Article – Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True

Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.

If you havent read it, Stephen Hunter (of “Point Of Impact” fame) wrote a terrific book, The Day Before Midnight, about some guys busting into a launch facility to do a little DIY WW3. It was a really great book and would make an awesome movie. It’s my favorite book of his, narrowly edging out POI. And, yeah, it’s a little derivative of “Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Anyway, the gist of the article is that despite the protestations of the military and the government, there have been times when the ability to launch nukes on one’s own has been possible. I suppose in Cold War planning that made sense – if command-n-control is knocked out there has to be a way for weapons to be used without authorization from the smoldering radioactive ruins of DC.

I mention this because it’s a fascinating little bit of history that sort of segues into preparedness. For those of us who grew up in the world of first strike, second strike, MADD, and Minuteman missiles its rather interesting.

The article is also  interesting because it details how the .gov tried to balance a very complicated equation – nukes had to be tightly controlled so no one could go off-kilter and start WW3 on their own, BUT there had to be mechanisms in place to allow an individual command to launch independently if higher authorities were disabled/destroyed. The solution (if you want to call it that) was two-man rules, no-lone-zones, layers of verification, split codes, and a few other ‘team’ requirements. Basically, it was a lot like having two names on a checking account…without both people signing off, nothing happens. (At least, thats the plan anyway.)

And, to segue to a slightly less on-topic matter, it’s interesting to note that while it supposedly takes more than one person to launch a nuclear attack, it has historically taken only one to prevent it.

Although there is the premise of the rogue individual starting WW3,  most folks are unaware of the rogue individual who prevented WW3. There are at least two Soviet officers (here and here) who, when given the opportunity to allow a some fissionable matter to do its thing, said nyet and prevented what might have been the start of WW3.

Interestingly, once you start looking into these sorts of matters you discover there have been quite a few times that we’ve been just a phone call and a button press away from having a nuclear exchange. Nowdays I suspect the incidence of nuclear war is fairly low but the risk of nuclear attack is unchanged or perhaps a bit higher. Somewhere there is a cargo container with a couple nuclear artillery shells in it just waiting to go through the Port of Seattle or somewhere similar. I mean, you look at the numbers and you realize there is a huge amount of smaller, less dramatic nuclear devices out there…man-portable stuff that some zealot can stuff in the back of a Cessna 182 and detonate over pretty much anywhere. There’s a lot of those little nukes out there..artillery shells, torpedoes, ‘special weapons’, demolition packages, etc, etc….stuff that fits into a 55-gallon drum or smaller.

Anyway, an interesting article for those of us who have an interest in control (or lack thereof) of these sorts of things.

 

 

Unexpected packages

A surprise in the mail today….Station Eleven: A novel … My first thought was that it was an advance copy from some author or his/her publisher. No, turned out someone liked it and thought I might like it as well. So…to that benefactor, thanks muchly and I promise to read it soon and post about it.

 

Its pretty hard to find good post-apocalyptic fiction so I’m always eager to try something new.

Starship Troopers quote

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

From the scene shortly after a child-killer is executed by hanging:

That night I tried to figure out how such things could be kept from happening. Of course, they hardly ever do nowadays—but even once is ‘way too many. I never did reach an answer that satisfied me. This Dillinger — he looked like anybody else, and his behavior and record couldn’t have been too odd or he would never have reached Camp Currie in the first place. I suppose he was one of those pathological personalities you read about—no way to spot them.

Well, if there was no way to keep it from happening once, there was only one sure way to keep it from happening twice. Which we had used.

If Dillinger had understood what he was doing (which seemed incredible) then he got what was coming to him. .. except that it seemed a shame that he hadn’t suffered as much as had little Barbara Anne — he practically hadn’t suffered at all.

But suppose, as seemed more likely, that he was so crazy that he had never been aware that he was doing anything wrong? What then?

Well, we shoot mad dogs, don’t we?

