Chernobyl

Upon reflection, deciding to start my day before it was time for work by finishing my watch of HBO/Sky TV’s Chernobyl might have been a mistake.

There’s lots to praise about the miniseries itself – a very well acted piece which didn’t skimp on showing just how drastic the consequences of the accident were for so many humans (and domestic pets1) anywhere near that corner of the then-Soviet Union at the time and long afterwards – but the material in the programme was definitely not destined to lift the mood.2

Spending my work day at home, wrangling data from spreadsheets and databases and emailing those numbers to folks, inside and outside my organisation, who in practical terms didn’t have access to the information buried in those data sources for themselves kept me busy and kept my mind off the bleak picture Chernobyl painted of how the world works, but heightened the sense that I’m as much of a "bio-robot" as the guys the series showed spending time on the ruined rooftop chucking radioactive debris off the roof. I provide a bit of functionality that my employers could in theory computerise given sufficient time and money,3 but (so far) haven’t found it reasonable to spend time and money implementing.

Anyway, really good TV. Very well worth a look.


  1. See episode 4 in particular, as the relevant Fanfare thread revealed plenty of viewers who almost noped out when we followed a trio of soldiers whose job was now to shoot all the adandoned pets in the area around the plant, both to save the animals from a lingering death and stop them from spreading the contamination further to surrounding towns and cities. 
  2. Interesting to contemplate how the United States or the UK would have coped with a Chernobyl-scale crisis. Probably not as differently as we might hope, I think. Different jargon justifying the actions you take, for sure, but when you’re tinkering with nuclear energy generation the scale and scope of the consequences of something going wrong are such that throwing fragile human bodies at the problem might end up being all you can do. 
  3. I fully acknowledge that I’m lucky to have been able to carry on doing this work from home rather than being furloughed for the last year and a bit, but if my employers wanted the work I do to keep on being done month after month – which they definitely did – there wasn’t any other way to make that happen in the short term, particularly given the speed with which we had to transition to working from home. Time will tell whether in the medium term my employers decide to make it a priority to spend the money to automate my team’s job out of existence. (In the long term they almost certainly will automate our jobs out of existence.) 
, 4 June 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .