I have been watching the HBO miniseries Chernobyl and it is, as my retired Marine Corps co-workers would say, out-fucking-standing.

I’ve been waiting for the finale to write about it, but then something happened that made me accelerate my plans.

Before I go into that, I want to heap more praise on the show.

I have read a lot about the Chernobyl incident and the miniseries as about as historically accurate as they could make it and not be a boring documentary.

There are some minor changes, such as condensing a team of about 20 physicists to one character played by a fantastic Emily Watson.

The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, everything about the show expertly captures the grinding poverty and misery of the mid 1980’s Soviet Union as it was sliding into collapse.

It also captures the casual disregard for human life that the Soviet Union had for its people and the oppressive cruelty of the Soviet police state.

For example (a little physics here too):

Chernobyl was an RBMK type reactor.  Those are water cooled, graphite moderated.  RBMK reactors use non-enriched Uranium as fuel, and regular water as coolant, which makes them cheaper to operate, which is one reason they were so popular in the Soviet Union.

In a RBMK nuclear reactor, neutrons kicked off by U-235 strike other U-235 atoms and cause those to fissile (break apart) kicking off more neutron which hits more U-235 driving a chain reaction.

In a nuclear weapon, more than 90% of the uranium is U-235, so the statistical likelihood of neutron capture goes up and the fissile chain reaction goes into run-away and an explosion happens.

In an RBMK reactor, only 0.72% of the uranium is U-235, so neutron capture for a chain reaction is unlikely.

Natural neutron emission by Uranium is fast neutrons, these have very high energy, but because of the wave/particle nature of subatomic particles, they have a short wavelength and small capture area.  A chain reaction can be generated by moderating the neutrons, slowing them down to thermal neutrons, increasing their wavelength, which increases their capture area increasing the statistical likelihood of capture and a chain reaction.

An RBMK reactor uses graphite to slow down the neutrons and drive the chain reaction.

The other part of a nuclear reactor are control rods, these absorb neutrons, taking them out of the chain reaction.  Drop neutron absorbers into a nuclear reactor and the reaction slows down, drop in enough and the chain reaction stops.

In an emergency, a reactor is supposed to drop in all the control rods killing the chain reaction and shutting down the reactor.

In an RBMK reactor, there are two dangerous design flaws.  The reactors use water to both cool the fuel and act as a neutron absorber.  If the reactor gets too hot, the water will boil forming bubbles.  Steam is a poor neutron absorber compared to water, so the reaction rate increases.  This is called having a positive void coefficient.

The control rods also have graphite tips.  If the control rods are all the way out and dropped into the core, the first thing that the core sees is a neutron moderator (graphite) and not a neutron absorber (boron carbide) increasing the rate of reaction.

In Chernobyl, they were running a test and had the control rods all the way out and the cooling water at a low flow rate.  As the water boiled to steam, it stopped absorbing neutrons and the reaction rate increased.  The operators tried to shut down the reactor by inserting the control rods, but this dropped more graphite into the reactor.  The combination of boiling coolant and additional graphite caused the reactor to go critical and cause a steam explosion and criticality energy release.

(Physics lesson over)

In the fourth episode, you find out that the Soviet Union knew about this potentiality because of previous reactor tests.

Rather than issue a warning to the other RBMK reactors to make sure this would never happen, the KGB classified this as a state secret to keep the world from knowing about the flaw in the Soviet nuclear energy program.  So when the operators at Chernobyl ran their tests without this information, they blew up the reactor.

You also witness how the KGB and Soviet Government spent a lot of effort trying to hide their mistakes and how many lives that cost.

In the first episode, it opens seconds after the reactor explodes.  The chief operator of the plant keeps saying that an RBMK reactor cannot explode.  The personal dosimiters that the operators are wearing are all pegged at the max reading of 3.6 Roentgen.

Roentgen is a measure of the electrical charge generated by the ionization of air by ionizing radiation and is a good approximation for radiation exposure.

As the operators keep pulling out more dosimeters that go to a higher scale, those keep pegging out.

The chief operator keeps saying “those are broken it’s only 3.6 Roentgen.”

Later the military shows up measures over 15,000 Roentgen.

A good engineer would say “all of our meters are a max, so it must be higher than that.”