Yes, but being crazy that way is a sickness—

I couldn’t see but two possibilities. Either he couldn’t be made well in which case he was better dead for his own sake and for the safety of others—or he could be treated and made sane. In which case (it seemed to me) if he ever became sane enough for civilized society. .. and thought over what he had done while he was “sick”—what could be left for him but suicide? How could he live with himself?

And suppose he escaped before he was cured and did the same thing again? And maybe again? How do you explain that to bereaved parents? In view of his record?

I couldn’t see but one answer.

…..

I wondered how Colonel Dubois would have classed Dillinger. Was he a juvenile criminal who merited pity even though you had to get rid of him? Or was he an adult delinquent who deserved nothing but contempt?

I didn’t know, I would never know. The one thing I was sure of was that he would never again kill any little girls.

That suited me. I went to sleep.

 

:shrug::: Crazy people do crazy things because…they’re crazy. When someone commits a heinous crime all the hand-wringing in the world about why and how are pointless – they do it because they’re insane. It’s really that simple. You cannot prevent someone from doing it, but you can prevent them from doing it twice.

Heinlein gets a rough rap about Starship Troopers but, much like Ayn Rand’s stuff, if you can get through it you certainly do wind up doing some thoughtful examinations about the philosophies within. Might not agree with them, but at least you think about things in ways you hadn’t before…that, to me, is the sign of good literature.

 

Books – ,Rawles’ new book

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

I was going to purchase a copy of ,Rawles’ new book the other day,( Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse ), but am seeing some not-so-good reviews on Amazon. Has anyone read it yet and can tell me if it’s worth shelling out the greenbacks? I enjoyed his first book and was hoping he might catch lightning in a bottle again.

Book – “Invasion” by Eric Harry

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

As many of you know, the recent re-make of ‘Red Dawn’ was tweaked ‘slightly’ in post-production. The original bad guys were changed from Chinese to North Korean. Nevermind that those two countries have a vastly different level of military capability. The change was, ostensibly, to make the movie more marketable in the lucrative Chinese market. The more likely reason is that when the original outfit that made this movie went under, it was bailed out by another outfit that had some close financial ties to the Chinese. In short, they didn’t wanna offend the new owners.

Anyway……

I was reminded of a book with a very similar premise – ‘Invasion‘ by Eric Harry. In the book, the Chinese invade the mainland USA in a conventional-weapon operation after isolating the US from it’s allies. The book is full of the things that make an ‘Invasion USA’ scenario interesting – the Special Forces stay-behind doing his one-man war in the captured South, quislings, super-weapon designers, political intrigue, etc, etc. Realistic? Probably more so than Red Dawn. A good read? Well, entertaining, certainly. It isn’t exactly Tom Clancy but it’s a step up from your average post-apocalyptic novel (no cannibal looter army, for example).

Like a lot of books I found fun to read, this one is outta print but used copies abound. If you want something to read to warmup to the new Red Dawn remake, this would be an excellent choice.

Link – Hazlitt’s ‘Economics in one lesson’

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Hazlitt’s ‘Economics in one lesson’ is, I think, an excellent book. It’s very dated material, since it was written shortly after WW2 when the economy was very different than it is now, but it’s one main message remains: “…the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

Long-term thinking….yeah, I’m a fan.

Anyway, here’s an online copy for you to read at your leisure. You may not agree with it, you may think it is simplistic, dated, or biased in some areas, but it does get you to think.

How does this relate to preparedness? Well, first of all, looking at the long term effects of things is definitely in the realm of preparedness. Secondly, understanding why some things in the economy happen the way they do is also a big advantage…forewarned is forearmed, and all that.

I’d be interested in hearing the opinions of those of you who read the whole thing.

