Anyone can forget meeting a senator three times – there are so many of them! – but can you imagine the Republican mockery if Al Gore had said he’d never met Dick Cheney . . . and then it turned out they had met three times?

The daily Republican outrage – the taunting – if President Gore had let Bin Laden get away at Tora Bora and still hadn’t gotten him three years, and so many thousands of dead and maimed Americans, later?

Ah well. Our long national nightmare is almost over. And if you’re not yet feeling pride in the Democratic challenger, you’ve not yet taken 90 minutes to see GOING UPRIVER.


Not that hiring a new CEO will be a panacea . . .


Somehow I figured things couldn’t be quite as rosy as Michael Axelrod suggested in ‘debunking’ Graham Allison’s book, Nuclear Terrorism. (Again, I invite you to click here to see what a 10-kiloton nuclear blast would do to your zip code.)

Not to say I know an isotope from an audiotape. But somehow these e-mails rebutting Michael’s view strike me as likely to be closer to the truth:

Andrew Klossner: ‘Grind Plutonium-235 into dust, spread it on the wind, get a gram into each person’s lung, and we’re all dead in a year. ☺ That’s why plutonium plant workers wear so much protective gear. As for those Russians, Chernobyl had built-in safeguards. And only hydrogen bombs contain DT gas. Reliable old fission bombs (like the ones we dropped on Japan) are just radioactive metal wrapped in explosive. You can only destroy a city center, not an entire city, but that’s enough for a terror mission. Terrorists won’t get A-bombs from a government, they’ll get them from a few greedy arsenal guards. May have already.’ ☺

Ed Bessman: ‘A low-tech fission bomb to be deployed in a car, shipping container, or even a suitcase is easy enough to make. ☺ The main barrier is getting a couple kilos of enriched plutonium. It is quite difficult to make a portable bomb that won’t kill the bombmaker, but a suicide terrorist isn’t concerned about any of this. Indeed with enough plutonium on hand, the problem is making sure you don’t inadvertently reach critical mass. It isn’t rocket science.‘ ☺

Walter Willis: ‘Michael Axelrod is wrong on all counts. Dirty bombs are dispersals of highly radioactive materials. The deadly affect to you comes not from your being irradiated from the outside, but by your inhaling the dust and being slowly killed from the inside. ☺ The Russians have already admitted that they have lost control of many radioisotope thermal sources. You are looking at something that will…well, I won’t tell anybody how to turn a radioisotope source into a really, really, efficient dissemination system. You don’t need to know. But this is industrial design that any chemical engineer can handle.

‘Michael Axelrod writes: Almost no country would risk giving or selling a nuclear weapon to terrorists. . . . That leaves the terrorist themselves getting the material, designing, assembling a bomb, smuggling and detonating it. All this without testing? Do you think the terrorist are smarter than the Manhattan Project Team? And they did test. While this scenario is not impossible because modern technology has made things easier, the actual threat is likely very small. Wrong. The software we used to build the first liquid deuterium fusion bomb was run on computers with gears. No kidding. Your watch has more firepower than those computers had. All the technologies used in fission and fusion weapons have gotten dramatically cheaper over the last sixty years.’

☞ I have inserted smiley ☺ faces ☺ because I think it’s very hard to get depressed or anxious ☺ when you see ☺☺ them (assuming your browser displays them).

But it does sound as if young Professor Axelrod may be unduly sanguine on the subject of nuclear terrorism.☺☺☺☺☺☺


Caroline Carlton: ‘There has been much made in the press recently about women supporting Bush. But by supporting stem cell research, John Kerry wins my vote hands down. Maybe Bush doesn’t know it but October is breast cancer awareness month. Treating breast cancer, and many cancers, with chemotherapy and radiation often destroys bone marrow. Using stem cells to recreate bone marrow would give doctors the ability to use stronger treatment to destroy the cancer. Stem cell research could lead to creating cells that destroy the cancer themselves. With continuing research, scientists believe that tissue and organs damaged by cancer could be replaced by using stem cells. Stem cell research is a promising tool to be used against breast cancer. Please urge your readers to consider this point when casting their ballots in November.’


Or, wherever you are, just listen to it at your desk with headphones while you’re pretending to work until it’s time to quit and see ‘Going Upriver’ –


One of the smarter cookies in my jar recommends an unusual real estate investment trust, symbol ARC, that, selling just above $14, yields 8.8%. There is risk here, but less, she feels, than the market has built into its price. For no more than 5% of your nest egg, this could make sense. I bought some.


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