Well There’s Your Problem | Episode 11: Aberfan Disaster

Well There’s Your Problem | Episode 11: Aberfan Disaster

January 13, 2020 100 By Jose Scott


JUSTIN: Alright. Um. Wh, wh- I’m gonna start. Uh. ALICE: Yes. JUSTIN: Welcome to another episode of ‘Well
There’s Your Problem,’ which is a podcast about engineering disasters. I’m Justin Roczniak, I’m the person who’s
talking now, uhhhh. My pronouns are ‘he/him’, uhhhh. Right. Yes. [laughter]
LIAM: Fucking perfect. ALICE: I am Alice Caldwell-Kelly, my pronouns
are ‘she’ and ‘her’, I’m the person who’s talking now, and I… Justin, you really picked a great one here,
some… a lot of, like, great dead children content for our comedy podcast. LIAM: Yes. JUSTIN: Oh no, our guest picked this one. LIAM: Extremely on brand. JUSTIN: I take no credit. LIAM: …that’s disappointing. JUSTIN: You’re insulting me for not-
LIAM: Yes. How could you do this. JUSTIN: -having the foresight to pick a disaster
with lots of dead children? [laughter]
LIAM: Bhopal’s gonna be a fuckin’ riot. Um, I am Liam Anderson, I am – oh fuck. JUSTIN: [fucking up the slides] Go back, go
back. [laughter]
ALICE: For fuck’s sake. LIAM: I am @oldmananders0n on Twitter. My pronouns are ‘he/him’. Ugh, this is a clown car. SEAN: [extremely shitty mic voice] Hi, uh,
I’m the guest, I’m Sean KB from The Antifada podcast, my pronouns are ‘he/him’, and if
you don’t like pronouns, uh, stated, then die mad, hoes. S’all I’m gonna say. ALICE: Mm. Hoes mad, x24. LIAM: That’s, that’s pretty much it. JUSTIN: Hoes are extremely mad about pronouns. Unfortunately. LIAM: To be fair, the amount of dumb ‘wuhhhh
pronouns’ commentary in the YouTube comments has gone way down, so I appreciate those of
you for dogpiling on morons. ALICE: Yes. We have some antifa supersoldiers in the chat,
and that’s, y’know. We always appreciate that. SEAN: We, I think we lent – we sent some to
you on loan, right? Antifada guys? ALICE: Yeah, absolutely. JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: It’s just like fifty guys in black
hoodies, just in the comments section, just hanging out. SEAN: Smoking clove cigarettes and just giving
beatdowns. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: So um, what you’re seeing here on
the screen, you might notice there’s a whole bunch of uh, y’know, grey crap here, and then
there’s a town. That town is-
LIAM: Wait a damn second. Wait a damn second. Did you skip the, the one slide? ALICE: No, that’s next. JUSTIN: No, no I did not, that’s next. LIAM: Aww, fuck. Sorry for that. ALICE: He fucked up, because he skipped ahead
to it, and then he went back. LIAM: Ohhhh, my bad. [cheerily] Alright yeah let’s talk about the
dead kids. JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: Yeah, so – damn, it was pretty-
JUSTIN: Good Lord. ALICE: It’s pretty fucked up that they just
built their town around that like, giant pile of shit. JUSTIN: No, as it turns out, this pile of
shit is not supposed to be there. Right? LIAM: Ohhh. JUSTIN: Right. So this is the… Ayberfan, uh, disaster. Ayberfan is the village-
ALICE: [laughing] Aberfan. Aberfan! JUSTIN: Look, this is where I get to mispronounce
things but they’re not French, they’re Welsh, yeah. ALICE: That’s true, and it’s not racist because
Welsh people are white mostly. SEAN: And also Welsh isn’t even a real language,
so you can just pronounce it however you like. ALICE: Mm. JUSTIN: I’m a POC, a person of Cynwyd. [laughter]
ALICE: A Plaid of Cymru. SEAN: A POC, but somehow it’s spelled with
like seven consonants in a row. [laughter]
JUSTIN: There’s like six Y’s in there, yeah. Alright, but I thought before we begin, we’d
talk about a *real* engineering disaster, a disaster in general, and that was, uh, the
reffing at last night’s Eagles game. LIAM: Yeah. Let’s fucking GO. Alright. So, uh, the hero in the Eagles uniform, being
squashed by the menace Jadeveon Clowney- JUSTIN: How is that not targeting?! How is that not targeting?! LIAM: It is targeting, I would if you let
me get there, uh, I can explain this. Um, so the NFL’s official explanation was
Carson Wentz wasn’t giving himself up, despite clearly having given himself up, uh, and therefore
it was not targeting despite the fact that Jadeveon Clowney led with the helmet, which
you’re absolutely not supposed to fuckin’ do anymore, uh, and the league just kinda
was like, “Oh, our bad,” despite the fact that there were seven fuckin’ refs around
the guy, uh, all of whom should have immediately thrown a flag. Jadeveon Clowney should have been ejected,
he’s done this shit before, he had a fuckin’ dirty hit on Nick Foles *last* season when
he was quarterbacking, that he got fined 40 fuckin’ thousand dollars for, and it’s inexplicable
that the fuckin’ league can say with a straight face, “Yes we care about player safety,” when
this hit knocked Carson Wentz out of the game and gave him a concussion. Like, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the
Seahawks are still allowed to even fuckin’ play in the NFL, all the- the fuckin’ team
should be contracted, Paul Allen, or the corpse of Paul Allen, should be dug up and shot into
the fuckin’ sun… [laughter]
LIAM: And I fuckin’ hate Pete Carroll, Pete Carroll’s a 9/11 truther, but only for the
Pentagon. The coach of the Seahawks. That is an absolutely fucking insane dude.
[laughter] ALICE: That’s the weirdest possible combination
to go with. LIAM: He sucked at USC, he won one Super Bowl
and then blew up the defense cause he was too busy trying to glory boy fuckin’ Russell
Wilson of all people. Like… Marshawn Lynch! Give the ball to Marshawn Lynch! And then he’s like, “Actually, my Brain Genius
says that we should have thrown the ball against a fuckin’ leaky Patriots defense,” and that’s
why they didn’t win the Super Bowl, and that’s why they won’t fuckin’ win the Super Bowl
this year, Jadeveon Clowney’s a dirty fuckin’ player, he has been for years, fuckin’ get
him out of the league, get the whole Seahawks’ game out of the league, fuck ’em, go birds. Go birds. ALICE: Yeah, just sink Seattle into the ocean. JUSTIN: Fuck Seattle. Fuck Amazon, fuck Jeff Bezos. LIAM: Paul Allen. Don’t forget Paul Allen. JUSTIN: Fuck the Washington Post. LIAM: Yeah. I mean, yes. Vote for Washington. SEAN: I’m not an Eagles fan, I’m actually
a Giants fan, I didn’t watch this game, but it sounds like to me, that *Clowney*, shoulda
been the name of the *ref*, am I right? JUSTIN: Ohhhhh. ALICE: Like the damn clowns in Congress. LIAM: I would like it to be known, Sean, that
I was at Eagles-Giants, week 17, and it was delightful to watch your kinfolk slowly lose
their fuckin’ minds. [laughter]
LIAM: Including the guy, like, at least 50 years old, in a fuckin’ Lawrence Taylor jersey,
talking about how he was mad at us for cheering because he was trying to defend the Giants’
pride. Like… right in front of his, like, six year
old child, and then he fell down the stairs as he was fucking leaving. [laughter]
LIAM: Because dude, because the New York Giants are just the ‘Never Trump’ Republicans of
the NFL, and they can all be fired into the fuckin’ sun too. [laughter]
SEAN: Guys, we’re gonna have to move on from this, seeing as how I met Lawrence Taylor
when he was still playing for the Giants, and Liam is basically destroying my childhood
as we speak. LIAM: Oh, would you like to know about his
many domestic abuse charges? [laughter]
ALICE: Future Patreon episode is just, the disaster is the NFL. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: And we just let Liam have the mic for
an hour, yeah. JUSTIN: Well we have to talk about another
three letter acronym that starts with N, though. Which is the NCB! LIAM: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
[laughter] ALICE: But wait a second. That sounds like it’s ‘national’ something,
and we’re ‘moisturized leftists’. So. JUSTIN: That’s true. LIAM: If you felt my face right now, you would
know that it’s not been moisturized. I, my skin is fuckin’ gross, dude. ALICE: Do some fucking skincare, Jesus! LIAM: No! Nope.
