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Nevada license tags depict atomic blast
April 27, 2002 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Nevada license tags depict atomic blast
Ugh. Am I the only one sickened by this? Sometimes I'm glad that I don't live in the USA.
posted by Mwongozi (75 comments total)

 
Would you prefer Vegas?
posted by darukaru at 1:34 PM on April 27, 2002


I'm not, I agree with the statement at the end of the article: "I think Nevadans think testing was patriotic. It was done for the good of the country during the Cold War."
posted by ArkIlloid at 1:34 PM on April 27, 2002


The plate also features the equation e=mc2. Albert Einstein would have hated to see the formula that he discovered being used in conjunction with something celebrating nuclear weapons testing, when he was so vohemantly against them.
posted by Mwongozi at 1:40 PM on April 27, 2002


all of USA defined by license plates and a book? this is starting to sound like Jean Baudrillard's writing.
posted by greyscale at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2002


Would you prefer we all just try to forget it? This license plate doesnt seem to be in any way a celebration - just stating a historical fact. Its good and healthy to confront your history.
posted by vacapinta at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2002


So far.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:45 PM on April 27, 2002


I think they should have gone with the booze and hookers design myself.
posted by BenNewman at 2:04 PM on April 27, 2002


Fuzzy dice. The plates should have fuzzy dice. And a new law should be enacted forcing Nevadans to have fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror.

Maybe you can get vanity plates and have "BOMDIS" or something to make your point if you don't like them.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2002


Sometimes I'm glad that I don't live in the USA.

That's okay, with that attitude I'm also glad you don't live here.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 2:40 PM on April 27, 2002


Oh, please, rwbs. Enough with that crap.

Well, I was gonna say..

It's a part of stone age his-to-ree!
posted by y2karl at 2:46 PM on April 27, 2002


we want those euro license plates: the ones that are legible! who cares what picture is on your license plate? we would be lucky if we could just get decent typography on our licenses or currency, or anything here in the states for that matter. and isn't it truly bizarre that a political statement is an option offered by the highest coersive force?
posted by greyscale at 2:51 PM on April 27, 2002


These plates note a historical fact, and one which is important to the history of the specific state they are issued in. They are no different than Massachusetts plates that portray a minuteman, or Illinois plates that proclaim "Land of Lincoln".

I reserve my outrage for when license plates are made to broadcast a particular political or ideological stance.
posted by yhbc at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2002


This license plate doesnt seem to be in any way a celebration - just stating a historical fact.

You wouldn't object to an Alabama plate depicting a black man hanging from a tree?
posted by plaino at 2:54 PM on April 27, 2002


-issues pre-prepared response which anticipated plaino-

Symbols are the product of context. To give an example, if Nevada had had a long history of harboring Nazis and decided to use a nazi symbol on their license plates, I, like most, would be strongly opposed to it. Why? I associate the swastika with pro-nazism and with irrational ethnic hatred.

Here are my associations from the license plate:

mc2 - physics, einstein
atomic symbol - atomic energy (slightly pro-atomic)
mushroom cloud - anti-nuclear

The mushroom cloud is in almost all contexts that I have seen it used to remind us of the horrors of atomic weapons - i see it on bumper stickers accompanied by some pithy quote about the end of the world.

Pro-nuclear people do not use the cloud. If they did, I might feel differently.
posted by vacapinta at 2:57 PM on April 27, 2002


You're right, Mongwozi, living in the USA with Michael Moore and listening to his tepid, ham-fisted "politics" is a burden, makes me sometimes wish I didn't live here either. Would you mind terribly if we shipped him off to England? (The fact that you even linked to him to prove your point pretty much says it all).

And of course we all know that England has no history of colonization, pillage, genocide, snobbery, corrupt government or war. So in your mind England is justified in throwing stones, eh?
posted by Karl at 3:05 PM on April 27, 2002


I'm not. It seems that people need to chill out.
posted by neosiv at 3:10 PM on April 27, 2002


Hell, I want one of these, and I don't even live in Nevada.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 3:14 PM on April 27, 2002


you sure that's a cloud and not just a multi-coloured mushroom?

dong_resin! we need a ruling!
posted by jcterminal at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2002


I want one too, though I don't want one badly enough to move to Nevada (that is until the state sanctioned prostitution houses are allowed to have male hookers).

