Spring flowers, golfing again, and a new question: is nuclear war good for us?
by Rob Tiller
It is well and truly spring! I highly recommend getting outside and looking at what’s blooming. These pictures are ones I took on Saturday at Duke Gardens in Durham. In the native plants area, the wildflowers did not disappoint! The tulips were a little past their peak, but still riotously colorful.
I read recently that learning new sports could slow down the inevitable mental decline of aging. The idea seemed to be that new physical activities would stimulate new brain activity. It sounded plausible, but time-consuming and potentially embarrassing.
It might be more productive and fun to improve at a sport at which you are currently mediocre. Anyhow, that’s my working theory, as a new golf season beckons. The last few months I played very little, owing to a series of minor injuries and uncongenial weather. But this week I resumed my golf lessons with Jessica at GolfTec, and started practicing again, ever hopeful.
It’s a shame that Trump is such an avid golfer; it reflects badly on the game. But the game will survive, and so will we. I hope. My confidence was somewhat shaken by recent reporting by Jane Mayer on the Trump circle. Her recent New Yorker piece focused on Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire with wacky right-wing ideas and enthusiasm for politics. He and his family funded Bannon and Breitbart News, assumed a leading role in Trump’s presidential campaign, and are now directly involved in presidential decision-making.
It’s not surprising that there are super rich people with nutty ideas, but this seems new: super rich loonys more or less controlling the presidency. The Mercers have promoted the “science” ideas of a bizarre figure named Arthur Robinson who champions the nonsense of climate change denialism. Again, we know such people exist. But new to me was his idea that nuclear war could be beneficial to human health.
In an interview on Fresh Air (transcribed here), Mayer said that Robinson and Mercer believe that nuclear radiation is good for people, and actually benefitted the Japanese who were subjected to the first nuclear attacks.
In this political season, we’ve learned that there is no idea so crazy that it cannot be adopted by certain large groups of Americans. So there may already be a significant subpopulation that believes that nuclear war might be a good thing after all, with some of them in the White House. That’s scary! We need to reread Hiroshima by John Hersey, and discuss the reality of the nuclear peril, and try to contain this existentially bad idea before it spreads.