[laughter] SEAN: Liam just spent the last three days
working up to this episode by doing the skincare regimen of a coal miner. [laughter]
ALICE: Justin Trudeau?! LIAM: Yeah, I’m playing Coaltown Road furiously…
nope, nope, not, nooo, I am a good person sometimes. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright, so. Let’s talk a bit about coal mining in Britain. Right? Alright, so historically there’s been a lot
of it, right? Cause you know that whole Industrial Revolution
thing happened there. ALICE: Yeah. You need it, to put in the trains. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: Things of that nature. JUSTIN: And also heating your house. And, like, um… power plants. ALICE: Yeah, generating electricity, uhhh… JUSTIN: Steel… SEAN: Not to mention, if you’re Britain, uh,
putting that coal into, uh, steamships, and going around and conquering and brutalizing
the entire world. ALICE: Mm! Absolutely. JUSTIN: They also sold a lot of it to Santa. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. Just generally, just piling it up in big heaps
and setting it on fire for no reason. That was like the number one entertainment
activity until like 1970 in Britain. SEAN: That was their NFL. [laughter]
LIAM: Setting shit on fire and burning it? ALICE: Yuh. LIAM: Like good refereeing, got it. Back it. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Less chance of concussion, yeah. So, um, now somehow, having many coal companies,
all producing the same product, uhhhh, fucked up, right? And so, in 1946, the National Coal Board was
created, right? ALICE: Mmm. On the wave of nationalization from the first
Labour government postwar. Yeah. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. Yeah, a whole bunch of stuff was nationalized,
amongst which was the coal industry, right, so we’re. We have a really progressive, forward-thinking
attitude towards coal. Coal is no longer mined for profit, coal is
mined for the people. ALICE: Mm! LIAM: Promising. JUSTIN: Yes. And so, in the early days of the NCB, there’s
like a massive investment in mining infrastructure, British coal becomes the cheapest in Europe
because they’ve increased labor productivity so much, but then, uh, in general, like, technology
started moving towards, like, y’know, maybe we should use oil. Instead of coal. Y’know, for things like… powering trains. Or things like… um. Whatsit. Heating your house. ALICE: Yeah. Well, there’s a couple of advantages, you
don’t… cause it’s liquid, you don’t have to shovel
stuff. JUSTIN: Mhmm. ALICE: You just… harder to throw your back
out. LIAM: Yeah. You just get it with a really big straw. You can just suck it right up. SEAN: And instead of being in the hills of
like, in the mountains of a place like Wales, which is nice and peaceful, if you use oil
you can go to *adventurous* places like Iran and Iraq to get it out of the ground. That’s more interesting. ALICE: That’s true. JUSTIN: Oh, this is true, yes. You can have all kinds of, uh, *interesting*
adventures, yes. SEAN: You can have follies. Follies! JUSTIN: Yeah. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So with the increased labor productivity that came with modernization of the coal mines,
with also reduced demand, uh, that meant there were a bunch of layoffs and that was from
the late 50s to the early 70s, which is when we’re gonna be talking about. Um, and, y’know, this was not popular with
the National Union of Mineworkers, um, which was their really big labor union, right? ALICE: Yeah. Really strong one, too. Like, it was a well-unionized industry, and
the NUM was particularly militant, like, they weren’t afraid to go on strike. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. But they didn’t really go on strike until
1969, that was like a wildcat strike, and then in the 70s, that’s when the really big
strikes happened, but that’s after, um, what we’re gonna talk about today. ALICE: Yeah. In the 60s they had a couple of like undeclared
strikes, where they sort of rattled the saber, and the NCB would, like, give them everything
they wanted? Uh, but yeah, no, it became much more adversarial
pretty much after what we’re gonna talk about. SEAN: Let’s just say for the sake of this
episode, because there’s no Arthur Scargill, there’s no miners’ strike of the 80s, there’s
no Thatcher involved in this, let’s just say: National Union of Miners? Kings. Heroes. JUSTIN: Yes. SEAN: Heroes of this story. LIAM: Mhm. JUSTIN: There’s a little bit of Thatcher involved
with this. LIAM: Ugghhhhh. ALICE: Yeah, she’s like, she haunts the tail
end of this bit, yeah. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. So, y’know, eventually there was like the
thing in the 80s where Thatcher broke the union, she closed the mines, everyone was
very mad. Cause this is widely regarded as a bad move. ALICE: Yes. JUSTIN: Unless you were a Tory, right? ALICE: Yeah, we don’t mine a lot of coal any
more, that was probably inevitable, but uh, the state of a lot of former coal mining communities
can be laid firmly at her door, so… that’s why her grave is like a gender-neutral bathroom. [laughter]
SEAN: Well, listen, if Thatcher hadn’t done that, uh, it would have ended up like the
United States, where our coal communities are strong, and vibrant…
[laughter] ALICE: For sure. If only coding had been invented, then all
of our miners could’ve learned to code. SEAN: In the 60s. LIAM: And then nothing bad would’ve happened. COBOL, motherfucker. ALICE: Yeah. They could’ve learned how to, like, punch
punchcards. [laughter]
JUSTIN: What’s COBOL but for coal? LIAM: COALBOL. [laughter]
JUSTIN: COALBOL. So, when our story takes place, in the 1960s,
the NCB is run by a guy named Alfred Robans- ALICE: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
JUSTIN: -Baron Robans of Waldingham. SEAN: BOOOOOOOOOOOOO
JUSTIN: Y’know, he’s part of that socialist title of nobility pipeline that only exists
in the United Kingdom, right? ALICE: Yeah, and it was one of the weird features
of the Attlee government, was that, like, you would get these kind of… ehhhh… not
to put to fine a point on it, but cronies. Not necessarily in a bad way, but like, Alf
Robans came up as a trade unionist, and he was an MP, and then essentially they, like,
decided, “Hey, to keep you out of politics, do you want to be in charge of National Coal,
and you’ll never have to fight an election again because we’ll just make you a lord.” Uh. Yeah, very very weird. LIAM: That is weird. JUSTIN: I like it, but also I hate it, because
I’m American. We fought a war about this. ALICE: Yeah, we literally created kind of
a Labour aristocracy. One of the things – I think the first thing
he did as head of the National Coal Board was get a private plane, and a limo with the
license plate ‘NCB 1’. LIAM: Jesus fuck, dude! JUSTIN: Nice! Be a baller!
