Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: May 21, 2010 Archive

The Ultimate Repellant

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 21, 2010 by Dale Connelly (40 Comments)
Filed under: Science

Radio Heartland has tickets to another sold out concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and singer/songwriter Jake Armerding will perform on Sunday, May 23rd at 7:30 pm. We'll keep entries open until 1pm today, and will notify winners by e-mail later this afternoon.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

According to "Into Eternity", a new documentary by Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen, the Finns are going to spend ten years building a long term repository for nuclear waste that is designed to be self supporting, meaning nobody has to monitor it; will last for 100,000 years, meaning it has to withstand the next ice age; and safe from the curious investigations of humans or whatever life form may follow us, meaning its location should be obscure, or at least eminently forgettable.

Think of this as a challenge in reverse marketing - the task is to build a place where nobody will want to go.

It's not as simple as making a "Keep Out" sign. What material will be readable 100,000 years from now? What language will be spoken? Finnish? Are there enough vowels on Earth to sustain it for that long? And no matter the language, "Keep Out" always translates as "What Do You Think They Stashed In Here?" No, you can't count on signs. The place itself has to be inherently repellent to life forms. That's not easy to do.

Of course, we've already created such a place with Brookdale Mall.

But the Finns don't share our vast experience with consumer goods and market research. When it comes to drawing a crowd, the American marketplace has tested billions of ideas. We've anointed many winners and a million times as many losers. This history of striving and falling short is our advantage.

When we finally muster the political will to build our own site for long term nuclear waste , we should draw on our collection of spectacular failures and surround the dangerous radioactive byproducts with shops, themed restaurants and family attractions that are proven crowd displeasers. Anyone trying to get close to our radioactive reserves of gene mutating detritus should have to vault over a gauntlet of unpopular cars and struggle past an armada of disparaged appliances. Their eyes and ears (if they have eyes and ears) should be bombarded with despised movies, widely ignored television shows, and repugnant radio stations playing completely forgettable music. This is our armor - a market tested protective shield for those who follow us.

We have to use what we know for the good of all human and creaturekind. Not only must we bury our nuclear waste in the Earth, we'll must submerge it under a mountain of consumer items that we the people can't remember or simply do not like.

I can nominate a few anti-attractions - Mervyn's California, the Chrysler K car, the Salad Spinner and the soundtrack to the Broadway production of Martin Guerre.

What else could we use to keep people away from the nuclear waste?

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