Books – Pt. IV

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

With GPS built into just about everything, most folks don’t put much effort into land nav anymore. I’m not saying you have to get uber-geek about it, but you should be able to read a map and figure out simple things like azimuths, bearings, etc, etc. Someday you might need to leave someone a message (ideally it would be encoded) saying something like “12 U 300015.6 539714.70″ or the more cumbersome “48 41 43.07377 N 113 43 3.95584 W”. (Who is gonna be first to leave a comment telling me whats at that location?) Without at least a background in basic land nav (and perhaps a small map overlay), you’d have a hell of a time finding that on a map. More importantly, when you hide something somewhere out in the boonies…a cache, a body, a bunker…you wanna be able to tell people how to get there and nothing conveys precise locations like grid coordinates.

Be Expert with Map and Compass – This is the classic book on the subject and, really, it’s very good. It is also probably a bit overkill and intimidating for many people. No mistake, it’s an awesome book and one that should be right there in your library. I like the thoroughness of it, but it can be kind of daunting…it’s the War and Peace of land nav. However, you should have it because you can always learn just what you need at the moment and then come back later and learn more.

Map Reading and Land Navigation: FM 3-25.26 – I don’t come across many military maps but it’s still good information to have. Much of the information is fairly dated, which means if you’re just planning on navigating with a simple magnetic compass and maybe a protractor, then this is a great book to have. I don’t know if there’s a more modern version that covers GPS systems, but still, this book is a good one to have as well.

Compass & Map Navigator – This is actually my favorite book, which is kinda odd since this book is sort of a ‘Fisher-Price’ version of the previous two. However, it is terrifically illustrated, concise, and explains things quite well.

Although these aren’t books, they sorta segue in there. There are plastic overlays for use with regular topo maps and UTM coordinates. This is the one I use: Improved Military UTM/MGRS Reader & Protractor “Super GTA”. These things are awesome. When using the UTM system it lets you locate positions on a map down to the meter, although I usually just go down to a 10m^2 level of detail. If you havent used the UTM system, it’s wonderfully simple and since it uses regular numbers instead of degrees, minutes, and seconds, it allows easier calculations. My favorite example is finding the distance between two points on a map – point A and point B. With UTM you find the difference between the two axes, slap on a little pythagorean theorem and – presto- theres your distance. Good luck doing that with longitude and lattitude.

Civil War II: The Coming Brakeup Of America – avail. online

Via merccom: Civil War II: The Coming Breakup of America is available for download on the internet.
Link: http://www.geocities.com/anakonda_fi/

I read it when it first came out. Its definitely a button-pusher on racial issues but some of the things it foretold have come to pass. An interesting read if nothing else. Grab it before its free hosting goes down.

The role of fiction, book, Leatherman, gas prices

CBS premiered ‘Jericho’ the other night. Its basically “Alas Babylon: The Series”. Reviews, as seen across the various preparedness discussion groups and forums is mixed. I liked it but then again there isn’t much to compare it to…which makes sense, I suppose…theres not much drama (read: marketability) in a show where a huge crisis occurs and the population is…just fine. No, the drama sells…the people stuck in elevators, the homeowners huddled in the living room hearing strange footsteps on their porch as the camera closes in on the image of the doorknob slowly turning…that sort of thing. A show where the lights go out and someone simply fires ou the 5kw and enjoys a cup of coffee just doesn’t have much watchability. I think I gave my impressions of the show a few posts back. It seems it is trying to use the formula that has made ‘Lost’ (or as I call it ‘Gilligans Island Of Dr Morreau’) so successful…complex mysterious characters and events that are introduced but not explained until later, long story arcs, backstories shrouded in mystery, etc… Theres certainly entertainment potential here, its just a matter of how waiting to see how its used.

