[Beowulf] Re: "hobbyists"

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Sun Jun 22 08:33:09 EDT 2008

On Sat, 21 Jun 2008, Geoff Galitz wrote:

> If I might complete devolve the thread and go waaaay off-topic.  Does anyone
> remember the movie Failsafe?
> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058083/
> http://classicfilms.suite101.com/article.cfm/fail_safe

Of course, book and movie.  Or even better, Dr. Strangelove:


Peter Sellers in three roles including the incredible Dr. Strangelove
himself.  George C. Scott as a general.  James Earl Jones' film debut.
Slim Pickens riding a fusion bomb down to start the holocaust.  The
Doomsday Device.  What's not to like?

Then there was Alas Babylon, a GREAT book and mediocre movie:


This was more or less a template for what might have happened if the
Soviets hadn't backed down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or if any of
the many little conflicts around the world had heated up to boiling, or
if the MAD policy ever became unbalanced because one side or the other
gained too much advantage.  No nuclear winter (even in florida) though
-- it hadn't been hypothesized yet.

There was the BBC "civil defense movie" The War Game that was made to
illustrate the dangers of a nuclear war to the public that is even today
scarier in its own way than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre:


It describes a scenario where China invades South Vietnam in the mid
60's, the US authorizes the use of tactical nukes to stop them, the USSR
threatens to start the long awaited war in Europe by taking Berlin if
they do, they do, they do, the US tries to retake Berlin with Nato
forces in an overland invasion but get their ass kicked, they use
tactical nukes there, and a "limited" strategic/tactical war begins in
Europe (leaving the US and USSR out of it per se).  The movie covers the
physical consequences of a bomb that strikes a city as a "miss" of an
attack on a nearby strategic military target.

There is a whole literature on this -- apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic
views of nuclear war.  On The Beach.  Five Signs from Ruby.  A Boy and
his Dog.  Damnation Alley.  Mad Max.  Daybreak, 2024.  The Day After.
One of my favorites:  A Canticle for Liebowitz.  I read 'em, or watched
'em, all.

The executive summary:  Nuclear war is a really bad idea.  It is hard on
children and pets.  Nobody is likely to "win", and worse, once the
possibility exists at all, sooner or later it will happen, then happen
again, because we can't/won't learn, because we are flawed creatures,
because even if 99.999% of the population acts against it it only takes
one nut case seeking purity of essence acting for it to make it happen.
It won't QUITE end the human race altogether -- On the Beach was pretty
much the only one to allege that it would and it was almost certainly
wrong -- but it could knock us back to anywhere from the stone age to
the dark ages for thousands of years and kill anywhere up to 90% of the
global population and leave huge tracts of land uninhabitable for those
thousands of years.  Friends don't let friends use nuclear bombs.


> Geoff Galitz
> Blankenheim NRW, Deutschland
> http://www.galitz.org
> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
> Behalf Of Geoff Jacobs
> Sent: Samstag, 21. Juni 2008 07:54
> To: Glen Beane
> Cc: Beowulf List
> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Re: "hobbyists"
> [stuff snipped]
>>> That's why I think nuclear weapons are hardly a mean to kill military
>>> troops on a battlefield.
>> Strategic nukes, no.  Tactical nukes, yes.
> Now find an effective way of preventing a tactical exchange from
> escalating to a strategic exchange.

Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
Book of Lilith Website: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Lilith/Lilith.php
Lulu Bookstore: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=877977
Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit http://www.beowulf.org/mailman/listinfo/beowulf

This message has been scanned for viruses and
dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
believed to be clean.

More information about the Beowulf mailing list