[laughter] LIAM: Be less obvious about it. [laughter]
SEAN: Y’know, you have that lord system there, which obviously has a very long lineage, but
in the United States we have similar cynosures [he means sinecures], and they go to uh, career
bureaucrats, wonderful people like Eliott Abrams, for example, who’s never been out
of government bureaucracy or, y’know, the think tank apparatus for all the-
ALICE: Yeah, but at least you don’t have to call him, like, your majesty, or something. [laughter]
LIAM: His dick would get so hard it would explode the rest of his body. [laughter]
LIAM: Also, I just want to take a quick break: there will be a Donald Trump rally in Wildwood,
New Jersey this month, so expect that bonus content for when we get beat up at a Trump
rally in Wildwood, in January. JUSTIN: I don’t want to get beat up in January
in Wildwood. LIAM: Oh, you’re going. You’re going. SEAN: Don’t worry guys, we’ll send troops. [laughter]
SEAN: Crack operators. JUSTIN: Alright. So, um, let’s talk about the mine in Aberfan,
which is actually the… what is it, the like, Murthy-
ALICE: Merthyr-Vale. JUSTIN: Merthyr-Vale colliery. ALICE: It’s just ‘murther’, yeah. JUSTIN: Yeah, okay. ALICE: It’s named… that whole region is
Merthyr, the town down the road is Merthyr Tydfil, which is like the most miserable place
I’ve ever been. Uh. Just dismal. You think it looks bad there, 30 years of
deindustrialization have not been kind. LIAM: The wiki page is giving me an insight
into how fucking sad… nice castle. ALICE: Mmm. Well. You look at a picture of Merthyr Tydfil, just
like an ordinary street scene and you just start kind of like, itching? Uh, yeah. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So this is uh, this is a shaft mine, right, so you know, you go down the hole,
you dig some tunnels, right, you send the coal back up, and you come back out of the
hole at the end of the day. Y’know. ALICE: Yeah. And you have the stylish, like, pit heads
there. So. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. ALICE: Y’know, you have like a nice tower
with a big wheel going round it, very aesthetic. JUSTIN: Yes. And this is of course opposed to like a big
open pit mine, right? Like those big German ones. Although those don’t actually exist, because
the Germans only use renewable energy, as we know. [laughter]
LIAM: Fuck yeah, absolutely, a true thing that I believe. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: “Where did these giant holes come from?” LIAM: Unexploded ordnance. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Well, that would be exploded ordnance at that point. LIAM: Nope. Nope. That’s what they want you to think. [laughter]
ALICE: Just, one of the late war allied plans, just to drop a bomb so big that even if it
doesn’t detonate it just buries itself and creates a lake. JUSTIN: The thing about mining in real life
is that it’s not like Minecraft, right? ALICE: It’s not? LIAM: Oh, Jesus. JUSTIN: Yeah, no, you can’t like, just store
all the cobblestone in chests, right, you gotta put it in big piles outside, right? ALICE: [uncertainly] Right… JUSTIN: So this is what you call, uh… LIAM: Well what if someone steals it? JUSTIN: Good! You don’t want this stuff!
[laughter] LIAM: Oh. Lovely. JUSTIN: Yeah, so, mining produces overburden,
or spoil, and that’s, y’know. All the stuff that isn’t the coal or ore you’re
digging for. ALICE: Right. The… dirt. JUSTIN: Yes. The dirt. And so this is stored in something called
a spoil tip, right, and the spoil tip, again, it’s just a big pile, um, and spoil or overburden
is different from tailings. Tailings are a different thing we’ll get to
in a minute, uh, but tailings are the waste left over from processing of your coal or
your ore. That’s usually really nasty and highly toxic,
right? Um, it’s not just dirt. And there’s a lot of that that needs to get
stored, too. ALICE: Cool. JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: Mining doesn’t sound, very, like…
good. For the environment. Like. Just in terms of…
JUSTIN: As it turns out, yeah. Resource extraction is pretty nasty in pretty
much all industries, yeah. ALICE: Mm. Well, we just gotta get Elon Musk to like
mine out of asteroids, and then… it’ll be fine. LIAM: Just fuckin’ depressing. JUSTIN: I heard about this great, this asteroid
he had his eyes on, called um, what is it, like… SEAN: Grimes. [laughter]
JUSTIN: 3674 Bolivia. [laughter]
LIAM: Ohoho. JUSTIN: [flatly] Oh, ho, ho. Ho. There was a coup there. Alright, so, anyway. Evo Morales is the correct and rightful president
of Bolivia, anyway, these big piles, these spoil tips, are usually pretty stable. Cause they’re just, y’know, a heap of rocks,
right? ALICE: Sure. JUSTIN: But they can be affected by soil conditions,
water content, so on and so forth, right. ALICE: Just put a tarp over it, it’s fine. LIAM: That’s fine. SEAN: Big tarp. ALICE: Big tarp! JUSTIN: I mean, that’s… that is a solution,
actually, that is something you can do. [laughter]
ALICE: I hate when I, like, come up with a dumb joke and it’s an actual, like… JUSTIN: “No actually, that’s something they
do, yeah.” LIAM: Reality is worse and less funny, yeah. SEAN: Am I the only person in this podcast
who’s actually worked with spoil before? JUSTIN: I think so, yeah. SEAN: Okay, yeah, cause I work in heavy union
construction, if people don’t know, and when we are excavating, and when we are drilling
for deep foundation work, we got spoil all over the place, man. I feel like I’m back at home here, with this
podcast, it’s very exciting. Although because I work in New York City,
and absolutely everything is fucking polluted, spoil’s not just something that ruins the
landscape, it’s also something that will basically give you cancer within 2-3 years. LIAM: Oh fuck. SEAN: Yeah. Everything’s polluted, everything’s bad. These spoils look nice and pristine and non-carcinogenic,
though, so. Maybe nobody will die in this episode. ALICE: Yeah… I mean, I think the actual ground in Wales
is fine. Cause, like, there’s not big cities or anything,
all of these mining towns are like 5,000 people at most, and all they do – all they did, anyway
– was mine coal, so. It’s not like there’s a lot of other stuff
going into it. SEAN: So unlike Brooklyn and Queens, they
didn’t just dump 150 years of PCBs and oil and other chemicals into the soil? That sounds weird, but okay. [laughter]
LIAM: Cowards. SEAN: I put on my hazmat suit just for this
episode, but I guess I’ll take it. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, if the mic quality is bad it’s because it’s inside the Tyvek hazmat suit. [laughter]
SEAN: Yes. LIAM: We’re doing our best. Sean is doing his best. JUSTIN: So, we gotta talk about the uh, Merthyr-Vale
colliery spoil tip number 7, right? ALICE: Mm. Such a romantic location. JUSTIN: I know, right? …I just realized I don’t know which of these
it is. I think it’s sort of this, in the middle here. SEAN: The one that looks ominous, baby. The ominous one. JUSTIN: Yes. The ominous one. LIAM: The ominous one. Goddammit. JUSTIN: As of 1966, when our story begins,
spoil tip 7 was the only one in use, right? ALICE: Cause they filled the other 6, right? Like, it’s just a big pile of dirt, and after
a certain point, somebody’s like, “Ahhhh, the pile of dirt’s getting pretty big, we
should do another one.” JUSTIN: Yes. SEAN: Yeah, what’s the criteria for like changing
tips? They’re just like, “Ehhhhh, I think this one’s
good,”? ALICE: I think that’s basically gonna be it,
there’s gonna be a guy from the mine who just kind of looks at it and goes, “Ehhhh.” JUSTIN: “Yeah, it’s looking a little big,
we should probably start another one.” SEAN: Yeah, the tip inspector. LIAM: Oh yeah, buddy. JUSTIN: Just the tip. [immature laughter]
LIAM: Yeah, you want anything else inspected, that’s gotta go to another union. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, the International Brotherhood of Tip Inspectors. Unionizes mineworkers and sex workers. [laughter]
LIAM: We hold crazy parties. SEAN: Nice. JUSTIN: So… yeah, so this was on the western
slope of the valley where Aberfan was located, just above the village – you can see the village
down here – if you can see my mouse going. Also sorry for my ‘activate windows’ thing
down here, I’m sure someone will point that out. LIAM: Awful. JUSTIN: I do have a legal copy of Windows,
I just can’t activate it on my new computer. ALICE: Sure you do. So to be clear, between uh, the village on
the left and the giant spoil tip on the right, that’s downhill towards the village? JUSTIN: Yes. Yes it is. ALICE: I see no problems. JUSTIN: Nothing can go wrong here. So, this spoil tip in particular was composed
of both spoil and tailings from chemical extraction of the coal. Right? So it’s got the nasty stuff in there too. It was 111 feet high and had 297,000 cubic