Steadfast adherence to the lowest measured number because that is the one that if reported will cause the least amount of embarrassment to the state is exactly the sort of thing that George Orwell wrote about in 1984 and has become known as “2 + 2 = 5.”

That is how the Soviet Union acted.

When Soviet physicists were trying to investigate the cause and solve the problem, the KGB spied on them, arrested them, and censored and restricted the materials they needed.

The Soviet Union even tried to cover up the explosion and didn’t evacuate people until radioactive Iodine started to rain down on Sweden and they couldn’t hide it anymore.

As you watch the show, you really get an understanding of the pervasiveness of the repressive police state that was the Soviet Union.

So…

In view of all that, enter the famed horror writer, Stephen King.

King suffered from a terrible case of Bush Derangement Syndrome back in the 2000’s, and now suffers from a  case of Trump Derangement Syndrome that has become terminal to parts of his brain responsible for rational thought.

 

 

What the actual fuck is he talking about?

Everything about the Chernobyl was representative of all the failures of totalitarian Communism, and King can’t help making it about Trump.

This would be bad enough, but then the writer and producer of Chernobyl had to give King’s idiot assertion a boost.

 

 

This is the guy who has done a truly amazing job capturing the horrors of the Soviet Union during its slow collapse in the 1980’s (the subject of my thesis for my minors in military history in college, something I know a bit about) and implies that really the show is about Trump.

I don’t know what to make of this.  I have three choices:

  1. He’s a huge fan of Stephen King and doesn’t want to tell him “no, you’re a fucking idiot.”
  2. He has to imply horrible shit about Trump to stay on good graces with Hollwood and HBO.
  3. He actually believes this and he too has TDS that has destroyed his ability to think about things rationally

A little down the conversation, this happens:

 

 

The answer is Number 3.  This guy has been made fucking retarded by TDS.

Chernobyl is a seething indictment of Socialist Statism that puts the power of the state bureaucracy over everything else, including the lives of the people.

I don’t know if that is an indictment of the Democrats unless the Democrats are pushing for Soviet Communism.

There is an enormously powerful scene in the 4th episode in which the army is evacuating people from the radiation zone.

They come across this 80-year-old woman on a farm, milking a cow.  She refuses to evacuate.  She talks about how she lost her family bit by bit during the Socialist Revolution, the Holodomor, World War Two, and now she is the only one left but she never left the farm and never will.

The soldier dumps out her bucket of milk.  When she picks it back up and starts milking the cow again, he shoots the cow.

That is the Soviet Union.  It did nothing but kill and make suffer and oppress.  It left that women with nothing but a hut and a cow, then it killed her cow and dragged her out of her hut.

Craig Mazin’s idiocy continued to shine when confronted by Dan Bongino.

 

I want to make this point perfectly clear.  There was virtually no love of Stalin and no love of Lenin by anybody who actually knew Lenin.  The love Lenin was a carefully crafted cult of personality.

What there was, was fear.  A ubiquitous and omnipresent fear.

Stalin and Lenin populated the ranks of the state police and parts of the military with people personally loyal to them.  That loyalty wasn’t based on love or principle, but of mutual benefit.

Stalin and Lenin empowered thugs and brutes.  Taking people who in a normal society would be criminals and outcasts, and made them comfortable government officials in exchange for them using their love of inflicting pain and suffering on the people opposed to Stalin and Lenin.

Tyrants have always had brute squads composed of sociopaths given free rein to pray upon the political undesirables.

The KGB spied on everyone.  Silence was the name of the game in the Soviet Union.  People were afraid to speak in their own homes.  Everyone knew that at any time they could be dragged away and shot for even so much as criticizing some aspect of the state to a spouse.

So where are the MAGA brutes?  Where are the secret police spying on Americans?  Where is the ubiquitous and omnipresent fear of criticizing Trump?  How many people have been dragged away in the middle of the night and shot, with other afraid to even mention their name, less they be shot too?

Objectively speaking, there is nothing in the United States under Trump that parallels the conditions people lived in under the Soviet Union.

None.

And yet, here is a world famous American author and a Hollywood producer saying it does.

He seems to revel to trying to point out how every criticism of the oppressive Soviet bureaucracy by conservatives is nothing but hypocracy by and it’s really Trump that’s evil.

