Monday, March 07, 2005

In Which Auntie Suzanne Has a Thought

Man, I love the information age. A few minutes ago I had a thought: All of the Americans who say America should be more like France and the rest of Europe, all of those Americans are against nuclear power--doesn't France get most of its energy from nuclear power?

Within a couple of minutes, I'd typed "France + nuclear power" into Google, and an article by Frontline producer Jon Palfreman called "Why the French Like Nuclear Energy" came up second from the top. It seems to be a few years old, so there's probably more up-to-date information out there, but it answered my question. Yes, France gets about 76% of its energy from nuclear power. It also addresses why the French are friendlier to nuclear power than Americans. Briefly, the French trust the government and large, centralized projects more than Americans do, the French need nuclear power more than Americans do, and the French think more highly of scientists than Americans do. Also the government put a lot of effort into getting people to consider the benefits of nuclear energy, rather than just the problems.

Now, I read through that article very quickly, so I may not be summing up as well as I should, but that's not the point. The point is that I can wonder about something and, assuming I'm near a computer, in a few minutes I can have the answer I'm looking for. It's great to be able to find information so quickly. You'd think I'd be used to it after all these years, but every once it still strikes me as amazing.

Then again, I was in a Wal-Mart a few months ago, pointing out some buttons to my husband, and saying wasn't it amazing the stuff we take for granted, here's buttons with intricate swirling designs on it that would have been so amazing to our Viking forebears that they would have been proud to wear them as an ornament, and here we look at them as nothing, just some ordinary something sold for 67 cents and hanging on a piece of pasteboard at Wal-Mart. And I really was amazed at the great detail we can put onto small buttons--so gratuitously and so cheaply. It's possible that I am easily impressed.

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