As usual, P. J. O’Rourke anticipated the present. From Republican Party Reptile, 1987:
Something is happening to America, not something dangerous but something all too safe. I see it in my lifelong friends. I am a child of the “baby boom”, a generation not known for its sane or cautious approach to things. Yet suddenly my peers are giving up drinking, giving up smoking, cutting down on coffee, sugar, and salt. They will not eat red meat and go now to restaurants whose menus have caused me to stand on a chair yelling, “Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, dinner is served!” This from the generation of LSD, Weather Underground, and Altamont Rock Festival! And all in the name of safety! Our nation has withstood many divisions North and South, black and white, labor and management but I do not know if the country can survive division into smoking and non-smoking sections.
The Big Scary Thing this week is nuclear power, the generation of which was interrupted in Japan by, oh, let’s call it the result of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. Two questions come immediately to mind, and fortunately for me and my indolence, they’ve already been asked. First, by Francis W. Porretto:
No one could build a reactor guaranteed to withstand any imaginable calamity, because such calamities are unbounded in magnitude. A significant meteorite impact say, a nickel-iron rock 10 to 50 meters in diameter would collapse the containment around any reactor and disperse the fissionables into the atmosphere. It would do even worse to a fossil-fueled power plant. Shall we, then, eschew electrical power generation altogether?
And the other, by Tam:
Remember back in ’50s and early ’60s, when we set off something like 900 atomic bombs in Nevada? And how we just let the fallout blow wherever and it landed all over the eastern US? And how it wiped out life as we know it and all that was left from Colorado to the Atlantic were six-legged rats battling two-headed cockroaches in the glowing ruins?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a banana, a good source of potassium and, inevitably, a good source of potassium-40. For now, I offer this reminder: The only place on earth where you can’t be hurt is the graveyard. And don’t worry: you’ll get there soon enough.