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Houston, we have liftoff. Liftoff of the Neon John Blog. The best thing to happen to the Internet since Mosaic! Ahem….. Well, let’s get this thing started.

Let’s see. I’m sitting here in my cabin-home in the most gorgeous mountains in the country – Tellico Plains, TN. This is truly heaven on earth. It’s about 60 degrees outside, the whippoorwills are calling and a wild hog just tromped across the yard looking for something to eat. I just polished off a dinner of rainbow trout that were swimming in the river a few hours ago. Bob the Cat is enjoying leftovers and all is well with the world.

Maybe I ought to introduce myself.

I schooled as a nuclear engineer. I’ve done that, electrical engineering, process control engineering, race car engineering, made neon signs, drove a semi truck for a year just to see what it was like, wrote software for about a decade (just missing out on the dot com boom), published several magazines, owned and operated the world famous John G’s BBQ restaurants and now am in semi-retirement. Is that grand or what?

I have hobbies and interests so numerous that the internet would run out of zeroes and ones if I listed ’em all :-) I’ll chat about a few in the coming days. I try to learn a new craft every few years (goal was one a year but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.) My last one was furnace glass blowing and now I’m learning blacksmithing. Still a rank amateur but learning fast. I’m going to attend an excellent multi-week class in blacksmithing at the fabulous John C Campbell Folk School over in Brasstown Bald, NC come fall and cooler temperatures. This is a simply amazing school for all sorts of arts and crafts but their blacksmithing program is second to none.

I swore off TV and newspapers several years ago, one of the single best things I did to improve my quality of life. As such, you won’t read any mindless regurgitation of “news” that’s fed to the masses every day. I’m interested in politics but not partisan politics. My interests and concerns regard my and your accelerating loss of even the most basic freedoms. I got a stunning reminder of that just today. See the next post.

Oh, one last thing. Pay no attention to the current appearance of this page. I’m still working on that. I’m having to learn CSS, PHP and blogging all at the same time. Stay tuned.

Later, John

Posted by neonjohn on May 31st, 2007 under Misc

3 Responses to “Liftoff!”

  1. AlS Says:

    Hi John, & congrats on Liftoff. I have been marvelling over some of your tales/exploits for quite some time now. (From the collected items on Norman Yarvin’s YARCHIVE.NET, mostly.)
    One quick comment, which you need not address now… I saw in your “Neon Bulb as Radiation Detector” interview (about 2003, on, that you thought radiation hormesis was irrefuteable. I would love to see some more discussion about this; if the Chen et al study, is not faked, then you must be correct.
    I know you’re more a hands-on kind of guy, but I would be interested in any comments you may have.
    Thanks, & best wishes.AlS

  2. neonjohn Says:

    Thanks much. I haven’t officially launched since I don’t have enough content yet but I’m hammering away.

    Hormesis is one of the things I plan to write about. Mostly trying to take some of the more technical papers and reducing them to everyday language.

    Stay tuned and try out that RSS thingie if you like. I think it works.


  3. AlS Says:

    This posting is submitted with the understanding that it may need to be corrected for any
    mis-understandings or mis-statements of fact. I am not a scientist. If it doesn’t fit with what
    you’re trying to do here, John, obviously you can dump it… and I’ll get over it.

    My focus here is on the possibility of radiation hormesis, and what it should mean for
    health protection standards.
    I think that it’s pretty important to base our policies on facts as we can determine them,
    with allowance for our lack of complete knowledge. Obviously, this can be difficult; people are
    ornery critters, and sometimes can’t agree on anything.
    A recent example of this was the CERRIE (pronounced “Cherry”, Committee on the Risks
    of Radioactive Internal Emitters, or something similar) report in the UK.
    This was supposed to determine areas of agreement between Regulator, Academic
    Scientist, and “Deep Green” board factions. My impression was that the Greens couldn’t agree
    with the others on anything of importance, and made a dissenting report of their own.

    It looks to me, that there isn’t any really strong scientific consensus as to what the shape
    of the dose response curve is. I understand that the regulations call for human exposures to be
    kept “as low as reasonably possible” (the ALARA standard), and that exposure is kept so low that
    it’s hard to tell whether anyone is hurt (or possibly helped) at all. Some people (health physics
    people, I mean) seem to believe the Linear-No Threshold Hypothesis is Gospel; a lot of others
    seem to reserve judgement, and a vocal minority believe that low doses, like 30 times average
    background, are beneficial.
    While I would love to believe this last, the “hormetic” dose idea, I realize that what I
    want and what Nature actually does, are two entirely different things.
    I have seen a number of graphs that are supposed to show the dose-response risk curve,
    and my problem is that I don’t know what datasets to believe.
    For example, I have seen the critics’ plotting of the Miller et al dataset. This shows a strong dip in
    breast cancer rate, near 10 Roentgens total dose. This is claimed by some of the hormesis
    advocates to be where the data was most plentiful and significant. Yet the study was originally
    billed as proof of Linear No Threshold., and was originally published by the New England
    Journal of Medicine without showing this data plot. See the graph at:

    The graphs in the pdf file of the Chen et al article are even more striking…But while I am
    not aware of anyone saying they aren’t correct, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
    has a bad rep, and is supposed to be attractive to cranks. Dang.

    On the other hand, there was an article in the British Medical Journal which surveyed 15 studies,
    and considered ionizing radiation dangerous down to low levels… but admitted that discarding
    only the Canadian study would make their results statistically not significant.
    (This was from a link
    on the site, but I no longer have the url info.)
    So here I am: I think this is a trillion dollar question, and I can’t discover the truth of the matter.
    I would love to have someone shed some real light on this.

    See also:

    Australasian Radiation Protection Society Newsletter, No.30, April 2004.
    Lessons of Chernobyl – with particular reference to thyroid cancer
    by Zbigniew Jaworowski
    Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection – CLOR, Warsaw, Poland
    Excerpt from summation:

    (5) This was the worst possible catastrophe of a badly constructed nuclear reactor, with
    a complete meltdown of the reactor core, followed by the ten-days long completely free
    emission of radionuclides into the atmosphere. Nothing worse could happen. It resulted
    in a comparatively small occupational death toll, amounting to about half of that of each
    weekend’s traffic in Poland, and tens or hundreds of times lower than that of many other
    industrial catastrophes, and it is unlikely that any fatalities were caused by radiation
    among the public. In the centuries to come, the Chernobyl catastrophe will be seen as a
    proof that nuclear power is a safe means of energy production.

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