 

Here is the link to the video.

Clearly, he believes that Trump is in all things evil, and all things evil are in Trump.

I fail to fathom this level of obtuseness.

This is ridiculous fucking bullshit that is an insult to the tens of millions that died under Soviet oppression and those that risked everything to escape it.

If you can write a show that so incredibly captures living under Soviet Communism and think that it is a reflection on Trump, there is no help for you.  Parts of your brain have atrophied and died.

It’s sad.  Still, I highly recommend Chernobyl.

 

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By J. Kb

19 thoughts on “TDS causes two writers to suffer brain damage”
  1. The reality is simple.
    If you only read opinions that agree with yours, if you only watch news that has an editorial slant that is in agreement with your opinions, if you only talk to other people who agree with you, you actually end up believing yourself.

    During the 2016 campaign, the Dems, and the MSM tried their hardest to make Trump into a monster. And their fans bought into it, hook, line, and sinker. And, now they actually believe Trump is the boogeyman they created, and reject any evidence that demonstrates otherwise.

    If you are not adamantly opposed to Trump and everything he does, you are a part of some conspiracy, or blinded. Sheeple is a term often used. Yet, the person making those claims is absolutely convinced their eyes are open, and they are the ones seeing the world clearly. (See Mazin’s last tweet above, where he accuses Chuck of being fooled by lies, without realizing that his tweet is equally applicable to himself.)

  2. I would also recommend the book “Midnight in Chernobyl” by Adam Higginbotham. Still reading it, but … Wow.

  3. I said it before. To them the Gulag archipelago is an instruction manual not a cautionary tale. If you remember in the first volume how he talked about how they would round up people and the kangaroo court. They want that in United States. they want a police state to round up every single person and all of those persons associates to send him to prison camps or simply kill them. To them Stalinist Soviet union is the blueprint of what liberal progressive America should be. If that means the complete removal of all rights and the extermination of half the country and killing every single member of the Republican Party and using nuclear weapons to exterminate 150 million people; almost half the population, so be it. Because that’s the kind of mentality we are dealing with.They don’t care about the human aspect. They don’t care about human lives. They only care about power and they don’t give a shit how many people they have to kill to get it and keep it.Why do you think the Democrats joke about nuking United States citizens on United States soil?

  4. A couple of minor points, I am a retired nuclear engineer, and I have researched Chernobyl accident, although not in a scholarly manner but more as an interested and knowledgable observer. To avoid confusion, there was no nuclear explosion ala Hiroshima. What there was was a steam explosion where the steam pressure generated by the extremely rapid temperature rise from the reactor excursion exceeded the maximum pressure of the steam/water piping system. The resulting energy release tore the cooling water tubes apart releasing the hot steam which contacted the hot graphic moderator. this creates carbon monoxide gas which then also exploded causing even more damage. With the hot graphic exposed to the air and steam mixture the graphite caught fire. The uranium fuel elements located in the cooling channels melted and released their inventory of radioactive fission products. the burning graphite continued to melt the fuel elements releasing even more fission products.

    What actually initiated the accident was another example of soviet bureaucracy run amok. The reactor was due to be shut down for refueling, the State Energy Bureau wanted to test the response of shutting down the cooling pumps prior to a reactor trip and using the decay heat to power plant systems (no I don’t understand it either). This test needed to start at about 20% power, because at lower power levels, the RBMK reactors were notoriously unstable (and nearly uncontrollable). However as the time for the test approached, the State Energy Bureau, ordered the reactor to keep operating as the electrical power was needed. Due to burnup (using the available U-235) and an increase in fission products that absorbed neutrons, the power level decreased to less than 10% and the rods were withdrawn fully out of the core. At this point the Chief Engineer (roughly equivalent to the plant manager) was contacted and told the unit would be shutting down and that the entry requirements for the test could not be met. He ordered the test to be done anyway, and of course in Soviet Union dissent was not tolerated. Thus the test was started and the accident occurred.

    1. “… there was no nuclear explosion ala Hiroshima. What there was was a steam explosion…”

      Well, there has been some speculation that there was a prompt criticality causing either the first or second explosion (more likely the first).

      But even then the maximum estimated size of the second bigger explosion was around ten tons of TNT.

