gals are a well read, highly intelligent bunch. :)

      •  One of my best friends grew up in Brooklyn, (5+ / 0-)

        was in his 1st or early 2nd year at CUNY studying electrical circuits, when a recruiter walked into class and told them the government would pay them a very handsome salary and train them in electronics if they would drop what they were doing, get on the bus, and step off the edge of the world .... Where the heck was Tennessee, and what New Yorker in his/her right mind would ever voluntarily GO THERE???

        Almost all of them were from relatively poor working-class families, many of them Jews facing a life of struggle in that era's employment anti-Semitism. This sounded like an adventure PLUS a ticket out of the rat race. Several of them stood up, walked out of class, and went straight home to pack.

        My friend rode to Oak Ridge on the motorcycle he'd laboriously mcgyvered in high school from begged, borrowed, and home-built parts. He worked as an electronics repair technician thru the Manhattan Project, moved up into electronics design for another 15 years, then started his own company building nuclear instrumentation including amps, detectors, particle counters, and later the first programmable radio frequency scanners.

        He was not alone. Numerous others did the same, leaving the national lab to start their own garage businesses, many of which became highly successful, a pretty amazing assemblage of highly intelligent, creative, can-do scientists and engineers with a great flair for life, the arts, the outdoors, and civic involvement.

        Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

        by raincrow on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 12:09:05 PM PDT

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