yards of spoil… it was sited on top of a spring. LIAM: Oh cool! SEAN: Nice. JUSTIN: Yeah… ALICE: Well, that just means that you get
some, like, charcoal-filtered spring water out of it. [laughter]
LIAM: Yeah, if it’s good enough for Jack Daniels, it’s good enough for the rest of us, you cowards. SEAN: If you put it by a patch of mint you
get menthol, too, it’s great. [laughter]
SEAN: Bad joke, sorry, go ahead. ALICE: This is the bad jokes podcast, you’re
fine. JUSTIN: Yes. SEAN: Oh, perfect, great, thanks. LIAM: I’m ready. JUSTIN: So in 1963 – May of 1963 – tip 7 shifted
a fair amount, right? Then there was a major slide in November of
that year. And, um, the National Coal Board said, “Oh,
that’s just a tailings run,” right? “That’s because, uh, we put too much tailings
on that day, and they slid off the side of the hill. It’s fine.” ALICE: So it’s gross, but, like, safe. JUSTIN: Yes. So they stopped dumping tailings after that,
on spoil tip 7, but they kept dumping spoil. LIAM: Of course they did. JUSTIN: So it’s still getting bigger. SEAN: It’s for productivity. The more spoiling, and the bigger it is, the
more, uh, the more the NCB is doing well. ALICE: I’m sure that’s true, yeah. I mean… it’s a hell of a lot easier to look
at the big fucking pile of spoil and be like, “Yeah, that’s a lot,” than it is to count
coal. LIAM: Doing so good, guys! JUSTIN: So there’d been some longtime complaints
from the residents of Aberfan that, y’know, they were building this big spoil tip, which
was located directly above, y’know. The elementary school. ALICE: [literal spit take] Just. Yeah. I’m sure the NCB handled this very sensitively,
and wasn’t like, “Fuck you, move the school.” [laughter]
JUSTIN: Oh, they didn’t even say to move the school, they just sort of ignored them. ALICE: Mm. Left on read. JUSTIN: Yeah. LIAM: Oh, that’s a hard way to go. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, I mean, from 1963 onwards they were complaining about this, and I believe
there was at some point some agreement that the NCB was going to handle some drainage
issues with the spoil tip, but I don’t recall exactly when that was, I think it was shortly
before… ALICE: Yeah. Well, they had runoff because it was getting
into the water table, and so the bottom of the valley where Aberfan was would flood,
and they… people complained to the coal board that, “Hey, not only are our houses
flooding, but like, this water’s pitch black, and it leaves this greasy residue when it
comes down.” LIAM: That’s fine. ALICE: Yeah. And the NCB said, “Yeah, we’ll do something
about *that*. Maybe. We’ll dig like a trench.” SEAN: You have to imagine who we’re dealing
with here, right, it’s 1966… ALICE: Mm, you have a long day at the racism
factory, you’re drunk already, uh. JUSTIN: Yeah. SEAN: You’re in this town of Aberfan, and
you’ve got this guy coming to town in his limousine…
[laughter] SEAN: He’s wearing a grey flannel suit, right,
he is a complete officious Methodist prick, and he comes to the town and he looks at the
tip, just ponderously looking over the elementary school, you complain to him, and he just does
a British stiff upper lip thing, and kind of tweaks you on the nose and walks away. This was state capitalism, right? This was what The Kinks where complaining
about, this is why, like, the Thatcherites were all complaining about, was this kind
of unaccountable system that I guess these people at Aberfan are about to find out about. ALICE: Yeah. Britain’s brief experiment with Dengism. [laughter]
JUSTIN: I think you’ll find this is actually good and perfect socialism. And all of these people…
[laughter] JUSTIN: All of these people are good socialists
and we should not criticize them in any way. ALICE: Socialism… socialism is when you
get a private limo with a private registration plate, and the more limos you have, the more
socialist you are. [laughter]
LIAM: That is true, as we know. SEAN: Did you guys get Aaron Bastani on here? ALICE: Not yet! JUSTIN: [not getting it] No… ALICE: Uh, he’s, for the benefit of Justin
and the listener, he’s the guy who keeps writing these left takes about how communism means
we’ll all have infinity pools. LIAM: Infinity what now? ALICE: We’ll all have all of our treats and
our luxuries because robots will do it for us. LIAM: Oh, of course. Why not. JUSTIN: Sure. Why not. Um. I… no. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, he is like Elon Musk (Marxist), and it’s like… yeah? [laughter]
SEAN: Get the whole mood. JUSTIN: I happen to be, um, Elon Musk (Maoist),
so. ALICE: Yeah. You’re a Naxalite-Muskite, yeah. [laughter]
SEAN: A Muskovite! ALICE: Mm. JUSTIN: I like it. So, under the Lord Robans administration of
the National Coal Board, right, there were a lot of coal mines that were being closed,
if they were, y’know, insufficiently productive. ALICE: Cause you got this mania for productivity. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. ALICE: Plus, also employing way too many people,
and also coal is kind of going downhill. [omg phrasing]
SEAN: Yeah, you have this contradiction of the Keynesian consensus of this time, which
is that you need to increase productivity, but you also need full employment. And as we all know, organic composition of
capital, that is like, completely at loggerheads with itself. So. Something tells me in the next ten years,
this whole postwar consensus might fall apart? I dunno. ALICE: Ah, it’s fine. This is socialism, uh, you have a strong union,
so all of these guys are union thugs, and there’s like six different jobs to be the
guy who watches the guy who watches the guy. And, yeah, no, it’s fine. LIAM: Many unions. Nice Russian doll nesting unions. ALICE: Mm. SEAN: Let a hundred unions bloom. [laughter]
JUSTIN: There was an issue here with the National Union of Mineworkers, the mineworkers who
work in the village, y’know, they didn’t really want to speak up on the spoil tip’s safety,
even if that directly threatened them, y’know, physically, because they worried that if they
have to make some expensive interventions into the spoil tip, right, then maybe Lord
Robans will just close the mine instead of doing the fixes. ALICE: And they were right! I mean, this essentially happened, twenty
years later, to every Welsh and English mining community. So, not for nothing were they worried about
this. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. ALICE: Just, London really didn’t want to
pay for a tarp that big. [laughter]
JUSTIN: I was about to say, yeah, that’s a big fuckin’ tarp. You know how much that… that probably costs
like three or four dollars a square foot. [laughter]
SEAN: Especially in those inefficient British factories. God. JUSTIN: Yeah, you have to call up the National
Tarp Board. [laughter]
SEAN: Just price controlled. ALICE: Yeah. You get the tarp five years after the disaster,
it just like arrives on a truck. JUSTIN: But it was only 20 shillings per square… I guess it would still be foot. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: So, in October of 1966, there were
three weeks of heavy rain in Aberfan. There was about six inches of rain, that was
mostly in the third week. So on the night of October 21st, the soil
tip sank nine to ten feet, right. ALICE: Ah, that’s good. Less spoil. JUSTIN: Yeah. That’s true. And the little tramway that brought spoil
up to the top, y’know, the track fell in the hole that was left in the top. SEAN: Uh oh. ALICE: Oh, now I’m feeling bad about this,
cause it killed a railroad. JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: Like, a tiny little mine cart, but,
like. SEAN: F’s in the chat, though, F’s in the
chat. JUSTIN: F’s in the chat. ALICE: Absolutely. JUSTIN: When the first shift came in the next
day at 7:30am, someone found out this had happened. And, y’know, they-
ALICE: Just sending… they send another minecart down and just heard a *thunk*. And just kept doing that for an hour. [laughter]
ALICE: And ran out of minecarts. [laughter]
SEAN: This is how 173 people died. *Thunk* *thunk* *thunk*. [laughter]
LIAM: Oh no… JUSTIN: So they got an inspector out, and
he was like, “Okay, we shouldn’t use this anymore, let’s start trying to figure out
a spot to put a new spoil tip,” right? ALICE: Mm. Fair enough. SEAN: Build another one! JUSTIN: Yeah, exactly. “Alright, move it somewhere else, yeah.” About an hour and 45 minutes later, um. ALICE: That’s never a good segue. LIAM: Ooh boy. JUSTIN: Spoil tip 7 collapsed. Now there’s a wave of debris about 30 feet
high, that travelled at 20mph down the hill, and just overwhelmed the village of Aberfan,
right? ALICE: Mm. JUSTIN: So, among the things it smashes was
the elementary school. ALICE: Of course. JUSTIN: [suddenly now Two Justins] Which is