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident.aspx

      Also the Wikipedia article on this seems to be ok.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

      Borepatch’s blog had a post on Chernobyl a few weeks back that got a little “interesting”. 😀

      https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2019/05/chernobyl.html

      https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2019/05/follow-up-on-chernobyl.html

    2. I added the part about the steam explosion, but the math for a steam explosion doesn’t fully explain the graphite fire. Graphite it hard as hell to get to burn. The best analysis I have seen include a “criticality energy release” i.e., a thermal event driven by the nuclear reaction that is less than a full fissile explosion.

      I agree, there was a lot more to the test and failure than I included. I didn’t want t to get into the forensics of that too deeply.

      My point was that had the KGB not covered up this design flaw, the conditions needed to cause the explosion would not (should not) have been allowed to happen.

      1. J, your point was clear.

        But you can also attribute it to “the plan is always right” nature of the Soviet system.

        The conditions were way outside the perimeters of the test experiment, they continued on anyway because of “the plan”.

      2. Graphite has strange properties when used as a moderator in nuclear reactors. When it is irradiated by neutrons, it actually stores energy in the damaged carbon bonds of the graphite. If the graphite is not annealed (usually accomplished in graphite moderated reactors by following a shut down protocol), the energy can be rapidly released raising the temperature of the the graphite (Wigner effect). Also, with out the cooling water the molten fuel elements will be over 2000 deg F. Between the two, and add in the CO produced by the steam graphite reaction there is more than enough energy to ignite the graphite.

        1. That is interesting. I’ll have to look into that some more.

          I got my first taste of the nuclear world in a project using strong nitric acid to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recover the un-fissiled U-235 and useful radiological byproducts. That was back when I was still a chemical engineer.

          When I became a metallurgist I got into neutron diffraction for crystallography.

          I was involved in doing laser cladding of steel with niobium and tungsten for reactor use. Trying to come up with lower cost components that uses steel for structural rigidity while reducing the issues of neutron embrittlement.

          Then I got involved with a consulting project for Fermilab in helping design components for inside the LBNE and testing them in the current Neutrino Emitter. Generating neutrinos in the target hall created a radioactive soup of stray subatomic particles, ionizing radiation, and the byproducts of ionized air, which breaks down many lower cost construction materials and building the LBNE out of solid Zircaloy was not in the budget.

          So the goings on deep inside of the reactor were a little past what I was doing. Most of my knowledge comes from the effect of putting metal into a reactor.

          1. Right up there with “Don’t lick the pits.” (I always wondered about the story behind that sign…)

  5. This is the same kind of thinking that caused the BSG show to go off the rails and turn into the
    “terrorists are great” show.

  6. As the old joke goes, “frogs with no legs are deaf”.
    Just because one knows the history doesn’t mean they get the right lessons from it.

    1. I hadn’t heard that before, but will have to remember it for the future.

      Please curb your trendlines…

  7. I guess I’ll be figuring out a way to creativity aquire it as I’m definitely not going to do anything that might put money in that dude’s pocket.

  8. J.Kb., your post has left me speechless. I too love this show and see it for what it is: an indictment of the system! It never ceases to amaze me that these “people” with TDS don’t recognize the totalitarians in their own midst — the Obamas, the Clintons, the Sanders — yet can project on Trump, and others, the very qualities that their people have in spades! I’m telling you, progressivism/liberalism is a serious mental illness that has absolutely no cure. It’s mind-boggling to me…

    1. My wife had a comment to that effect during the 2016 election. It was something like, “The Democrats keep painting this election as a choice between good and evil. Republicans seem to see it more along the lines of the lesser of two weasels.”

  9. Heck, if Joss Whedon can create the libertarian space cowboy character of Mal Reynolds who in Serenity takes a firm stance /against/ the idea of the state making people “better”….

    Then /yeah/ Hollywood folk can make characters and themes that are extremely against their personal values.

    Heck there’s also a larger part of #2 for the writer, even /if/ he is a true believer, that doesn’t mean he isn’t immune from peer pressure of his friends, *especially* if those icky proles use his work as an example of how callous, environmentally damaging, and evil communism is.

    He /has/ to come up with a narrative to explain why his show doesn’t /really/ give ammunition to his political rivals.

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