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July 05, 2011


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I can't believe it.
I can't believe it.
I can't believe it!

You didn't use the line on your girlfriend, "Well, since we only have 30 minutes to live we might as well.....you know"

Bet you wish you could get a do-over on that one.
( : - )

So I was young and stupid, reb. Now at least I'm not young anymore.

I think there is a documentary out or being produced about that Soviet officer. It's the world's good luck he didn't follow protocol (fully knowing the SNAFUs of soviet technology). That the old farts in the Kremlin thought Reagon was enough of a nutjob to try a first strike says more than I can say. Gorby showed the world his bark was worse than his bite, no one was paying attention.

Also, the Grand Canyon Caverns has a nice stock of CD supplies and was also designated as a fallout shelter.

From Soleri, in Ambition Defict.
"This is happening because America is in the midst of a profound religious reawakening."

I have been saying this since 1949!

Jon, would be interesting to know what brought this "Nuke" on.
Nostalgic Martini's?
How's the next big novel going?

It's not surprising that your devotion to the GOP waned in direct correlation with your inclination to be scared shitless.

I was 14 in October 1962 sitting in a class at Sunnyslope High when the history teacher announced we were being sent home because the Cuban missle crisis appeared headed to nuclear armageddon. Normally I would have been happy to get out of that place but that pleasure was counterbalanced by my shaking knees and short breaths.

I grew up watching those films of nuclear tests in Nevada and New Mexico. Over and over I'd watch those dummies getting blown away in a firestorm. I scratched obsessively at my own skin to see if there might be a loose splinter. Somehow, it was more fascinating than disturbing to know the elements of human frailty as long as I wasn't the one getting vaporized.

Thinking back, I wonder how we squared that existential dread with all the silliness and inanity of post-war America. Later, I guessed it wasn't really that difficult. Indeed, one made the other possible since life can't be just one thing or another. Maybe it explains why even though we don't have a similar dread today, we're also not nearly as happy or confident about the future.

The fallout shelter business hatched a lot of insoluble ethical puzzles. Would you let your next-door neigbhors in even though there wasn't really enough food and water for them? And how long would you have to stay down there? What would it be like to live in a post-holocaust wasteland? The more I thought about it, the less I wanted the adventure.

There was a ray of light in 1963 when JFK signed a test-ban treaty with the Soviets. This was the beginning of detente, and it promised to highlight the difference between two Cold War hawks, JFK and Goldwater. One was calm and the other was scary in his apocalyptic bombast. Later, the war in Vietnam channeled that dark strain in the American psyche and we stopped worrying about nuclear war almost entirely.

Civil rights and the counterculture along with the Vietnam war changed everything. We went from a nation united in fear of the Soviets to a nation at war with itself about our primal identity. Who are we anyway? If we don't all think and feel alike, what good is it being an American? I feel this wound today like it was still 1968. That external cosmic enemy became the sty that distorts everything we see. There are sorrows of the empire and sorrows of the flesh. In this land of plenty, that is the curse of too much.

One outcome of the scary times of the cold war is that we have many fellow citizens who go on living their lives in their "sheep" mode because they are convinced that our country (Empire) will end in one big, temporarily painful, flash of light. Why worry about issues if in the end, poof, it's over. When I try to explain to them that it is more likely that death to our empire will come from the bleeding of a thousand cuts over a long period of time, they look at me with glazed eyes, dreaming of the white flash.

The population has been Hollywooded into a trance. Really bad people are taking advantage of this trance.

"There are sorrows of the empire and sorrows of the flesh. In this land of plenty, that is the curse of too much."
Et tu, Brute

The Cold War was a fiction established to prepare a generation of children for Hollywood movies based on the comic book heroes of childhood.

Marvel is the puppet master. Think about it.

Wait, didn't the US win the cold war? Didn't the nineties triumphantly confirm the model of democracy and capitalism everywhere? How come fear and loathing returned with such a vengeance? Was there some kind of horror vacui horroris? Fear of losing it all?

Preexisting fissures in the American fabric were maybe not such a problem until the interstate highway system, domestic air travel and massive population increases came along. People still have to learn how to live together. Maybe I'm delusional and asking too much. It's natural to want to have a private castle one can retreat to if the frictions of an inhomogeneous population become too much. The Big Sort is purportedly "tearing us apart". A troubling development but there could be a benefit. The notion of a big family under Reagan was always bullshit.

From the guy who predicted today's "low-intensity conflicts":
"He asks, rhetorically, if even ethnic cleansing could be a preferred scenario. "No," he says, "my name is not A. Hitler.""

And on nukes:
"It's not simply a joke when I say that it would be good for the peace process if Syria were to get nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have done more for peace and saved more lives than anything or anyone else."
-- Martin van Creveld, Israeli military historian

AWinter, What you think about Jared Diamonds work.

Growing up during the same period as you Jon, the threat of nuclear war did not effect my psyche except for the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was more unsettled by racial tensions and riots.

The US military and federal government were largely seen to be as much of a threat in my city as nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Mistrust for federal authorities arose from the consequences of the passage of prohibition, the behavior of the FBI, and the red baiting of the McCarthy era. Barry Goldwater was also viewed as a fringe candidate of the far right.

haven't read his book yet, it's on my list. He's cautiously optimistic about our civilization, though I wonder how much power and wisdom we really have to decide our future.

Hope you're surviving the dust storm:

Wonder what surprises await us as the future unfolds? Will the hazards be man-made planetary degradation? Will they come in the form of a "haboob" in global financial systems? Or will the nuclear loonies like Achmendini-whatsis precipitate a Mid-Eastern armageddon that puts us back on bicycles? No doubt that propeller-heads somewhere have put probabilities on these. Makes a mere u-boat attack seem like a pimple!

Looked like the Sonoran desert of the fifties yesterday.

So was the dust storm really as bad as the media are portraying it?

No. It was probably the worst one in a couple summers, but by no means was it anything so far out of the ordinary to warrant the attention it is getting. However, with media hype and short-term memories as they are, it was apparently the worst storm ever.

It was as big as we have had for sometime but not as big as I have observed since 1950. The media was what was out of proportion. You know we did away with science in AZ and we have set an official day for the monsoon to begin. "And the dogs sat around the campfire and debated whether man ever exited or not." Simak 46

The Chinese are not our debtors, they are our creditors. Great post otherwise. Sent here from Reality Based Community blog, pleased to learn of your great blog. Thanks for your work.

JMG, mea maxima culpa. Thanks for the catch. This is the peril of working without the crusty old copy editors of newsrooms past.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is being refitted with parts from China.

U.S. Military clothing (e.g. boots, hats) is made in China.

Our future as a nation is being made in China.

China is making too much of our junk, especially that which is available in Walmart. However, the DoD by law must purchase military uniforms from domestic producers (from textile to final sewing).

Going out and finding American made goods is a damn chore; interestingly, if you do find American made goods they aren't nearly as expensive as one would think.

In parts of Arizona we were subjected to the fallout from the atomic testing in Nevada. Even today folks who develop certain kinds of cancer and can prove residence are eligible for a government award.
Truly, we have experienced some scary times.

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