Oh and what Karl said. I'd rather live in a vulgar, callous place that has cool atomic license plates than in a vulgar, callous husk of a failed monarchical empire.
posted by evanizer at 3:38 PM on April 27, 2002


Half of America's teenage boys are so getting one of those. Hell, me too. Hilarious!
posted by furiousthought at 3:41 PM on April 27, 2002


I love the international brotherhood that we share here...

(and if you send us Michael Moore I'll scream and scream and scream)
posted by nedrichards at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2002


Mwongozi - Einstein couldn't have been too opposed to nuclear testing. He was instrumental in getting the US state department to take the potential of nuclear weapons seriously. Without his name recognition (and personal visits to the White House) attached to the project, we might not have developed the weapons before wars end.

What you link doesn't say we shouldn't have developed these weapons or we shouldn't test them. What it says is the destructive power of this force is so great that nations need to be open with each other. Openness is a primary principal of the scientific community and what you are seeing are the open principals of science brought up against the closed, hidden principals of the nation state. It is not remorse over the development of the weapons themselves. There may be some of that, but I don't see it in the quotes you link to. If anything, the quotes seem to support the idea of remembering the destructive power in as many ways as possible -- including on license plates.

For anybody who hasn't read it, I can't recommend highly enough The Making of the Atomic Bomb. It is a remarkable book that has something for everybody.
posted by willnot at 3:59 PM on April 27, 2002


What burns me is not the pro-nuclear stuff, or even the anti-nuclear stuff; it's the SHUT UP SHUT UP MY FINGERS ARE IN MY EARS I CAN'T HEAR YOU! types.
On the side of the pro-nukes, you've got some impressive improvements in reactor tech and nuclear powered spaceflight. On the anti-nuke side you have smart arguments against reckless contamination--and that's where you'll also find brilliant ideas on cleaning up some of the really nasty messes of the past.
But all the last group have to contribute is stupid fear--calling them "Luddites" is a misnomer, as is "victims of future shock". They believe ONLY in "out of sight, out of mind" and that NICE people never talk about or listen to things that aren't NICE, and that people that do are EVIL.

They are truly herd animals. And they vote.
posted by kablam at 4:27 PM on April 27, 2002


Am I the only one sickened by this?

I'm sickened more by the ugly design than by the content. And they should say "Nevada--it's a blast!"
posted by kirkaracha at 4:33 PM on April 27, 2002


I'm with willnot: Mwongozi, either you're very ignorant of the history you're invoking, or you're deliberately distorting facts. Einstein's letter to FDR was instrumental in getting the US to develop nuclear weapons, because Einstein -- as many European scientists did -- knew very well that Hitler had good scientists working for him, either as fascists themselves or as "apolitical" types (especially before the war), and that they had made progress that could have led to a Nazi bomb.

Later in life he took a more pacifist position, but nobody was more aware of the importance of his scientific achievements to this more practical one than Einstein himself.

Beyond that, he was certainly also aware that "his equation" merely described the physics of the universe. In that respect, it is a physical property of nature itself, not something sprung from the creativity of his brain. It is as tied to the atomic bomb as gravity is tied to rocketry.

Notably, his letter describes a bomb delivered by boat and blown up in a port. The advent of the ICBM seemingly made that scenario obsolete, and I know it seemed quaint when I was growing up. We know better now.
posted by dhartung at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2002


i want one so bad....i may move to las vegas....
posted by billybob at 4:48 PM on April 27, 2002


Mwongozi: That link doesn't make it seem like he was against them, rather that he wanted people to archive peace so they would not need to be used. It certainly doesn't say anything about his feelings towards testing them.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2002


I should backtrack and point out that "instrumental" is the wrong word in regard to the government decision to build the bomb (I wrote from memory; and I was just reading about Groves and Fermi, too). He was, however, in the thick of the scientific effort to persuade the government to build one and prevent others from doing so first.
posted by dhartung at 4:55 PM on April 27, 2002


Nevada--it's a blast!

That is funny as hell.

These license plates will be moving briskly on ebay soon, right next to the Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts. The word Nevada looks like it was printed using the Golden Nugget Casino font.
posted by iconomy at 5:00 PM on April 27, 2002


Yeah, I don't think it's a bad design, really. In fact, I really like it. Sort of retro, really.

On the other hand, I apparently don't have a very good design sense, or so I've been told.