this building over here, right? Now you can see sort of excavation vehicles
all around here, this is a picture taken well after the uh, the recovery effort had begun,
when it actually happened this would’ve been much deeper. [now a single unitary Justin again] This collapse
happened about 9:15 in the morning, right, so all the kids who were on time for school
had made it into school by then, right. ALICE: Nerds. JUSTIN: Yeah, exactly. ALICE: Playing truant will save your life. JUSTIN: I was about to say. Don’t arrive on time at school. You know what, this was a half day, too. LIAM: Yeah. Shouldn’t even have existed. Noon. JUSTIN: Do not show up for half days, period. SEAN: Yeah. JUSTIN: So, um, in the course of this, so
one of the first buildings it hits is the school, right, and y’know, blows through all
the windows, it goes in the classrooms, fills the whole place up. 109 of the 240 kids in there were buried alive. ALL: Jesus Christ. JUSTIN: Yeah. SEAN: Fuckin’ hell. JUSTIN: Mhm. ALICE: I was hoping that you’d say something
like, “Oh, it just demolished the school,” so at least it was fast, but no, you did not
say that. JUSTIN: No. LIAM: Nope. Can’t have mercy. JUSTIN: No. And there’s like stories of teachers, like,
y’know, putting chalkboards in front of doors and like, trying to shield the kids with their
bodies. ALICE: [distantly] Oh, cool. JUSTIN: But, y’know, it killed a lot of people
real quick. SEAN: Man, just fuckin’, like, 100,000 tons
of spoil coming down at you and you’ve got a chalkboard. What do you do? Man. LIAM: There’s a, there’s a story of I believe
a lunch lady, who shielded kids with her body, and when they dug her out of the wreckage
– obviously, dead – she’s still holding a pound note, because that was the lunch money. All the kids involved, that she had sacrificed
for, did survive, but there’s more than one story of people doing that and just being
absolutely crushed to death by the landslip here. ALICE: Well, this wouldn’t have happened if
we’d armed the teachers. [laughter]
JUSTIN: This is true, yes. They could’ve shot the spoil coming down. LIAM: The spoil full of bears, yes, thank
you Betsy DeVos. SEAN: We’ve had an active, uh, spoil spill. LIAM: Shoot it! Shoot it! [laughter]
SEAN: Though, I gotta say, man, this is in Wales, but if JD Vance, who wrote Hillbilly
Elegy, was around, he’d be talking about how these 103 kids could’ve been saved if it wasn’t
for single motherhood and alcoholism and drug abuse. It’s really, the reason these kids died is
a problem of culture. It was this Welsh hillbilly culture. ALICE: Yeah. For sure. JUSTIN: It’s unfortunate they didn’t have
a coding class. SEAN: Yeah, exactly. [laughter]
ALICE: I mean, apart from anything else, a computer’s a lot more solid and heavyweight
than a chalkboard. Easier to hide behind. SEAN: Right. JUSTIN: They have like, big tape drive computers,
and you just shove those in front of the door. LIAM: Yeah, nothing is getting through like
a 50s IBM mainframe, absolutely fucking nothing. SEAN: Let’s be honest with ourselves, if they
had had fancy fuckin’ computers back then, it would have just been the NCB running algorithms
to figure out how many tons of individual pieces of coal were in the actual tip itself,
right before it fell down. LIAM: That’s true. God, that’s what Nate Silver’s for, man. [laughter]
SEAN: Nate Silver’s second career. ALICE: Yeah, Nate Silvermine. [laughter]
SEAN: Oh, man. LIAM: I can’t wait for someone else to get
real mad at us because we made jokes. So, sorry in advance or whatever, but also
go fuck yourselves. ALICE: Yes. Also it’s Sean’s fault, because he picked
this one. SEAN: I did. Well, the other one that I picked first had
zero casualties, and it didn’t really land, so. ALICE: Oh, easy shit. JUSTIN: Also we’d have to criticize the Soviet
Union, which we don’t do because we’re good leftists, we’d never criticize the Soviet
Union. LIAM: No. SEAN: If you know anything about us, it’s
that we are good tankies. LIAM: Yes. Yes, that’s us. ALICE: If only the Attlee government had been
more Stalinist, this could have been avoided. [laughter]
JUSTIN: There should’ve been a sustained program of dekulakization in Great Britain. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. None of these kids would have been at school,
they’d have been fucking in a camp somewhere. Much safer. SEAN: At least in mines. [laughter]
SEAN: No casualties in the mine itself, right? So. All those kulak kids, tend to the shafts. [laughter]
SEAN: Ah, that’s dicked up. JUSTIN: Alright, so. 144 people were killed in total, while we’re
making jokes. There were very few injuries, this was something
where you either lived or you didn’t. LIAM: Yeah. SEAN: Ah, shit. JUSTIN: And so, rescue efforts, right. This is another view of the school, this is
from the side. Um, you can see a lot of miners coming out. And they’re trying to dig people out. The slide broke a water main, right, and as
a result the spoil tip continued to slowly settle through the village, until about 11:30,
when the mains were turned off. ALICE: Oh good. So you’re trying to get into this completely
wrecked school and it’s just throwing coal slurry at you. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. SEAN: This thing is just a living hellbeast,
it won’t die. ALICE: Mm. JUSTIN: The first miners got there before
the emergency services did, they showed up about 20 minutes after the slide. And they started digging in like a really
systemic fashion, so to prevent further collapses. Because, y’know, they’re miners, they know
how to dig stuff. ALICE: Autonomous community self… whatever. Cool. SEAN: Yes. You have your best men on the job. JUSTIN: And then, uh, later on, regular folks
started to come to aid in the excavation, with shovels and gardening tools, and the
miners were like, “We know how to dig. Go away. Go away. You’re making this worse.” ALICE: Mm. Autonomous community self… whatever, the
downside. JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: It’s not that weird that the miners
got there first though, because this is like the back of beyond, and like, at this point
Welsh rural police and like emergency stuff is like one guy and a dog, so. Also the dog is not particularly useful, it’s
not like a sniffer dog or anything, it’s just like an old sheepdog. JUSTIN: Yeah. And it’s asleep. ALICE: Yup. JUSTIN: It shows up and falls asleep. [laughter]
SEAN: I like how Alice is introducing people across the Anglophone world to Wales for the
first time. ALICE: Mm. Yes. I’m sure no-one will get upset with how I
characterize it. LIAM: Congratulations, you’re Britain’s Mississippi. [laughter]
SEAN: I was gonna say Long Island, actually, but Mississippi’s kinder. LIAM: Aww, Suffolk County. [laughter]
LIAM: As a Jewish man I am actually prohibited by Torah law from insulting the great region
of Long Island. Or I assume my rabbi will come down here and
beat my ass. And ask me why I don’t like lox.
[laughter] SEAN: I actually have a thesis about Wales
being the Long Island of Britain, but it can wait till later. LIAM: Fill the podcast out, it’s just you
reciting it. [laughter]
SEAN: A three hour bonus. ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: So they were, they started digging
real quick, but no-one was pulled out alive of the pile after 11pm that day. Or 11am that day, excuse me. ALICE: Jesus. And this happened like 9:30 in the morning,
when it actually tipped, right? JUSTIN: Yeah. ALICE: So that’s… yeah. LIAM: Feels like that’s similar to the Lac-Megantic
disaster, where it just kind of keeps going. ALICE: Mhm. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. Cause you either survived or you didn’t. LIAM: Right. There was a line in the wiki, I think about
the idea that after it stopped, sort of the noise, one resident recalled that, “In that
silence, you couldn’t hear a bird or a child.” ALICE: Yikes. LIAM: So just digging for your possibly dead
kid, in absolute total silence, would, I have no words for how horrible that would be. SEAN: Yeah. LIAM: …back to the jokes. [bleak laughter]
JUSTIN: Yeah. Lord Robans, of the National Coal Board… LIAM: BOOOOOOOOOOO
SEAN: BOOOOOOOOOO JUSTIN: Yeah. Was informed of the disaster almost immediately
after it happened. LIAM: What’d he do to fix it? JUSTIN: Oh, he decided, “I’m not gonna go,
because that’s gonna interfere with the actual rescue efforts, I’m gonna go… be invested
as the chancellor of the University of Surrey.” SEAN: Get the fuck out of here. LIAM: Ah, so noble. ALICE: So he got to like go to a party and
have like a little fucking ermine robe and a cap given to him, cool. JUSTIN: Yes. SEAN: He could’ve been deemed the… ah, I
had a joke about the University of Slurry, but it was really bad, so. ALICE: Awww.
