Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Somebody Didn't Clean Up After Themselves

There was a story in the New Scientist today about some early weapons-grade plutonium found in a safe in a waste pit at Hanford in the Tri-Cities area.

Two things popped into my mind when I read this. This irreverant song from the Cold War era by one of the best song writers you've probably never heard of, Steve Goodman.

Watching Joey Glow

Down here in the shelter, we've got everything we need.
Mom put up her peach preserves, Pa's got a book to read.
Sister knits some bandages, and we turn the lights down low
And play some Scrabble, watching Joey glow.

At breakfast Mom hands Joe the bread, and he turns it into toast.
Last night he hugged a leg of lamb, and soon we had a roast.
You should see him heat the coffee up when he stirs it with his toe.
We all get hungry, watching Joey glow.


You have to wear dark glasses if you look at him a while,
Or he'll fry your little eyes out with his incandescent smile.

At Christmastime, it sure felt strange, but it was great to see
The way we decorated Joe as if he was our tree,
And his star was shining brightly underneath the mistletoe,
So we blew him kisses, watching Joey glow.


I hope the world's not over, for my sake and for his.
I'd love for everyone to know how brilliant Joey is.

We've been down here for six months now, and we're proud to be alive.
We owe it to America to sit here and survive.
So we listen to the static on the short wave radio
And count the shock waves, watching Joey glow.

And on a more serious note, I was reminded of Atomic Farmgirl: Growing Up Right In The Wrong Place, an excellent story about growing up in eastern Washington downwind of Hanford. It's a touching story about rural and small town life and how it was affected by radioactive poisons released by the Hanford site.

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