And since it celebrates the testing, and not the use of the bomb, I don't think it's in bad taste, either.
posted by crunchland at 5:01 PM on April 27, 2002


Mwgonzi - The hawk who presided over the Vietnam War, former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, shares your viewpoint on nuclear weapons, as do many people at the Center for Defense Information. Is this license plate celebrating n-weapons testing, or helping the population work through its ongoing denial regarding exterminism?
posted by sheauga at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2002


You wouldn't object to an Alabama plate depicting a black man hanging from a tree

That would be a totally different situation. Placing such an image on a license plate would be a celebration of death and hate.
On the other hand, the mushroom cloud means more than the horrible death of hundreds of thousands of Japanese or even the end of WII. Agree or disagree with the dropping of the A-bomb and/or nuclear power, one cannot deny the impact of the development and testing of the A-bomb.
On the day that the first A-bomb was successfully tested the world changed forever: we entered the Nuclear Age. The license place is merely recalling the moment we entered into a new epoch of world history.
posted by Bag Man at 5:48 PM on April 27, 2002


Mwongozi,

The only hate and disgusting material in this thread seems to coming from you. I don't know where you are from, but I am sure your country has done some pretty bad stuff too. Please, no country is so perfect as to allow its citizens (or is it subjects?) to take the moral high ground like you have.
Further, it is ironic that your "Sometimes I'm glad that I don't live in the USA" link leads to Michael Moore's homepage. Of all of the American pundits that I know, he seems to be the one who loves to be in the USA the most. I can say this because of his tireless fight to make sure all Americans enjoy their rightful Constitutional guaranties. He fights so the USA is a better place inwhich to live. I don’t know if Michael Moore would join you in your ignorant and blind condemnation of the Nevada license plate (see my last post), but I do know he’s glad to be in America.
posted by Bag Man at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2002


You're all missing the point of contention here.

We're fighting to keep nuclear waste out of the state. We've executed the first-ever governor's veto of a presidential decision. We've began an intensive multi-state advertising campaign against Yucca Mountain.

The point of contention is: why are we doing this, if we're celebrating our history as America's nuclear wasteland? It's contradictory to our state's political position on nuclear waste.

I'm also quite stunned that those who have said that the design of a plate is a mere reminder of a fact of history. Nuclear testing in Nevada is not a mere fact of history. It was a hotly contested issue, and not something that I don't want most people associating Nevada with. It's akin to the Confederate battle flag and Alabama.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2002


I graduated from the University of Chicago, which, among other things, is known for being the site of the first sustained nuclear reaction. We had a t-shirt there that the students loved --

It depicted the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion, with the caption, "The University of Chicago: Where the End of the World Began!"

The fact is, as bad a thing as it was -- it is still part of our history and by displaying the connection, we are celebrating our history, not celebrating the mushroom cloud.
posted by LuxFX at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2002


On the other hand, the mushroom cloud means more than the horrible death of hundreds of thousands of Japanese or even the end of WII.

I think this is the key point here. To some people, it is precisely a symbol of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and those people have the right to be sickened by what they perceive to be a celebration. On the other hand, others don't equate depiction with celebration--any more than Billie Holliday singing "Strange Fruit" is a celebration of lynchings--or they see the mushroom cloud symbol itself as representing a wider range of things, or, "shockingly," don't have an unequivocally negative reaction to the dropping of the bomb.

These differences are not a problem. They can always lead to debate. The problem is when people think that simply being "sickened" is a worthwhile response, or that glibly stating an emotion suffices to count as a political position, or that waving an icon of...something...such as Einstein in our faces should pass as argument. Why are you sickened, Mwongozi, and why should it matter where you live or want to live? You've elicited all kinds of arguments about what people are guessing your position to be, but you cleverly, and trollishly, haven't told us yourself what it is. Why is that?
posted by rodii at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2002


Washington DC's plate says "Taxation without Representation".
posted by jennak at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2002


Mwongozi, if you dislike the nuke plate, you'd probably even like New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" about as much. They're just license plates, no nuclear materials were used in the manufacture of them.
posted by MAYORBOB at 6:48 PM on April 27, 2002


Putting the word "atomic" next to something was once a standard marketing technique. Sort of the "e" of the 50's. You had your Atomic Burgers, Atomic Used Cars - and of course, Atomic Fireballs. Atomic energy was the symbol of American technology and power in the 50's, so it was a popular symbol.

Of course, in the 60's, yet another use was found for the old 'shroom: album cover subject.

