Interview with Tim Westmyer, AOMD Episode 022 – Natasha Bajema

Interview with Tim Westmyer, AOMD Episode 022


Welcome to the episode number 22 of the Authors of Mass Destruction podcast. My name is Natasha Bajema, aka WMDgirl on Twitter. I’m a fiction author, national security expert and your host for this podcast.

  • If you’re interested in science & technology, in reading good fiction, or want to write fiction based on technology, you’re in the right place.
  • Before we get started, a few notes:
    • The views expressed on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
    • The AOMD podcast is proud to be part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Check us out at
    • If you enjoy my podcast, I hope you’ll become a patron for only a few dollars a month at Patreon at– p a t r e o n / natashabajema
    • As a patron, you’ll be able to submit questions to the show and get access to tip sheets on nuclear weapons.
  • Personal update – Only one more episodes before I take a one-month vacation. I expect to be back on the air the Sunday after Labor Day and am planning to focus more on biological weapons this next season.
  • On that note, my headline for this week is “House orders Pentagon to review if it exposed Americans to weaponised ticks,” published on July 16 in the Guardian.
    • US House of Representatives has called for an investigation into whether the spread of Lyme disease was caused by the U.S. Army’s biological weapons program between 1950 and 1975.
    • A few things:
      • Insects have long been considered as potential vectors of disease. The Japanese dropped fleas on cities in China infected with the plague
      • The U.S. government developed biological weapons starting in the 1940s during WWII until 1970 when the U.S. signed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which entered into force in 1975.
      • This research took place at facilities such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York.
      • During the 1950s, the U.S. Army conducted bioweapons tests using simulant bacteria on U.S. cities such as San Francisco; the U.S. Army also conducted tests on human subject volunteers.
    • A new book published in May by a Stanford University science writer and former Lyme sufferer, Kris Newby
      • Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons
      • Snippet from Book Description: “While on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Kris Newby was bitten by an unseen tick. That one bite changed her life forever, pulling her into the abyss of a devastating illness that took ten doctors to diagnose and years to recover: Newby had become one of the 300,000 Americans who are afflicted with Lyme disease each year.
      • As a science writer, she was driven to understand why this disease is so misunderstood, and its patients so mistreated. This quest led her to Willy Burgdorfer, the Lyme microbe’s discoverer, who revealed that he had developed bug-borne bioweapons during the Cold War, and believed that the Lyme epidemic was started by a military experiment gone wrong.”
    • Follow up piece in Defense One by Katie Bo Williams and Patrick Tucker, “Did the US Invent Lyme Disease in the 1960s? The House Aims to Find Out,” on July 18
      • Defense One interviewed Richard Pilch, who leads the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, who “said evidence exists both to support and refute the conspiracy theory.”
        • Closest mainland town to Plum Island is Lyme, CT, the place where Lyme disease originated in 1975.
        • The bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi existed in North America for thousands of years
  • Let’s get to the interview. This week, I talk to Tim Westmyer, host of the Supercritical Podcast and we overthink pop culture. We talk about how nuclear weapons are portrayed in HBO’s Game of Thrones and Chernobyl Mini Series.

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