The Self Made Pundit

I'm just the guy that can't stand cant. ___________

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Thursday, February 20, 2003
THE DEPARTMENT OF DUCK AND COVER: As a Baby Boomer who is not immune to pangs of nostalgia for the 1950s, I want to thank the Bush administration for recycling the wisdom of the “Duck and Cover” campaign of civil defense. The spirit of Bert the Turtle (who advised 1950s schoolchildren to duck and cover) permeates the Homeland Security website, which actually recommends ducking under your desk if there is an explosion (see illustration no. 1). (Link via Eschaton.)

Besides advising us all to hide under our desks, the Homeland Security website has many more helpful tips on how to survive (well, how to increase your chances of surviving, to be more precise) nuclear blasts, radioactive explosions and other terrorist threats.

Unfortunately, since some people are prone to panic at the first trace of radiation, they are likely to forget the commonsensical measures we can take to increase our chances of survival from the negligible to the infinitesimal. I heartily recommend for everyone to go to the Homeland Security website and print out such helpful pointers as these:

If There is a Radiation Threat or "Dirty Bomb"

To limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about shielding, distance and time.

• Shielding: If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the radiation will be absorbed, and you will be exposed to less.

• Distance: The farther away you are away from the blast and the fallout the lower your exposure.

• Time: Minimizing time spent exposed will also reduce your risk.

Since this is a very serious matter, let’s review these sensible safety tips:

First, there is Shielding. All things considered, it is better to have a wall between you and a radioactive blast. If there is a radioactive explosion in an adjoining room, make sure you close the door. (See illustration no. 3.)

Second, there is Distance. The greater the distance between you and a radioactive blast, the better. If you learn of a radioactive explosion, walk away from – not toward – the explosion.

Third, there is Time. If you experience a radioactive blast, do not dawdle, waiting to see if the debris will begin to glow. Immediately start walking quickly – and remember, you want to go away from, not toward, the blast. (See the Distance tip.)

To be fair to the Bush administration (there I go again, revealing my wimpy reasonable liberal roots and foreclosing my dreams of hosting a liberal talk radio program), the Homeland Security website does have some useful advice (albeit on the level of public service commercials) on matters such as what to do if you experience an explosion, a fire or are trapped in debris.

Much of the website, however, appears to have been written by Dick Cheney after being confined in one of his undisclosed locations for a few days too many. Bush wants Americans to believe that his administration is dealing with the problem of security. Confronting the threat of domestic terrorism, however, requires far more than advising people to run away from nuclear explosions. The Homeland Security website is a perfect illustration of the Bush administration’s penchant for devoting more effort to creating the appearance of tackling problems than actually dealing with them.