Flashbacks: Touring MIT's nuclear reactor, the coffee table book from hell, and a 1968 review of the White Album.

10 years ago
Nov. 20, 1998 | Jason Gay toured MIT's nuclear reactor.

"...touring a nuclear reactor isn't like visiting a petting zoo. At the start, all guests are equipped with pen-size pocket dosimeters -- devices used to measure any unwanted radiation they may collect during the tour. They are told not to touch anything without asking first. The tour I went on marked the first time I have ever been asked to submit myself to a Geiger counter or encountered a GRAVE DANGER -- HIGH RADIATION AREA sign.

"Guests enter the MIT reactor by passing through an air-lock chamber, an experience that feels a bit like riding a slow elevator. The facility's main room, where the nuclear reactor lies, is a large, open space, painted pale blue and surrounded by catwalks and various gadgets from decades gone by. (You can't help but feel a bit nostalgic for the Cold War. I half-expected to find Austin Powers—style karate-kicking enemies in lab coats, or at least a missile or two pointed at BU.)" Read full article

15 years ago
November 19, 1993 | Ravin' and rantin' columnist Caroline Knapp tackled the appearance of a less-than-appealing coffee table book.

"Not long ago, a female colleague left the following message in my


Ick! Someone has sent me a promotional brochure for a new book
Femalia: Thirty-two Full-Color Photographs of Women's Genitals...'

"This is disgusting. DISGUSTING! Do you not agree? If a man were to
publish a book of photographs of female genitalia, we would all
scream, 'Pornography!'...

"Am I a prude?...Annie Sprinkle, performance artist,
would think so. Annie Sprinkle is quoted on the back of the book jacket as
saying, 'This book is a magic mirror letting you know exactly how you feel
about female genitalia. It's a perfect coffee-table book...'

"Could we please, please put an end to things like this? Could we please
turn back the clock just a hair to a time when you had to buy a copy of
Hustler in order to find 32 full-color photographs of female genitalia?
Back to a time when women were women and not Wimmin?"

35 years ago
November 20, 1973 | Michael Ryan dove into the "surprise" energy crisis
and looming oil shortage.

"In fact, if this country reacts to the oil shortage the way it has
reacted to shortages of everything from paper to alcohol, there will be
black markets everywhere, with oil speakeasies and cellars with concealed
oil tanks...

"Expect the worst within the next few weeks, when the shortage of Arabian oil will begin to hurt big. At the moment, America is receiving 2,000,000 fewer barrels of Arabian oil every day than it needs...

"Car pools, which ecologists have been encouraging for years, are now
receiving encouragement from Government. Governor Sargent is
suggesting a tax break for carpoolers...

"Wealthy people who like to drive their own cars might be forced to hire passengers to ride through checkpoints on the way to town. The passengers could then jump out, sneak back across the checkpoint and spend the rest of their day repeating their services...

"Happy Ice Age."

40 years ago
November 20, 1968 | Eric Kraft reviewed The Beatles' new self-titled LP, otherwise known as The White Album.

"Only the Beatles, indisputably at the top of the heap, could have done it in quite this way.

"The new ingredient is humor. Beatles humor has been more of a feature of the films than their recordings, until now. The Beatles have always been good at developing a new sound by combining older forms; they began that way after all, and introduced Baroque- and raga-rock that way. On The Beatles they have turned their talent for grafting to the service of parody, the unifying style of this album.

"It is not the event that Sgt. Pepper was. It is instead, a retrospective pause, a catologue of what has happened and what is happening in pop music. It is a put-on and put-down, a happy burlesque of the rock scene."

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