[laughter] JUSTIN: So he never visited, though Prime
Minister Harold Wilson did visit that day. SEAN: King. JUSTIN: But, y’know, god forbid the National
Coal Board guy visits. ALICE: He said he didn’t want to, like, distract
from… distract the actual experts because he was just some asshole, right? Like… JUSTIN: Yeah, pretty much. ALICE: He was a layman or whatever. JUSTIN: Yeah, he said he was a layman. And it’s like, you’re in charge of the Coal
Board, dude. ALICE: Yeah, if you’re gonna get the special
number plate for the limo that says ‘NCB 1′, you should probably go to the thing. SEAN: I mean, bitch, anybody can use a shovel,
just put it in your hand and go for it, man. Coward. JUSTIN: If I get a car I’m gonna get a vanity
plate that says NCB 1. [laughter]
ALICE: Just put this on Liam’s van, yeah. SEAN: The most obscure reference of all time
in America. LIAM: I believe in you. SEAN: One Welsh miner will try to assassinate
you when he sees it. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So the um, uh, they were still digging through October 28th, that was when the last
body was pulled out of the spoil, um, and there was pretty immediately a fund set up
for the victims, which raised… I think one and three quarter million pounds
or something like that? LIAM: And that’s in 1966. JUSTIN: Yes. SEAN: Yeah, that’s good money. In 1966 money. ALICE: Absolutely, you could buy a lot of
racism with that. JUSTIN: Yeah. That’s back when you had shillings, too, so
everything was worth, like, 21 times as much. SEAN: And that’s before uh, two-tone ska solved
racism in Britain. [laughter]
ALICE: Absolutely. LIAM: Also I have bad news for you, Roz. NCB 1 is not available in Pennsylvania, someone
*already has it*. JUSTIN: Wow. ALICE: Well, we gotta find that guy. LIAM: Yeah. We’re gonna have to. SEAN: Justin, if you want that license plate,
you’re gonna have to put it on a shrinking corn cob, cause that’s what you are right
now. Owned. JUSTIN: I don’t know if you can register a
shrinking corn cob as a motor vehicle. ALICE: Eh. You can register the Weinermobile, right? JUSTIN: The Corncobmobile. LIAM: They were talking about selling the
Kissmobile, so you could buy that. JUSTIN: Ah, that’s true. Okay, so here’s a picture from… if we look
back here, we can see where spoil tip 7 was, and we can see how far it went. ALICE: Well, that answers your question about
which one it was on the last slide with these. LIAM: That’s true. ALICE: You can, like, if you go back to that
one, it’s like three slides back? You can get like a before and after. Yeah. JUSTIN: Yeah. There she goes. SEAN: That’s a lot of spoil. That school day was spoiled. JUSTIN: So, in the aftermath, of course, there’s
a big inquiry, and they sort of place the blame on the fact that, well, actually there
were no safety procedures in place for spoil tips anywhere in the world. Uh, not just Great Britain, but anywhere. No-one had ever thought this was a dangerous
thing, right? LIAM: That’s incredible. That’s genuinely fuckin’ incredible to me. JUSTIN: And… yes. As the Tribunal of Inquiry said, “The great
bulk of mining operations take place below ground, and most of the best men in the industry
are employed there.” Right? “It is there the coal is won, and in that
direction that the attention of those employed in the industry is naturally turned.” LIAM: That is some chicken shit. JUSTIN: “Rubbish tips are a necessary and
inevitable adjunct to a coal mine, even as a dustbin is to a house, but it is plain that
miners devote certainly no more attention to rubbish tips than householders do to dustbins.” SEAN: Uh, Justin, we lost Alice. [RIP]
JUSTIN: Did we? SEAN: Yeah, I saw her drop off, there was
a little notification. JUSTIN: Uh oh. SEAN: Yeah. I don’t know what happened. [I had a power cut lmao]
JUSTIN: Uh oh. Uh oh. Let’s see if she comes back. SEAN: Alright, I’m gonna pee real quick, I’ll
be right back. LIAM: Uhh, “taken the fuck out by a power
cut. Just keep going without me.” Alright, well. Alice is dead. Uhhhhhhh. JUSTIN: I’m also gonna use the restroom. LIAM: Goddammit, dude! JUSTIN: [laughing in distance]
LIAM: Alright. Since I am the only one recording… hi, everybody. Welcome to what is now just Liam’s Disastercast. Uh, we’re all very happy to have you, or I
am very happy to have you. Uh, today we’ll be talking about the disaster
that is apparently my living room, because I currently now have a rowing machine in the
middle of that. Uh, and now it is time to read the fanfics
on air. Um. Talk amongst yourselves while I get these
up. [humming] Doot. Doot doot. Doot doot doot. All that being said, actually, I kinda wanted
to say a couple of things, which is that uh, the… [noise] Please tell me someone else
is back, I’m strugglin’ here. JUSTIN: I’m back. LIAM: Thank God. I was, I was reading the fanfics live on air. JUSTIN: Oh, very nice. LIAM: Yeah. Um. JUSTIN: I wonder if Alice will have her audio. If she was attacked by Iranian hackers or
whatever. SEAN: Uh, I’m back. LIAM: Shall we just go on? SEAN: Is Alice gone for good? JUSTIN: I mean, good question. LIAM: Uh, taken out by a power… she lost
power, I think. SEAN: Oh, that’s because, like Donald Trump
said it, in Scotland with the wind farms, you get intermittent uh, electricity. LIAM: That is true, as we know. SEAN: Maybe we should just burn the coal the
whole time. JUSTIN: Mm, that’s what I’m thinking, yeah. LIAM: The thing that strikes me the most about
this fucking disaster is just the absolute, like, I feel like, not *uniquely* British
but very British kind of callousness about the whole thing? Where it’s just, people are, “Oh, we’re very
sorry you’re in mourning,” but also, “But how are we gonna pay for it?” In a way that’s just so, genuinely fuckin’
unbelievable to me. SEAN: This is the society that 40 years later
did Brexit. Callously, like, y’know, just hating on themselves
in the world because they’re pissed off about it, and the more I think about it, the more
I feel like this whole disaster was a kind of preamble to Brexit. LIAM: It’s insane in that, we’ll get into
it, but taking money from the survivors’ fund that they had raised themselves, to pay for
the removal of the uh, of the remaining tips. Shit like that, yeah, exactly, and they had
to pay it back many years later, but just like, I don’t understand how you can, like. At some point, it’s only going to be money. You’re the fucking princedom! SEAN: You’re the government!
