1983: The Year the World Almost All Died

Cast your mind back to 1983 when the cold war was heating up. Then President Ronald Reagan carried a cavalier attitude against the Soviet Union, calling them “evil” such as this speech from March 8 1983: In your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride, the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. The bold was added by this author. Rather than tact or diplomacy Reagan had taken policy into a fuzzy metaphysical world of good versus evil. A new military policy was introduced of Psychological Operations (PSYOP) on an extreme scale later that year. Just […]

Robot A-10s, Just Chillin’

Your Countdown to Skynet news of the day: DARPA’s looking to wire up stock A-10s to fly by remote control to provide on-demand death from above. The Pentagon’s advanced research arm wants an aircraft 30 miles from a firefight to be able to attack within six minutes of a request by a JTAC. The airman would access the plane’s targeting sensors, enter coordinates to multiple targets and send ammo flying. Officials with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency expect to award a contract for the venture later this year; a live-fire demonstration is proposed for the last quarter of fiscal 2014. The contractor will modify an A-10 already in the fleet. Now I’m not saying that some AI will inevitably hack into the system and send squadrons of flying tanks hither and yon seizing power for the Roomba elite.  I’m just saying that we welcome our new robot overlords and […]

Animals at War

Following up on yesterday’s post about the Taliban’s dastardly plans to pit monkey mettle vs. the infidels, I got thinking about humanity’s tendency to enlist our animal friends in human wars.  While animals were absolutely vital to pre-modern combat–war horses, Hannibal’s elephant, pack mules, homing pigeons–the advent of mechanized warfare has made animal contributions to human conflicts somewhat more rare.  Still, the 20th century and the early 21st have seen their fair share of attempts to ace the enemy in hand-to-paw/flipper/wing combat.  Dig, if you will: The U.S.’s Bat Bombs – In the midst of WWII, someone got the bright idea to try to make a wide ranging cluster bomb out of hibernating bats, an empty bomb canister and small, bat-sized incendiary bombs to burn down Japanese villages.  Yeah.  Never got beyond the testing phase, due to it being a largely Rube Goldberg approach to a tactic that Curtis LeMay […]

"Nuts to War!" Disney's Dinosaurs Show the Horrors of War

Remember that big rubber suit sitcom Dinosaurs?  Remember how it was the most incisive social commentary on television?  No?  OK, so you just remember wearing a t-shirt from K-Mart that said “Not the Mamma!”   Fair enough.  But the show had its moments.  And apparently the whole run is on YouTube, including the 1992 two-part parable about the Gulf War where the dinos go to war over pistachios. Of course, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Iran is the world’s largest producer of pistachios, giving the whole deal a bit more modern resonance.