Zen Bastard (jimbojones) wrote,
Zen Bastard

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books, covers, and judging

So today was the last session of POLI 391M - w00t!  The class was a lot of fun and I learned a lot, but good god it was an enormous time and effort sink; I'm glad I took it but I'm glad it's over, too.  All four of our simulation National Security Councils have met, and I'm pretty sure ours did outstanding - it wasn't an easy thing by any means, and Professor Coates grilled the living hell out of us, but given that he told us that our mission in council was to "convince the President to adopt your preferred policy" and that he started out utterly savaging our preferred policy option (increased use of diplomacy and bringing in UN involvement in the war on terror), asking questions like "do any of you actually support this?" but ended the session not only adopting that policy stance but referring to it as "certainly the wisest option", I'd say we rocked it.

Our NSC was the first to meet, yesterday; the four NSC's were scheduled over yesterday and today.  Today's sessions were very interesting on an interpersonal level - in today's first one, Russ, the guy I had mentioned before in an FO post as being an extreme right-wing hawk, surprised me (pleasantly) by putting forth a very coherent and forcefully presented plan of action for our upcoming strategy in Iraq.  He was very obviously still a hardcore hawk, but his proposal was, I thought, right on the money and presented very professionally with a bare minimum of bombast.

The last of the NSCs to meet, though... whew.  Those poor bastards tanked.  "President" Coate finished off the session refusing to adopt ANY of their policy directives, and saying "I brought a better policy option to the table than anything that you've given me."  Ouch.  Their topic was Iran and its violation of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, and what to do about their upcoming push towards becoming a fully nuclear power.  They as a National Security Council had come to little or no consensus as a group about which of their options were preferred, and - horrifyingly to me - probably the one they had the MOST group consensus for was a set of unilateral air strikes against all nuclear facilities in Iran!

So eventually at the end of each NSC's session, "President" Coate opens up the floor to "the colleagues from your departments that I asked you to bring with you", ie giving the other people in the class a chance to ask questions of the NSC currently in session.  Immediately, I had to ask if anybody had considered the issues involved with BOMBING NUCLEAR REACTORS.  (If you haven't been keeping up on the Iran situation, they've got 16 nuclear facilities, all of which are at least in theory civilian nuclear power plants.  We suspect that two or three of them also contain weapons development facilities... but whether or not that's true, UNDOUBTEDLY most if not all of these 16 facilities are primarily functioning nuclear power plants.)  I said "Chernobyl is a word we all know very well, and our great-grandchildren will too.  Are we sure we really want to put an HE warhead into the middle of a reactor core in heavily populated regions, much less 16 of them when we've got a quarter of a million American citizens a couple of hundred miles away to the west (Iraq) and another 50,000 or so to the east (Afghanistan)?"

And OMG this little curly-headed dude just went berserk.  He'd been an incredible hothead during the entire session, practically frothing at the mouth whenever he opened it - which is odd because he'd never made an impression at all during the class itself, but man!  It's like he took a triple dose of Ripped Fuel before his NSC session.  But at any rate he pipes up and starts trying to very contemptuously explain to me that Chernobyl was a steam explosion (no, really?) and that we "wouldn't bomb the actual core, we'd just bomb the stuff around it."  And goes ON AND ON AND ON saying this incredibly romper-room stuff about nuclear power to me - half of which was wrong, half of which was beside the point - like I'm a complete idiot.  I kept trying to sort of wave him on like, you know... "dude stop wasting time and ranting"... and finally when I could get a word in edgewise again, instead of addressing the factual errors and just plain idiocies he'd been spouting, I let that slide and just asked "are you sure you've got good enough intel to know what to bomb and what not to bomb from an air strike, to avoid hitting any cores?"  And the dude puts on his OMG SUPAR CONTEMPT hat again and says "you can tell a reactor when you see it!  It's got rods sticking out of it!"

AAAAAAAAAARGH.  (Reactors aren't directly visible from satellite photos; they're placed in large containment facilities, frequently underground, and since they operate as closed loop heat engines they vent almost nothing in the way of heat OR any type of exhaust product, proportional to their actual power output.)

I could see Professor Coate rolling his eyes and sighing, and obviously this wasn't doing anybody any good, so I just let it slide.  But after the session and the class were dismissed, as everybody was filing out I made it a point to pause by the guy as he was collecting his stuff from the table and say quietly "By the way, just FYI... I am a former nuclear reactor operator - I personally operated an 88 megawatt S5W plant. I do know what a reactor looks like. And if you really want to talk about Chernobyl sometime, let me know and we'll sit down and talk about graphite moderated plants and positive thermal coefficients of reactivity."

The dude actually got a little pale, and he stammered for a second and tried for a defiant/sarcastic "okay", but his heart pretty clearly wasn't in it, and people were snickering.

Aaaaand that was the end of POLI 391M!
Tags: triumph, vignette

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