It does bring up an interesting topic, though. What role, if any, does fiction play in an individuals plans and perperations? Some would say that reading books like ‘Lucifers Hammer’, ‘Alas Babylon’, or even Aherns pulp series ‘The Survivalist’ do absolutely nothing except provide ‘action hero’-style entertainment. I agree somewhat but I think that it is important to have read some of the ‘classic’ fiction on the subject (and Im counting LH and AB as amongst those classics). Why? Because even if the situations are outdated, unrealistic or, in Aherns case, just plain over-the-top they encourage you to think about those situations. After all, in order to say ‘that scene with the [fill in the blank] was so unrealistic!’ means you had to think about how you’d manage in a similar scene ‘in reality’ and thus you are made to think about situations and predicaments you may not have thought about in the past. Example: in Alas Babylon the residents of the small Florida town suffer an intensely hot summer and realize that they don’t have enough salt to replace what theyre sweating away daily…and upon further investigation realize that it also has myriads of other uses that would have made having a large quantity of it handy. Many people, Im sure, hadn’t thought about just how much salt they might need to sock away and even if there was a real need for it. So, in this example, reading fiction opens your mind to things you may not have considered.

Another example: In Lucifers Hammer one of the characters has no useful skills, no great talents, and has a couple strikes against him in terms of his physical condition…but he becomes a crucial member of a local outfit because while he has very little skills and talents he does have a very large collection of very, very useful and relevant books. And while Im sure you and I have thought of this sort of thing before, it may have opened the eyes of others to the need for some very good reference material.

My point here isn’t to cite examples or to garner comments about what you’ve learned from fiction. Nah, my point is that fiction has a place in the preparedness lifestyle and that this series, which may very well turn out to be very short lived and somewhat technically inaccurate, could have some value for making a person think about situations or problems that they hadn’t thought about previously.
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Finished ‘World War Z’ the other night. Its okay. Definitely better than Stephen Kings hackneyed ‘Cell’. The book very much would fly as a movie. It could be told in narrative with all sorts of neat flashback scenes to various conflicts and events. Hard to believe the guy writing it is the son of Mel ‘Blazing Saddles’ Brooks. Who knew?
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I continue to be very pleased with the Leatherman Wave multitool. I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a good pocket tool. In fact, I may be getting an extra or two. I use the knife blades more than anything else but the screwdrivers and scissors come in quite handy too. Good ergonomics and a generally well thought out design. Me recommend.
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Local gas prices dropped another six cents overnight. Its now hovering around $2.56/gallon. When it gets below $2.50 I’ll rotate out the stored gas. Might pick up an extra can or two and increase the storage as bit while Im at it.

Summer hats. MHFD, books

They may have lost the war, conducted Mengele-ish medical experiments, pressed wome into service for ‘comforting’ their troops and generally have been as bad as the Nazis but they did have a nice hat.
Observe the Japanese soldiers hat for tropical wear:

While most Japanese military gear was outdated or inadequate (relying on a soldiers fanatical loyalty to make up the difference) this hat must have made an impression because its so damn ubiquitous in most outdoor catalogs:

LL Bean makes one
As does REI
Patagucci Patagonia too
And here’s the Columbia version I was generously gifted with last week

So I’ll be trying it out in the summer Montana sun and will let you know how it works out. I’ve usually just used a boonie hat andhave been overall satisified with it so we’ll see how this fares. For the record, this type of cap is referred to as a ‘bimini cap’ in many places.
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The Mountain House ‘three day emergency kit’ of food I ordered from Amazon arrived the other day. They were closing them out at 1/3 off regular price. Its basically just a cardboard box with the standard foil pouches inside. I didnt really need it but I figured I might as well get it since there wasnt much at Amazon I wanted at the moment.

Still, you cant really have too much stored food.
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Hey, speaking of…Im reading a new TEOTWAWKI book…“Dies The Fire”…part, apparently, of a trilogy of books. Sure, its no ‘Survivalist’ series 😉 but it reminds me very much of Lucifers Hammer which I think we can all agree was a pretty good read.

The one thing harped on in this book over and over and over is that when you have food and others dont, those normally peaceful civilized soccer moms and golfing dads become real dangerous, real fast. All the more reason to make sure that those kitchen shelves stay full. Im about 70% through the first book and I like it very much. The reason for the EOTW in this book is insanely stupid, but the resultant situations and scenarios are not and thats making it worth reading.