MADness and North Korea

“I told myself I won’t be the cause of World War III,” recounted Stanislav Petrov, a Russian hero of the Cold War, of an incident in which “Soviet early warning satellites had detected the long-feared American nuclear strike” but “he came to the conclusion that something wasn’t right. Instead of notifying the chain of command of impending doom, he recorded the moment as a system malfunction.” He was right, of course,[1] and his story joins a few others that I have been accumulating in which somebody in the right place at the right time made the right call, saving the world from nuclear Armageddon.[2] Continue reading “MADness and North Korea”

  1. [1]Public Radio International, “The unsung Soviet officer who averted nuclear war,” September 21, 2017, https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-09-21/soviet-officer-who-averted-nuclear-war
  2. [2]I assume there are many more stories like these: Michael Dobbs, “The Photographs That Prevented World War III,” Smithsonian, October, 2012, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ist/?next=/history/the-photographs-that-prevented-world-war-iii-36910430/; Robert Farley, “How the Soviet Union and China Almost Started World War III,” National Interest, February 9, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-the-soviet-union-china-almost-started-world-war-iii-15152; Geoffrey Forden, “False Alarms in the Nuclear Age,” Nova, November 6, 2001, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/nuclear-false-alarms.html; Sébastien Roblin, “The Terrifying Tale of How One Russian Submarine Almost Started World War III over Cuba,” National Interest, June 22, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-terrifying-tale-how-one-russian-submarine-almost-started-21270; Edward Wilson, “Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, the man who stopped nuclear war,” Guardian, October 27, 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-stopped-nuclear-war

My generation

I was eight years old for the Summer of Love, and geographically, not even all that far away, living in an apartment in San Francisco’s Richmond district on the north side of Golden Gate Park, just a block or so south of the Presidio which was then still an army base.

The Summer of Love centered in the Haight-Ashbury, to the east of Golden Gate Park and south of the “panhandle.” Other social movements, including the Black Panthers and anti-war movements, whose legacies are all but lost, arose in the East Bay. Continue reading “My generation”

The corruption of the Left

Signs such as in the photograph are less common now but, for a time, were ubiquitous throughout many neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland. The signs are meant as a rebuke to Donald Trump and to those who voted for him and they are part of a #Resist movement against his presidency.

I have no disagreement with any of the sentences in themselves. As a critical theorist, however, I have other reservations. Continue reading “The corruption of the Left”

The Ethics of our Society

Not so long ago, as my living situation seemed more tenuous, I appealed to my supposed friends to help connect me with a job. My social network has been the only way I’ve connected with gainful employment—with only two exceptions, both dating back to the late 1970s and 1980s—in my entire adult life. And it has become clear over the sixteen years since the dot-com crash that applying for jobs is fruitless: I have obtained exactly one interview in that entire time from an application. And my social network hasn’t been much help either: That one interview is out of four total, yes, in that entire sixteen years.

I was pressuring my friends, some of whom earn six-figure incomes, to do more and it didn’t go well. Their response was, in essence, to continue applying, even for jobs I can’t see myself doing and certainly don’t reflect my talents, and they didn’t seem at all concerned that continuing with this pattern might mean homelessness. One even dared to say to me that “it [applying for jobs] doesn’t work until it does.”[1]
Continue reading “The Ethics of our Society”

  1. [1]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/

The Left may be about to claim a Pyrrhic victory

Note: This is the third in a series of blog postings emanating from work originally compiled for a Daily Bullshit entry. That text has now been moved here.

With an increasingly likely early departure of Donald Trump from the presidency, the Left may be about to fool itself in a few ways. Continue reading “The Left may be about to claim a Pyrrhic victory”

Forecasting Donald Trump’s demise

Note: This is the second in a series of blog postings emanating from work originally compiled for a Daily Bullshit entry. That text has now been moved here.

Update, August 21, 2017: When I originally published this entry, on August 19 at 1:10 pm, I failed to cite a source for my claim that Trump had flip-flopped on who was to blame for Charlottesville. Since then, the Los Angeles Times has published an article specifically documenting the flip-flops.[1] I have added the reference to the original.


Following Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House,[2] John Bennett at Roll Call considers Trump’s alienation of conservative factions, especially now what are really paleoconservatives.[3] There are actually two levels to this matter: First, there is the question of how much support Trump actually sacrifices by ditching Bannon. Paleoconservatives, apart from calling attention to themselves with protests such as at Charlottesville,[4] and occasional terrorist incidents, don’t really amount to much—and, truth be told, the less insane among them are well aware of this. Continue reading “Forecasting Donald Trump’s demise”

  1. [1]Colleen Shalby, “From blaming ‘many sides’ to ‘racism is evil’ and back again, what Trump has said so far on Charlottesville,” Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-how-trump-s-responded-to-violence-in-1502831078-htmlstory.html
  2. [2]Michael C. Bender and Peter Nicholas, “Steve Bannon, Controversial Aide to Trump, Exits White House Staff,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/steve-bannon-leaves-white-house-staff-1503075345
  3. [3]John T. