Useful Stereotypes slams French male drivers.   She is one of the most prolific hitchhikers i have ever met.  ”French drivers are the worst in Europe, most of them just want sex from their riders.” [rough quote]  As a gifted polyglot she has an interesting response to inappropriate advances from French and other drivers.  When they start asking stupid questions about wanting to have sex with her, she shifts to another language they dont understand, which shifts their frustration from sexual to linguistic, and usually results in the rest of the ride being quiet and more respectful.

Some politically correct bone inside me jumped when she made this generalization.   I dont want sweeping statements about national or ethnic groups to be largely true, i want the world to be more complex and perhaps more fair than this.  But i can’t challenge her findings, she is on the road all the time, hitching relentlessly across Europe and beyond, she has hundreds of data points to draw from and as far as i can tell no incentive at all to misrepresent the French.

Slavs are pessimistic.  Of course not all of them, but as contrasted to Yanks or western Europeans – who are generally more upbeat and hopeful, the Slavs, likely because of their history, have a more dour world view.  My old boss, Jan Beranek, is one of these pessimistic types.  He was bemused by my contention that one only needed two things to beat a nuclear power plant: To be brilliant and to be lucky.  ”Czech environmentalists are not lucky.” he told me once.  And indeed he and i worked to stop the Temelin reactor for over 5 years together only to loose it at the very end to split decision of the ruling government, we lost by one vote.


Jan Haverkamps fine work in Bulgaria



So i was surprised and extremely pleased when i asked him recently about the global prospect for a nuclear renaissance and he replied “I am optimistic it will fail.”  For perspective sake, Honza (as his friends call him) was the lead Greenpeace International Anti-nuclear campaigner until they promoted him to run their global energy campaign.  And while Czech environmentalists may not be lucky, this one is certainly brilliant.

And today the first part of his optimism is appearing well founded.  The Bush Administration approved $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of new reactors, which turns out to be not really enuf for 3.  The Department of Energy ranked all the licensing applications which have been submitted to them (13 by the DOEs most recent count).  And the top two projects were offered loan guarantees.

Number two on this list was Calvert Cliffs in Maryland.  Just last month DOE promised $7.5 billion in guarantees to start construction of a new reactor of French design.  Just yesterday the US partner pulled the plug on the project.  This is a huge victory for the US anti-nuclear movement and my fine friends at NIRS and Beyond Nuclear, who worked hard to kill this uneconomic and dangerous project.   And to quote yesterdays Washington Post article:

  • “The decision by Constellation deals a blow to the idea of a U.S. nuclear renaissance.”

An idea who’s time to die has hopefully come just in time.