Hey, a little nukey never hurt anybody. As far as license plates go, it think it looks kinda cool.
posted by groundhog at 7:27 PM on April 27, 2002


When I first heard this story I thought it a joke. Go figure.
posted by onegoodmove at 7:32 PM on April 27, 2002


Obligatory nitpicking correction:

Massachusetts license plates don't have a Minuteman on them. They have a stupid, meaningless slogan - "The spirit of America" - that somebody in the last Dukakis administration thought up.
posted by agaffin at 8:09 PM on April 27, 2002


live free or... we'll nuke your ass
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 8:15 PM on April 27, 2002


michigan's great lakes splendor depicts a nuclear fireball erupting beneath the big mac set against the orange sky of nuclear winter. it rocks.
posted by quonsar at 8:24 PM on April 27, 2002


er, that would be big mac...
posted by quonsar at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2002


I think it would be more appropriate for the great state of Nevada to change their slogan from "The Battle Born State" to "Nevada: First In Fallout" or "Nevada: America's Radioactive Wasteland".
posted by mark13 at 8:50 PM on April 27, 2002


Granted, I'm new to Nevada, but I'm not sure that the Test Site license plate is necessarily a bad thing. Of course, cruising past the historical foundation's info site at the Las Vegas Review Journal (the main foundation site seems to be down or nonfunctional), I doubt we're going to come at this from the perspective. Nonetheless, I think it's something worth commemorating, if not celebrating, especially if it brings out some of the lesser known aspects of the test site, such as the exteme indifference shown by the military and government towards local populaces and test subjects. Sadly, my resident test site expert is out of the house right now, or I'd dig up more specifics. However, if you're interested, I believe that there is a very excellent Frontline episode that deals with the test site and the reparations movement for its workers (link doesn't do justice, but it was all I could find on quick notice).
posted by claxton6 at 8:52 PM on April 27, 2002


You're right, Mongwozi, living in the USA with Michael Moore and listening to his tepid, ham-fisted "politics" is a burden, makes me sometimes wish I didn't live here either. I live less then 2000 yards from where MM went to High School. No matter his views, he was one of the youngest elected officals in american history. He was elected (albeit local) by a city filled with other cities elected officals. (our police are A-nal) I'm not hip on all mikes done, but he's good at what he does-you wanna take on the worlds largest industrial corp? I mean, dont you see the comedy in the Nevada plate-a mushroom cloud, as oppossed to what, mug shot of benny seigel, a chicken ranch, "fuzzy dice"? (i like that) or maybe area51 and a nice 3 by 9 of art bell.

this is my take on Nevada from the late great Frank O'Hara.
(way outta context)

..."if your going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. There's nothing metaphysical about it. Unless, of course, you flatter yourself into thinking that what you're experiencing is "yearning".

-from, 'Personism: A Manifesto'
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 PM on April 27, 2002


I think the euro-guy's sickness from this probably stems somewhat from a lack of understanding about US license plates. We have all kinds of crazy plates here -- in Pennsylvania, for instance, you can get plates supporting DARE, zoo animals, all kinds of crazy stuff.

It's not like that's the "official" state of Nevada plate. Here's the official NV DMV site -- they have tons of weird plate designs.
posted by ph00dz at 9:21 PM on April 27, 2002


clav, I love you, as always. Personism is my bible. If someone's chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don't turn around and shout, "Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep."
posted by rodii at 9:27 PM on April 27, 2002


Obligatory nitpicky correction to agaffin's obligatory nitpicky correction: Actually, Mass National Guard license plates have (or at least used to have) a minuteman on them.
posted by dchase at 9:31 PM on April 27, 2002


You wouldn't object to an Alabama plate depicting a black man hanging from a tree?

Nice try at dragging race into this. Yawn.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:37 PM on April 27, 2002


Obligatory thanks to obligatory nitpicky correction to agaffin's obligatory nitpicky correction:

Thank you.

I knew I had seen them, but an hour or more of googling turned up no confirmation of my memory, leading to yet another of "those" episodes. I can go to bed at peace now, for a change.
posted by yhbc at 9:44 PM on April 27, 2002


sorry karl, you were being sarcastic, and i didnt read into it. sorry. Mein Gott in Himmel Rodii, i was just reading that an hour or so ago.exact.same.line. (didnt fit as well eh?) ((side head nod-MeTa- the ...1142, miguel lurker post))
posted by clavdivs at 10:07 PM on April 27, 2002


I want one of these plates.

I have visited the Trinity Site in New Mexico. I had originally planned to visit in 1985, as it was my chosen site for my undergraduate thesis project (architecture), but my arrangements through military connections to gain access fell through.

