You’re Invited: Mothball Fleet Revealed

Geotag Icon Show on map April 29th, 2011

By Jonathan Haeber

Years ago, I – along with two other friends – laid the groundwork for one of our most daring explorations yet attempted. We knew the waters were fraught with the danger of being caught, but we arranged our plans to mitigate those risks. Though the news has been out for some time, the actual story is yet to be told – at least until May 7th, 2011, when four of us – including one photographer who gained official access, Amy Heiden – will be presenting never-before-seen images of the Suisun Bay Naval Reserve Fleet [RSVP Here].

I’ve written about the fleet here before – heck, I’ve written about it twice for good measure – and I’ll be writing about it much more in the future, given that there is now a treasure trove of images to reveal.  However, the full story will not be posted here today. I’m simply here to announce the event. For months, we’ve contemplated how to make our journeys public, and we wanted it to be done in person among the the link-minded.

Let the images below be your teaser. Come for the show to see them all. For less than the cost of a big-budget Hollywood thriller, you can see real adventure in action. Hear about our close calls, dangerous mishaps, and the details of the exploration that I’m most proud of.

The truth is, many of the ships that you will see in this show are long gone. The only record of their existence, other than in the memories of the men and women who served on these ships, will be the photos that we show on May 7th. Few photos or blueprints exist, and I’m proud to say that we served some small part in recording their history.

Under the cover of darkness, among the broiling waters of the San Francisco Bay, through a myriad of toxic ships – we’ve emerged from our adventures with a better understanding of where and who we now are as a nation. Come hear our stories, see the prints, watch the slideshow. I hope to see you there, so that you can share in our wide-eyed amazement at these intricate, well-engineered relics of mankind.

Saturday May 7, 2011 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

$8 at the door

Workspace Limited

2150 Folsom St.
San Francisco, California 94110

Press Release


Japan’s Nuclear Reactor Cutaway

Geotag Icon Show on map March 15th, 2011

By Jonathan Haeber

Click on the image above to see a full-scale [6MB], poster-size scan of a Japanese advanced boiling water nuclear reactor [ABWR]. Though the image above is NOT the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor, it closely resembles the design of that plant. You can also download the PDF here.

A few quick notes (though the major point of this post was to show off this amazing cutaway). Japan is a world leader in utilization of clean, nuclear energy, and produces about 34% of its energy with its 50 nuclear reactors. To hop up on my soapbox for  a brief moment, allow me to say something about the tragic events in Japan, in order for us all to maintain a clear head, in spite of the destruction and pandemonium being played up in the media:

  • The amount of radiation currently leaking into the atmosphere from Fukushima Dai-ichi is about as much as you’d get from eating 1-2 bananas a day for a year [source]. Granted, this could quickly change, but for now it looks relatively benign.
  • Radioactive isotopes that are released do not last millions of years, as is commonly thought. The half life of the two most common isotopes from fallout (caesium and iodine) is 30 years and 8 days, respectively. This means that most radiation from a nuclear disaster will naturally decay quickly. [source and source]
  • Burning coal for power is 100 times more radioactive than the radiation from nuclear waste [source]
  • Litigation and regulation are stalling 351 U.S. energy projects that could create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase the nation’s gross domestic product by $1.1 trillion. [source]
  • The U.S. and Russia has a stockpile of outdated, dangerous plutonium from Cold War weapons. What would normally be stored as nuclear waste could be re-processed into fuel (MOX) to provide a low-carbon source of energy. Highly-enriched uranium in US and Russian weapons and other military stockpiles is equal to about 12 times the annual world mine production. [source]
Litigation and regulation are stalling 351 U.S. energy projects that could create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase the nation’s gross domestic product by $1.1 trillion.

San Francisco World’s Fair in Photos

Geotag Icon Show on map February 10th, 2011

By Jonathan Haeber

Some of the most fervid of fans of Bearings may have wondered where the posts have been. I haven’t been entirely inactive, and the bulk of the time normally spent on Bearings has been spent gallivanting around in abandoned locations, figuring out a way to recover a hard drive, and applying for grad schools. But the one really exciting project I’ve undertaken lately is an in-depth look at Treasure Island – site of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition.

The San Francisco World’s Fair of 1939 – known by aficionados as the “Pageant of the Pacific” – was held on what was at the time the largest manmade island in the world. The $50 million dollar Treasure Island became a symbol of hopeful optimism, Great Depression-era government largesse, and a fervent trust in science and engineering at a unique juncture in history. Treasure Island, Atlantis-like, arose in the middle of a metropolitan center increasingly aware of its influence in the Pacific Rim. And it foretold the impending war in ways that is often eerily prophetic. Famed sculptor, Ralph Stackpole centerpieced the island with a giant idol to Pacific culture known as Pacifica. Bearings favorite, Timothy Pflueger (who you may know through our post about exploring the Pac Bell Building) had a hand in multiple buildings on the island. Miguel Covarrubias painted gigantic murals measuring as much as 24 feet across depicting the Pacific Rim. It was there, on Treasure Island, that America hosted its first Michelangelo.

This post is the repository for an unprecedented collection of San Francisco World’s Fair images, memorabilia, artwork, architectural plans, and advertisements. It was a labor of love for a frenetic four months of my life last fall, and it is the product of days – nay, weeks – of aggregate time spent at the Bancroft, Richmond, Moffitt, and San Francisco City libraries. I thank the Bancroft Library for finally laxing their once-draconian requirement that nobody can take images of Bancroft materials. They now allow photography for a nominal fee.

I do not claim to own any of the copyrights on these images.  The truth is, many of them are nearing their copyright expiration; many are orphan works, whose artists remain anonymous yet have impacted my research in a big way. I’m simply here to bring these images to the light of day. In another post, soon (I hope) I’ll post the result of my research – a look at the corporate motivations in the propaganda and art of the fair, particularly in the remaking of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition as the harbinger of a new era of limitless consumption, leisure, and clandestine corporate imperialism in the Pacific Rim. We still live with that legacy today, but the exposition was simply a manifestation of its powerful crafters’ ideological ambition, so I don’t hazard to blame the exposition itself. Without further ado, I present to you the largest known collection of exposition material yet made available online.

The San Francisco Exposition Collection

Below are 500 images from the San Francisco World’s Fair. These images were collected over a two-month research project on the corporate motivations of the Golden Gate International Exposition. They contain images of Treasure Island, Pan Pacific Clippers, Advertisements, Art Work, Guidebooks, Collectibles, Brochures, Architecture, and more. Images also include the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. All images have been painstakingly tagged and captioned.
Click below to see the images.