[laughter] SEAN: You make the money. YOU MAKE THE MONEY. LIAM: You make it. Literally. SEAN: Oh my God. JUSTIN: So, um, no-one is found to be at fault
for this disaster personally, but the National Coal Board is found to be at fault generally,
and has to pay out compensation to victims, right? And they wound up… trying to pay out £50
per child. LIAM: I fucking saw that. SEAN: Get the fuck out of here. Get the fuck out of here. JUSTIN: And later they increased that to £500. SEAN: Fuck you! LIAM: Would you like to know how much £50
was in 1966? SEAN: Yeah. LIAM: £782. SEAN: FUCK YOU
LIAM: You’re talking maybe a thousand dollars per kid. I mean, that’s what it’s like, is just the
absolute fucking unbelievable callousness of this shit. SEAN: That doesn’t even come close to burying
somebody! JUSTIN: You could buy an Xbox for your other
kid. [laughter]
LIAM: Well, that is a good point. SEAN: Justin is voting for Andrew Yang, by
the way. [laughter]
SEAN: So if you just have a kid killed every year in a spoil collapse, it’s like that Yang
bag. Y’know, it’s like that thousand dollars a
month, or whatever. LIAM: Freedom dividend. JUSTIN: Yeah. Those Neetbux, for ‘Nephew Entombed Entirely
in spoil Tip.’ [laughter]
SEAN: So that’s what that stood for, I never knew that. JUSTIN: Yeah. SEAN: It’s a Britishism. JUSTIN: Alright. So, uh, Lord Robans got the whole report about
ten days before the media did, or any of the public did, about this whole incident. He decided to spend that time travelling around
the country, to campaign for the virtues of coal, and coal power, and how coal was what
made Britain great. LIAM: Oh, that’s bold. That’s bold! SEAN: He was Joe Manchin! Y’know? The Joe Manchin of the Labour Party. JUSTIN: Yes. And also to fearmonger about nuclear power,
which was increasingly popular in Britain at that time. SEAN: Aw, man. He’s not on your good side, is he? JUSTIN: [disapprovingly] Mmmmm. Mmmmmmm. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright, so they finally drew up some safety regulations around spoil tip design
after this, and the spoil tips were removed at Aberfan. It was a little complicated by the fact that
spoil tip 5 was on fire. Uh. SEAN: WHAT
LIAM: Sure. JUSTIN: I mentioned that… I read this in the report, I couldn’t do a
search to figure out *when* it caught fire. I assumed it had been on fire for a long time. SEAN: As happens, it’s just normal. It’s fine, this is great. JUSTIN: Stuff catches fire sometimes, and
sometimes it just doesn’t go out. LIAM: We should go to Centralia. SEAN:See some 50 million year old dinosaur
bones that just seem to want to burn forever. It’s fine. LIAM: On the plus side, when they increased
it to £500, that would be… £7,825 today, so you could buy yourself like
a Nissan Micra. SEAN: That’s nothing to shake a stick at. LIAM: That’s true. SEAN: But what was the 1960s version of that
car, though? It was probably one of those weird things
with three wheels? LIAM: Whatever sad Austin Mini. JUSTIN: A Morris Marina. LIAM: Aww yeah, buddy. SEAN: For one child killed in a spoil, you
could have a Morris Marina. JUSTIN: It was probably a British Leyland
something or other. From the, uh, coincidentally, NCB, National
Car Board. [laughter]
JUSTIN: There’s probably an actual name for it. SEAN: It took four years for them to come
off the assembly line, but man, that was some craftsmanship. [laughter]
LIAM: Being made in Britain just means that at some point the wheels are gonna fall off. JUSTIN: Now, interestingly, in hearings in
Parliament, Margaret Thatcher was a particular advocate for the village here, and getting
the spoil tips removed, y’know. Up until the point where the government would
spend money on it, right. So the cost of removing the spoil tips was
deducted from the victims’ fund. LIAM: Yeah they were forced to pay it, in
contravention of, uh, British law. And the Charity Commission, the group set
up to prevent shit like that, just stood by and did nothing. So. Fuckin’, absolutely terrific work there, folks. JUSTIN: Yeah. And then later in 1989, uh, Margaret Thatcher
closed the mine. So, y’know. SEAN: It started with Thatcher and ended with
it. This is crazy, because-
ALICE: [back] Hey, I’m back! SEAN: Alice is back! Hey, I was just about to do a historical materialism. ALICE: Awesome. I love to do historical materialism, I also
love to have my power go out in the middle of recording a podcast. [laughter]
LIAM: That’s what you get for relying on wind power. ALICE: Absolutely. [laughter]
JUSTIN: It’s probably Iranian, uh, cyberterrorists. ALICE: Yeah, that’s true. You can’t, like, store power so. [Trump voice] Folks, there’s no wind, and
when there’s no wind, there’s no power, very bad. SEAN: What it was was, off the coast of Scotland,
a beautiful rare flock of birds not seen in that area for 50 years went past the wrong
place and just got liquidated, just got completely destroyed, and that’s why she lost power. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. Absolutely. So there’s gonna be a gap in my recording
at about, I dunno, 49 minutes in, where I just fucking die. And then come back. LIAM: Oh, congratulations on your resurrection. ALICE: Absolutely. JUSTIN: Everyone can just hear the rest of
us milling around in confusion. LIAM: I was gonna read the fanfics, although
I couldn’t find them on my phone. So I’m gonna have to get them back somehow. SEAN: Shall I do historical materialism? JUSTIN: Yeah, that’s what we were gonna do,
let’s do historical materialism. SEAN: Let’s do it. So, like, what’s fascinating to this story,
cause we talked about the contradictions within this sort of Keynesian postwar consensus,
and how you had to fill employment, um, you also had to have some productivity gains at
the same time, you had kind of heterogeneous national economies, where the heights of industry
were nationalized for the national interest, with this kind of soft social-democratic welfare
state that existed at this time, and *then*, early on in 1966 when this disaster happens,
killing all these kids, you have the scion who appears, Margaret Thatcher. And she is directly of the effects of British
state capitalism, right? Which, like, not directly, but at least indirectly
this entire edifice, this social-economic edifice, kills all these fucking children,
it’s Margaret fucking Thatcher, fucking thirteen years before she comes to power, who steps
into the breach as the harbinger of a new social order of a new order, of neoliberalism,
so this is a very, this event is pregnant. Pregnant with the future. As Margaret Thatcher destroys the mining union,
25 years after that, and eventually they reprivatize the mines and they go away. So this is a perfect story, not just Brexit,
but the entirety of neoliberalism. Alright. No more historical materialism, done with
it. Done now. [laughter]
SEAN: Backslash historical materialism. JUSTIN: Damn, I had some much more facile
lessons to be learned here. [laughter]
ALICE: Did you – while I was dead, did you talk about them uh, making the victims’ fund
pay for cleanup? ALL: Yes. ALICE: It’s wild. [laughter]
SEAN: Alice, you’re British, what do you… is that normal there? What the fuck? ALICE: Erm… I think it sort of used to be? Like, this kind of like… Britain is a dismal country, and so our flirtation
with socialism had to be tempered with absolute paternalistic dipshit cruelty. And so, yes you can have nationalized industry
but it will be the kind of nationalized industry that is like, [nationalized industry voice]
“Oh, sorry we killed your kid, here’s £50. Also we’re taking £25 of that back to pay
for cleaning up the, y’know, corpses.” SEAN: Ugh. ALICE: Because we’re pisspigs! We’re a nation of pisspigs, and we love it. Um, yeah. Incidentally, how much is £50 in today’s
money? SEAN: Oh, we gamed it all out. Liam’s got it. ALICE: Oh, you do? LIAM: Yeah, like £782 I think. ALICE: £782.41, awesome. SEAN: For a child. For a dead child, yeah. ALICE: Yeah. Cool. You can buy… I don’t know, what can you buy with £700. You could buy like a Playstation? Uhhh. JUSTIN: I said Xbox earlier but yeah. LIAM: Fuckin’ console scum.
[laughter] ALICE: You could not buy a good gaming PC
with your dead child money. SEAN: We had the Eagles-Giants and now it’s
Playstation-Xbox, oof. JUSTIN: Look, we can’t say, we cannot say
‘PC gaming master race’ here, so- ALICE: No. JUSTIN: So I say PC gaming Soviet Socialist
Republic. [laughter]
ALICE: New Soviet Gamer. JUSTIN: Yeah, the New Soviet Gamer. LIAM: Have you heard of this new game, Workers
and Resources: Soviet Republic? JUSTIN: BOOOOOOOOOO
[laughter] ALICE: I tried that, I tried that and I could
not figure out power generation, so in that respect I was absolutely accurate about playing
a Soviet bureaucrat. I was just like, [bad Russian accent] “Why
does number go up, but power not happen. Ehhhhh I don’t understand.” [laughter]
ALICE: And then I just gave up, which is sort of like the equivalent of being reassigned
to manage a shoe factory in Kazakhstan. [laughter]
SEAN: That game got weird. LIAM: I worked with an ex-Soviet man, he and
his wife had emigrated I think in like 94 or 95, and he was just a delight, because
every so often, he would threaten our boss? But like he was a physically imposing man,
he was probably like 6’7″, 6’8″, and our boss would be like, oh, y’know, whatever dumb productivity
bullshit capitalism, and he would just stand over him and say [bad Russian accent] “What
you say to me?” And there was no problem. Alright, yeah. Get his ass.
[laughter] SEAN: We should open up Russian immigration,
just so that every workplace in America can have one of those guys. ALICE: Mm. SEAN: That might help us against state capital. LIAM: Nicest guy! SEAN: We need to work our way *up to* this
kind of state capitalism that kills your children, is the sad part. JUSTIN: Yeah. SEAN: That’s what Bernie Sanders is fighting
for. [laughter]
ALICE: We had that choice with Corbyn and we turned it down for more privatization!