The site is accessible only twice a year. I was amazed at the number of people who go. Seeing families pose for a photograph with the ground zero marker is, perhaps, a little strange.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:49 PM on April 27, 2002


Why must every graphic scribble which is evenly remotely linked to 'The State' be strained through a dreary series of PC filters? It's a cool graphic. A retro blast from the past. Relax. Enjoy. Be amused.

Looking for hidden significances is great, but doing it too often can cause blindness.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:15 PM on April 27, 2002


Its good and healthy to confront your history.

On license plates? Ram that '63 Chevy.
posted by liam at 12:57 AM on April 28, 2002


I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned that what's really sickening is the way they view nukes in Pakistan. Over there, the mushroom cloud is as common as a cross or the golden arches is in America. They've got fountains shaped like mushroom clouds, pouring out water. Families have their pictures taken in front of these fountains. In fact, that's not sickening, that's scary.
posted by MarkO at 4:14 AM on April 28, 2002


Obligatory Massachusetts general nitpickiness:

I should have said the Minuteman was not on plates *available to the general public.* For several decades, in fact, Massachusetts license plates were the most boring in the country because of the great cod controversy of 1928:

"It was in 1928 that a depiction of a codfish, symbol of the Massachusetts fishing industry, was the first picture to appear on a plate. The image, which resembled an oversized guppy more than a codfish, sparked controversy among local fishermen. After suffering one of the worst years in fishing history, the fishermen blamed the RMV for representing the cod swimming away from the word "Massachusetts" which was printed on the plates. "

From the thrilling RMV - History of the Plate
posted by agaffin at 9:43 AM on April 28, 2002


They are no different than Massachusetts plates that portray a minuteman, or Illinois plates that proclaim "Land of Lincoln".

except that minutemen & Lincoln are generally seen as symbolic of things we all agree are good - freedom for america & slavery ending. The mushroom cloud is a symbol of horror for many. Gas chambers are "part of the history" of Germany - should they put them on fucking license plates?

You wouldn't object to an Alabama plate depicting a black man hanging from a tree?

Nice try at dragging race into this. Yawn.


Maybe race is already involved. Or at least space, difference. Hiroshima & Nagasaki were among the most horrific events in human history. I'm sure we can all agree that if history had gone exactly the same way up until last fall, at which time the terrorists had gotten hold of an atomic bomb rather than some suicidal pilots, and had decided to hit Las Vegas (sin central) instead of NY, there's no way in hell such a design would ever be considered. But since it's just a bunch of Japs, let's embrace our victorious history.

I am in no way suggesting we forget what happened. But putting things on license plates is a cute, light-hearted way to commemorate them. It is absolutely the wrong place for a mushroom cloud and I'm pretty depressed that I'm in such a minority on this.
posted by mdn at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2002


*cough-mineshaftgap-cough*
posted by clavdivs at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2002


I'm sorry, I'm not fluent in snarky internet lingo. Can you just say what you mean?
posted by mdn at 12:46 PM on April 28, 2002


Calm down, mdn, it's just Metafilter.
posted by rodii at 12:55 PM on April 28, 2002


But since it's just a bunch of Japs, let's embrace our victorious history.

I had no idea any Japanese were killed during the atomic testing in Nevada! You learn something new on the Internet every day.
posted by kindall at 1:48 PM on April 28, 2002


mdn-To draw a link from a mushroom cloud straight to the japanese...it doesnt fit. yes, the japanese are the only victims of the bomb, but in your argument, the cloud becomes a symbol for just that, the bombing of japan...not the cold war, not a new era of weapons that can etch the last shadows of humans upon concrete. a more proper symbol to represent the japanese bombings would be that, the last shadow. 'Japs?' thats not snarky? My father was at Pearl, 8 yr old kid hunkered in some bunker. He was raised to HATE the japanese during the war. But he did not teach me this. I spent two years studying japanese history and culture in school and turned down an a chance to move there for a year. I know a little about the culture. I know what they did to china, vietnam (indochine) cambodia, burma, phillipi...and on and on. oh and heres a clue, LINCOLN DID NOT FREE THE SLAVES. "hit Las Vegas (sin central)" what the heck is that, huh. Vegas is just as corrupt as any state, just less bullshit about it. and heres something for you to goggle on, the minutemen did not free us from the British, it was Washington and the French (thanks france) mdn- if you may feel slammed well...we all get slammed, it is a learning experience. I think your intentions are good and you put effort into your post.
posted by clavdivs at 7:00 PM on April 28, 2002


