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Wind socks


Every day I drive through the Naval Weapons Station at Seal Beach. It’s more than five thousand acres of empty space, dotted with bunkers and buildings and railroad track, storing all sorts of shells, bombs, missiles and other ordnance. It’s nice, in a desolate way. Every half a mile or so, there’s one or two huge palm trees, surrounded by absolutely nothing. You can see for miles across the base.

At the corners, and at the gates, are giant orange wind socks on poles. At first I thought they were for gas shells or nerve agents, so you could tell which way the wind was blowing in the event of a leak. But the military claims to have disposed of most of those types of weapons. Burning missile fuel is quite toxic in its own right, however. If a bunker full of rocket motors lit up, the billowing clouds of smoke would be considerable.

Wind socks. They’re pretty, despite their reason for being.

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