Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ah, for the Good Old Days: BBC Nuclear Doomsday Script Released

Kids these days: Sure, Al Qaeda is a problem, Russia showing signs of wanting an empire is a concern, and North Korea is something between a problem and a side show.

But, back in my day, we had real problems to worry about!

Nostalgia: Memory With the Color Control Set to "Rosy"

Some people see the fifties in America as "happy days:" sort of like "Happy Days," but without The Fonz. For others, it's the sixties that were the grooviest, man.

I remember the sixties, and part of the fifties, and I'd rather not go back, thank you. Never mind what it was like for a high school student who wanted to take shop, if she was a girl, or the way men were mocked if they were seen holding a baby in public.

That was the period when the bottom dropped out of the bomb shelter business, when people realized that it didn't matter if you survived the initial attack. If you were still alive after a full nuclear exchange, the odds were pretty good that you'd traded a relative quick death for a slow, agonizing one.

Granted, that's close to a worst-case scenario, but it could have happened. The Cold War was definitely not fun.

These days, all we have to worry about are crazed religious fanatics beheading people they don't approve of (Al Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorists blundered when they made beheading the signature Islamic execution method).

Wait. I forgot: there's more. Russia may be trying to rebuild its empire. North Korea and Iran are most likely within a decade of having nuclear weapons, and one of those countries has a dictator who inspired the phrase, "our dictator is crazier than your dictator:" and the other is run by some of those fanatics I mentioned.

Still, Islamic terrorists and other assorted crazies with nukes aren't likely to have more than a dozen or so bombs. That's chicken feed, compared to the arsenals built up in the "good old days."

I'd say that even people living in major American cities have better odds now, than at the height of the Cold War. I'm no expert, of course.

Great Scott, Man! What Set This Ramble Off?!

I ran into a couple of headlines today. Over in the United Kingdom, the National Archives released the draft of a BBC script that would have been read after a nuclear attack. The draft of the message begins:

"This is the wartime broadcasting service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons." (

The Associated Press headline emphasized that the message was to be taped.

To Tape, or Not To Tape, That is the Question

Actually, there was some discussion about that.
  • On the one hand, if the Voice of BBC was unable to make the announcement, the British people might not feel that the BBC was really still there
  • On the other hand, if the Voice of BBC repeated exactly the same announcement, over and over, at regular intervals, the British people might not feel that the BBC was really still there
The point is, BBC was to England what Walter Cronkite was to much of America: I gather that the feeling was sort of, "there'll always be a BBC."

Those Were the Good Old Days

And you can have them. I like (some of) the art, music, and fashions of the fifties and sixties, but I'm profoundly glad that I live now.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.