Speaking of dead, a few years ago when our license plates in Maine featured a red (i.e. one that's been boiled alive) lobster, we used to brag (if that's the right word) that we had the only state plates honoring a dead animal.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:05 PM on April 28, 2002


mdn-To draw a link from a mushroom cloud straight to the japanese...it doesnt fit. yes, the japanese are the only victims of the bomb, but in your argument, the cloud becomes a symbol for just that, the bombing of japan...not the cold war, not a new era of weapons that can etch the last shadows of humans upon concrete. a more proper symbol to represent the japanese bombings would be that, the last shadow.

'Japs?' thats not snarky?
I think there's a difference between sarcasm and snarkiness, though that was probably unnecessary.

My father was at Pearl, 8 yr old kid hunkered in some bunker. He was raised to HATE the japanese during the war. But he did not teach me this. I spent two years studying japanese history and culture in school and turned down an a chance to move there for a year. I know a little about the culture. I know what they did to china, vietnam (indochine) cambodia, burma, phillipi...and on and on.

are you trying to imply that they deserved what they got? Or what?

oh and heres a clue, LINCOLN DID NOT FREE THE SLAVES.

I knew people were going to jump on this. I said, "generally symbolic of", and I think we can leave it there, because this thread isn't about the Emancipation Proclamation & what power it may or may not have had.

"hit Las Vegas (sin central)" what the heck is that, huh. Vegas is just as corrupt as any state, just less bullshit about it.

I only meant it's not ridiculously unrealistic to suggest that if crazy religious fundamentalists were going to pick a target, it might be las vegas. Not meant seriously.

and heres something for you to goggle on, the minutemen did not free us from the British, it was Washington and the French (thanks france)

again, symbolism, as I said earlier.

mdn- if you may feel slammed well...we all get slammed, it is a learning experience.

I've only made one comment so far, so not sure I can say I feel slammed. Looks like I will though. At this point I mostly just feel disappointed. Seriously: an american license plate with a representation of an inhuman deadly weapon, that has been used to kill hundreds of thousands of human beings, though few americans... just seems like a bad situation to me.
posted by mdn at 8:15 PM on April 28, 2002


Better a mushroom cloud than "Famous Potatoes."

And I would like to voice my objection to "Live Free or Die!" This horrific slogan --replete as it is with it's horrible contrasting images of the fullness and beauty of unfettered life and the finality of deceasement-- outright mentions death. And death is a bad, bad thing. We all know that. It's not like it's part of the human expericence or anything. We should just ignore it and never have a sense of humor about it.

Come to think of it, my uncle choked to death on potatoes, and I'm bettin' they were famous. Must that savage thorn be driven into my sensitive and unshielded corneas each time I venture into Idaho? Let's stick with smiley faces and something positive like "Be nice!" on license plates from now on.

Whine, whine, whine... How about a license plate with a picture of Michael Moore hanging from a tree? Would that be a compromise of sorts?
posted by umberto at 11:58 PM on April 28, 2002


Seriously: an american license plate with a representation of an inhuman deadly weapon,

I understand that that is how you see it. Others see it as a representation of a patriotic war effort. Still others see it as a representation of spectacular scientific and technological achievement - the final unlocking of the secrets of the atom.

I am reminded of those posters of Rosie the Riveter from WWII. For some of my friends, Rosie is a symbol of freedom and power for women. But, remember, Rosie and her colleagues were also part of the machinery of war. All symbols are tainted in some way.

I think many of us on this thread, though I can only speak for myself, probably over-reacted to Mwongozi's stupidly haughty and anti-american tone. His badly crafted post immediately put us on the defensive. Perhaps if someone more articulate had put together this FPP the discussion might have gone differently.
posted by vacapinta at 12:04 AM on April 29, 2002


Florida license plates used to have the slogan "Arrive Alive". However, this was seen as an insult to dead life-challenged people, and was removed to avoid a class-action lawsuit.
posted by groundhog at 5:44 AM on April 29, 2002


I said...vegas as a state-sorry nevada. i remember the joke 'michigan?...isn't that in detroit?.,
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 AM on April 29, 2002


"are you trying to imply that they deserved what they
got? Or what?"

no, not at all. MeFi has discussed this in depth and lets not discuss this now. No, they did not deserve the bomb(s) in my view. but larger heads prevail here as then. "what they got" was a country that had to ocupy her land (the only ones so far) Its almost a Catch-22. how do say were sorry when we cant, how do help rebuild a mighty country from ruins with respect. Me, after Uncle Joe shrugged off the bomb warning at Potsdam, i woulda lit that candle over some atoll or archipeligo with alot people watching and say"see what we can do? Please dont make me use this..." in some ways we did this.
"an american license plate with a representation"

you are presenting a representation when it is really a symbol and some us think it is ....funny, this symbol, funny because its typical of an stupid idea. mdn- i was patronizing, that is my crime. Thank you for replying and i agree in the serious, it is a bad idea.
posted by clavdivs at 9:02 AM on April 29, 2002


I forgot to respond to this:

mdn-To draw a link from a mushroom cloud straight to the japanese...it doesnt fit. yes, the japanese are the only victims of the bomb, but in your argument, the cloud becomes a symbol for just that, the bombing of japan...not the cold war, not a new era of weapons that can etch the last shadows of humans upon concrete.

Do we want a symbol for the cold war or a new era of weapons that can etch the last shadows of humans on concrete, on our license plates? I for one absolutely do not see why we would, even if that symbol were not inextricably intertwined with some of the most torturous events of this century. Which of course it is.

The only reason that the mushroom cloud means anything other than the death and destruction it caused in Japan to anyone is because japan is so far away & we didn't experience it firsthand. The only reason we can consider it positive is because we won. But those bombs were a fuckload of "collatoral damage", and whether they were necessary or not, which we don't need to argue here, they cannot be said to be unilaterally good & beneficial. There is, or at least should be IMO, a lot of conflict & despair over those choices.

I understand that that is how you see it. Others see it as a representation of a patriotic war effort. Still others see it as a representation of spectacular scientific and technological achievement - the final unlocking of the secrets of the atom.

A patriotic war effort that killed and mutilated hundreds of thousands of civilians, though. A spectacular scientific achievement that made the destruction of human life possible. I mean, the dark side of this cannot be ignored!
posted by mdn at 9:10 AM on April 29, 2002


"Do we want a symbol for the cold war or a new era of weapons that can etch the last shadows of humans on concrete, on our license plates?"

Obviously, quite a few of us do.

"I for one absolutely do not see why we would..."

This is equally obvious.

Technically speaking, the license plate is going on an automobile. And what is an automobile? Why, it is an engineering "...effort that killed and mutilated hundreds of thousands of civilians... A spectacular scientific achievement that made the destruction of human life possible." Seems almost fitting in this light, eh?
posted by umberto at 10:33 AM on April 29, 2002


It also allowed us to end the biggest war the world has ever seen in a very short time and by some reckonings resulted in a net savings of life by cutting the fighting short. Of course, the Cold War followed, which was a quite stressful time for all of us -- but it was nuclear weapons (or more precisely, our economic ability to build them far in excess of the Russians) that brough that to an end eventually too.
posted by kindall at 11:12 AM on April 29, 2002


Obviously, quite a few of us do.

why? I just don't get it. You want a symbol of a "new age" of immense destructive capability on your license plate? like a power trip? dude, it's just not healthy.

Why, it is an engineering "...effort that killed and mutilated hundreds of thousands of civilians... A spectacular scientific achievement that made the destruction of human life possible." Seems almost fitting in this light, eh?

Automobiles were not built specifically for the destruction of human life, and the drivers of those automobiles take some degree of responsibility for whether they are killed or mutilated. Also, citizens have the right to choose whether to take that risk or not. It is not even remotely comparable.

It also allowed us to end the biggest war the world has ever seen in a very short time and by some reckonings resulted in a net savings of life...

As I said above, I'm not up for an argument over whether using the bomb was the right thing to do or not: but even if it was, it was in no way unequivocally good. It may have been a lesser of evils answer, but it was still an utterly tragic moment in history.

the Cold War followed, ... -- but it was nuclear weapons that brough that to an end eventually too.

??? Please. Yeah, nukes brought an end to it -- because it was all about nukes the whole time. There would have been no cold war if not for the extraordinarily destructive power of the nuclear bombs we both had. The entire cold war was about scaring each other shitless that we might launch a nuclear missile. It's like homer's alcohol, or a cynic's god: the cause of and solution to all life's problems.
posted by mdn at 1:22 PM on April 29, 2002


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