[laughter] JUSTIN: If only mining disasters killed your
children, instead of only being unable to afford insulin. [laughter]
ALICE: I tell you what, there is a silver lining to this, which is that if your child
dies, you save a lot on insulin. JUSTIN: This is true, yes. LIAM: My favourite part about when we go to
Canada is our inevitable, “Yeah, I’m just gonna go and buy a bunch of cheap insulin
over the counter. In addition to goddamn Tylenol 1,” because
it’s still OTC there, thanks Canada. SEAN: Hell yeah. See, if you brought the Russian guy over from
the old Soviet Union, he could take that and turn it into krokodil for you. LIAM: Ohh, I would party my nose clean off
my face. ALICE: The reverse of this is that one of
the silver linings of the destruction of the Soviet Union is that estradiol, aka the pills
wot you take to make you transgender, are available over the counter in Russia. SEAN: Boom. JUSTIN: Very nice. ALICE: I know, right? Yeah, you can just pick up a whole fucking,
like, stack of them. JUSTIN: [bad Russian accent] “You want be
girl? You can be girl.” [laughter]
ALICE: Most efficient allocation of tits in the whole fucking world, yeah. LIAM: Who says capitalism doesn’t work. Or the collapse of capitalism, or whatever
the hell. SEAN: It was the gains made by the Soviet
Union, the historical gains, that allowed Russia to have what it has today. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: The absolute, the best dashcam videos
in the world. Uh. SEAN: And it was the losses of British social
democracy that led to the losses of Britain today. ALICE: That’s true, our dashcams are shit. It’s just like, two very red men, trying to
slap each other and then someone gets stabbed, it’s dismal. LIAM: Goddamn English. ALICE: Yeah… SEAN: Fuckin’ English. JUSTIN: Alright, so I was gonna conclude by
saying that, y’know, my less historical materialist lessons from this, I guess, are, maybe don’t
hold the threat of closure of the mine over your workers, because, y’know, that may restrict
them from saying “Maybe we should fix these safety issues.” And I guess even nationalized industries are
subject to these pressures. ALICE: When you run them like a capitalist,
a state capitalist enterprise, absolutely. LIAM: Yep. JUSTIN: And don’t concentrate all your health
and safety efforts around the money-making part of the business, which. Which is what happened. ALICE: No. Fun fact, the head of the National Coal Board,
the lord we were talking about, his job in later life, his sinecure that they gave him
after this was, uh, the inquiry that developed extant British health and safety law. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. SEAN: So he failed up. ALICE: Oh yeah, he sort of invented self-regulation,
where you would just decide for yourself that your workplace was safe. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yeah. That was also what I was gonna say. LIAM: It works, goddammit. JUSTIN: Yeah. So, self-regulation, I mean, you can’t argue
with results. When was the last time a mine slide killed
a hundred kids? ALICE: Mm. LIAM: That is true. ALICE: Doing the sort of tapping my temple
– can’t have a mine slide disaster if there’s no mines. JUSTIN: Yes. You can outsource all your mine slide disasters
to the Third World. ALICE: Look, different places have different
safety standards, And That’s Okay. LIAM: UGHHHHHHHHHHHH
SEAN: Alice Yglesias over here. [laughter]
ALICE: God, that fucking column is like, I don’t know. You take psychic damage from thinking about
it. SEAN: When they sent that satellite into space,
when they put all the nice music and the pretty pictures, they should’ve sent that Matt Yglesias
article into space to let the aliens know who we really are. ALICE: Yeahhhh. Although, it’s kind of fucked up that the
Voyager Golden Record has an introduction from the Secretary-General of the UN, who
was a legit Nazi war criminal. SEAN: Hell yeah. ALICE: So that’s like our, like, eternal um,
like, record. Of humanity. Is we have this fuckin’ Nazi going like, “Hey,
check out all of our cool cultural stuff.” SEAN: Klaus Barbie in space. ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: Here I was thinking it’d be Kissinger. [laughter]
LIAM: Listen, he didn’t become a war criminal until he got here, man. ALICE: That’s a success story, yes. Horatio Alger. SEAN: Imagine if Kissinger ran the National
Coal Board. [laughter]
LIAM: Mad because there’s not enough dead. ALICE: We have to expand the coal slide into
neighboring villages. [laughter]
ALICE: It’s the only way we can defeat these villages. JUSTIN: “Very safe, we only killed 100 kids.” SEAN: We had to landslide the village in order
to save it. LIAM: Well, now we’ve all been cancelled. For the thousandth time. ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: Yes. LIAM: Sorry folks. Or whatever. JUSTIN: But we hope you’ll hold off on our
cancellation long enough for us to put out our next episode, on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
disaster, of course. ALICE: Of course. LIAM: Finally. SEAN: Can’t wait. ALICE: And we’ve got a Patreon episode in
the works, too. JUSTIN: We do. ALICE: Gonna be, uhhh, Liam’s van, right? LIAM: It is literally gonna be, yeah, my van. So that, I’m in the process of writing that,
as well as starting recording that, but yeah. So, enjoy 45 minutes to an hour and a half
of me just bitching and moaning about the L-31 engine. [laughter]
ALICE: Van content, yeah, no. It’s gonna be great. SEAN: Liam Anderson, man with van. LIAM: Yeah, Liam Vanderson. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Okay. Well, that’s the end of the episode. Who wants to pitch stuff? ALICE: Uhhhh, listen to Trashfuture, we have
a podcast, it’s very good, we have a Patreon too, we’re doing… we’re calling this season
two, after we all got owned in the British election. LIAM: And for every van… ALICE: Yes! New year, new me. SEAN: Uh, yeah, listen to Trashfuture, it’s
one of my favourite podcasts. ALICE: Aw, thank you. SEAN: Check out Justin’s excellent Cities:
Skylines shit on YouTube.com. Listen to this podcast a lot, but then when
you’re not doing that, listen to The Antifada, my podcast. You can find it wherever free podcasts are
sold. I’ve got some exciting new history episodes
with your friend Matt Christman coming up very very soon. You can follow me on Twitter.com, @TalentedVoter,
and uh, yeah, I’m hype to be here, one of my favourite shows, this one as well. ALICE: Oh, our pleasure. JUSTIN: Yes, thank you. LIAM: Am I going? ALICE: Yeah, go ‘head. LIAM: Alright, so, I am @oldmananders0n on
Twitter, my name is Liam Anderson, uh, I by and large am just an asshole in our YouTube
comments, and on our Twitter comments, when you dumb fucks wanna be transphobic and gross. We are getting around to all the fucking episodes
you people have mentioned, but Roz has to write them. And prepare slides. ALICE: Yes. LIAM: Uh, yeah, definitely go listen to Trashfuture,
it is an extremely good podcast, uh. Bring back the Deadcast I guess. ALICE: Mm! JUSTIN: Yes. RIP the Deadcast, now dead. LIAM: Oh, and just to be an asshole one more
time, pronouns are ‘he/him’, suck a dick. ALICE: ‘She/her’! SEAN: Podcast hoes die mad. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Also ‘he/him’. I don’t have to pitch anything, because Sean
did all the work for me. ALICE: Distribution of labor, yeah. SEAN: I’m a good union man, what can I say. Now we can slack off, guys, it’s a five hour
coffee break. [laughter]
LIAM: We’ll also put some sad coal mining songs in the YouTube description. ALICE: We should get some like, we should
unionize podcasters. I want to be in an International Brotherhood
of Something. SEAN: That is so good. I can’t really do a card, but I’ll help you
form it. ALICE: You know what I want? I want one of those stickers you put on the
hard hat that says like “UNION, MOTHERFUCKER” and there’s a dog. SEAN: Alice, I’ll send you one! ALICE: Yes! SEAN: I’ll send you a ‘union, motherfuckers’
sticker for your hard hat. ALICE: [genuine glee] Yes please. [laughter]
LIAM: Left unity is important. JUSTIN: [union voice] Ey uh power to da union,
ey. ALICE: AFSCME! ALICE AND LIAM: It’s ya fucken union!
[laughter] JUSTIN: AFSCME’s da union dat works fah you!
[laughter] LIAM: Is that a podcast? ALL: Yeah. TWO JUSTINS: Bye everyone! TWO ALICES: Bye! SEAN: What do I do now, do I hit stop recording
and send it to you? JUSTIN: Yes, please.