i hadn't laid eyes on a golden-winged warbler in years and at first i couldn't believe what i was seeing until someone else called it - 2016-11-14
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nuclear war, not just a job, it's an adventure
2003-02-18 - 9:56 a.m.
When I was a senior in college, the Navy tried to recruit me for
their nuclear submarine program. Don't laugh. Well, OK, laugh.
Now you may well be wondering, as was I, what in heck they wanted
a woman for in a nuclear submarine program since I would not be able
to stay on the submarine. They said I would be helicoptered1 out
to whatever submarine I was needed to inspect and then helicoptered
off again. After some probing and taking of tests and listening of
bullshit from the recruiter -- who among other things, promised the
BF of the era that he could get him a job flying an F-16 which
went totally over the top as far as believable was concerned because
the Navy had multiply rejected him for health reasons due to the
fact that he was substantially under the weight limit
-- then I established that
basically the Navy needed some women with the right degree and
the right grades and the right test scores to be photographed
at graduation ceremonies and shaking hands with Admiral Rickover and
basically just performing your standard duties of a token decorative
object who could be pointed to as proof that the Navy had moved into
the twentieth century in re the feminism thing. In exchange for all
this posing and shaking of hands and smiling and pretending that
I was doing actual work even though I couldn't stay on the submarines
I was supposed to be working on, the recruiter assured
me that when I finished the four year program, then nuclear power
plants would be lining up to pay me $55,000 a year which was like,
oh, $150,000 or $200,000 a year today.
I noticed that the Navy itself wasn't going to suddenly up my pay
in four years to that level, which is probably why they needed to
keep recruiting so desperately. Unfortunately, since I was a physics
major (duh), then I knew perfectly well that the nuclear power
industry is unsafe and pretty much immoral for a civilian industry because
there is no science providing even a hint
of a way that the radioactive waste problem can ever be solved. And if I took that path,
then pretty much the rest of my twenties if not the rest of my life, would
be dedicated to earning money doing something that I knew would
kill people without their consent or knowledge. Who wants to spend
the rest of her life thinking, every time you hear of a kid with leukemia
or Down's syndrome, "Did my contribution to the background radiation
get that one?"
So I politely told
the guy that I needed to think about it and then kind of hid from
him forever afterward.
My BF was only a little bitter and only occasionally brought up the
"fact" that he could have been training to fly an F-16 instead of
toiling in a lab as a graduate student.
What brought all this to mind was that
the video store gave us a coupon for a free movie the other day, and
BF picked out K-19: The Widowmaker, the "based on actual events"
story of a cursed Soviet nuclear submarine.
It was set in 1961, when
despite the cry of "missile gap," the Soviets had nothing much in
the way of delivery systems, and so they thought they'd fix up this
fancy submarine to hold up their end of MAD2 by patroling offshore
the Atlantic Coast. Of course it never got there because of cheap
Soviet glue-and-sticky-tape technology. In fact, it was so badly put
together that the reactor tried to melt down -- twice. To add to their annoyance, an American destroyer kept
hanging around offering "assistance," which the Soviet commander assumed
was a code word for the Americans taking the men into custody and
interrogating them and also taking apart their submarine bolt by bolt
to figure out or else just laugh at the aforementioned glue-and-sticky-tape technology. Which while the movie
hinted that the
commander was a bit of a martinet was probably a pretty reasonable
Supposedly if the submarine core had melted down, it would have set
off the nuclear bombs, blasting the pesky American destroyer out of the ocean,
and igniting the destruction of Europe. The movie said "world," but
since it was established early in the film that the K-19, which would
have blown up, was the only Soviet submarine capable of delivering
nuclear bombs to the United States, I think a more probable chain
of events is: 1) U.S. would retaliate with an attack on the Soviet
Union. Since a military target (a destroyer) was attacked, then perhaps
we would do the decent thing and target a military target in return.
2) Then the Soviet Union would either surrender or sort of surrender
while crying "accident," or escalate by bombing sites where American
troops were based in Germany. 3) If the Soviets went with the
escalation option, or the U.S. refused to accept their
surrender and/or excuses, next would come total war in Europe
and perhaps Asia, Middle East, and Africa, although not all areas would
be affected by nuclear war.
4) Ultimate result: American hegemony.
The alternate scenario, which the movie makers believed that the Soviets
believed would happen, is: 1) U.S. would retaliate by launching
ICBMs against Moscow and Leningrad. 2) Soviet Union would retaliate
by launching whatever they had wherever it could reach -- again,
Germany seems highly likely to be reduced to radioactive dust under
this scenario. 3 & 4) same as above.
Why, at times, do I have a sick feeling that today's "leadership" would
have been perfectly happy with such an alternative history?
Of course, a third scenario would have placed the
Soviet ICBMs already in Cuba at this date3, providing the Soviets with an alternate
method of taking out the Atlantic coast and indeed pretty much leading to a classic
Mutual Assured Destruction World War III Alas, Babylon event. Ultimate result:
Brazilian hegemony. So, you see, there's a lot to take into account
when you're war-gaming.
1I'm fairly sure that "helicoptered" is not the approved
Navy term. Helicopter'd? Choppered? Zoomed? Beam me down, Scotty?
2Mutual Assured Destruction is a game generally understood
to require at least two players in order to properly frighten the citizens
out of their
3It has been claimed that one of the reasons the Soviets
were so flabbergasted about the Cuban Missile Crisis is that the missiles
had actually been in Cuba for some time, not the few weeks or so claimed
by the Americans, and they couldn't figure out why the Americans suddenly
wanted to make an issue of it. This isn't totally unbelievable to me, since
the CIA of that era was no more "ept" than it is today, so it isn't
completely unlikely that they would have missed some fairly large missiles
sitting around 90 miles offshore Florida for a year or two. They didn't
manage to blow off Castro's beard with that box of exploding cigars, either.
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