Sunday, August 24, 2014

program notes

You can´t tell which players are which without a program, and you don't know where you're going without a road map.

A map of the US today would show two regions: Upper U.S. and Whompon U.S.

Upper U.S. is the suburb. It´s Bellevue, or Upper Arlington, or San Anselmo, or any of the places where the men get in cars 
5 days out of 7 and drive a long, tedious commute to "work," while their women stay home, get the kids off to "school" (day prison), then sit around watching daytime TV and making gay potholders out of their husbands old socks.

Whompon U.S. is another story. People tend to spend more time on the streets there, because dwellings are crowded and there´s nowhere else to go. This is inner suburbs, or the parts of big cites that are neither rich nor gentrified...yet. There´s little regular employment except for shit jobs, and Whompon, U.S. can be occupied at a moment´s notice by an army which, though composed of fellow Americans, might as well be from Bulgaria, or Outer Mongolia, or Lower Slobbovia, or Tierra del Locos.

There is no contact and little understanding between the regions of the dis-U.S. of America. And it´s the same between the army which periodically occupies Whompon U.S., and the occupied.

BUT...the reality is that we are all in the trenches.

At a time like this, when Ferguson, Missouri, located, of course, in the Whompon region, is invested by a hostile army, we think of the victims of the occupation as the front line troops in a struggle for democracy and freedom. But the reality is that due to the nature of modern war, we are all, rich and poor, residents of Upper U.S. as well as denizens of Whompon, in the trenches.

If the local police have overpowering weapons such as armoured vehicles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, warfare-grade gases, flash grenades, rubber bullets and wooden discs, how much more powerful are the weapons of the national police force, i.e., the standing military?

Even though the entire world is in the front lines of any nuclear exchange, we tend to never think about the meaning of nuclear weapons, because actually using them is literally unthinkable.

But we need to think about them, because this is reality. And survival.

The Calculus of Destruction

Little Boy, the bomb with which the U.S. destroyed Hiroshima 69 years ago, yielded 13 to 18 kilotons of explosive force. So let´s say a 15 kiloton bomb, which is 15,000 tons of TNT = 15,000 x 2,000 = 30 million pounds of fresh dynamite, less than a pound of which (one stick) would blow a good-size hole in the house you're sitting in right now.

                                                                           LittleBoy / Fat Man

The Fat Man bomb, dropped on Nagasaki a couple days after we nuked hiroshima, yielded a harvest of 21 kilotons, somewhat larger than the previous one. However, these were both tiny little nukes compared to the big boys of our own generation. The smallest warhead carried today by our fleet of Trident Nuclear submarines is the 100-kiloton W76, while the W88 tips the scale at 450 kilotons. A single W88 warhead is 30 times the size of the bomb that leveled Nagasaki, shown here the day after it was destroyed by a lone aircraft dropping a single bomb.

We tend not to think about those earlier bombings too much because they happened "a long time" ago. Few of us ever reflect that even thinking about using those earlier, comparatively tiny weapons was  brash, unwholesome, and awesomely perverted. But Harry Truman went further, and actually pulled the trigger. This also set a horrible precedent; henceforth no one could pretend that there was no one in the world crazy enough to actually use nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon, in its mission to protect and serve the citizens of the U.S., is currently deploying 22 Ohio-class nuclear submarines, powered by nuclear generators, enabling them to stay submerged at sea for months at a time. Each is armed with up to 24 Trident missiles; each of these missiles carries up to four independently-targetable re-entry vehicles, and each of these is tipped with a nuclear warhead with a "yield" of between 100 and 450 kilotons, each many times the size of Little Boy and Fat Man.

We could go on to multiply the number of warheads per ship (up to 96) times the number of boats (22), and factor in the total kilotonnage and megatonnage, but that would be depressing, and we already know enough to know what must be done.

The only way most of us are able to deal with this information is to put it our of our minds, but that´s no answer. The biggest monsters have already been defanged -- at one time the U.S. deployed weapons with "yields" of 9,000 kilotons, one of which might have been suficient to bring on nuclear winter. We backed away from that cliff, at least -- all of the super-nukes were decomissioned some time back. But anyone who thinks that our systems are fail-safe, ad there won´t ever be a catastrophic accident with these fkng things is makng like Pollyanna. We've already come way too close way too many times, and the only good thing about such an occurrence is that the survivors would finally be forced to wake up to the reality caused by complacency, which plays us very false.

But we don´t have to wait. Kos ran an article yesterday which detailed how the residents of Ferguson,  Missouri, if they got their shit together and worked united, could fire the entire police force of their town, and hire a new one. We could get rid of nuclear weapons tomorrow, if most of us simply decided it was going to happen. We really don´t have to live this way.


Joe said...

We are all in this together is a good way to see things.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

hey, Jee, great to see you, and i sgree. Let's start wth the things we ALL want -- safer neighborhoods for esxample -- and go from there.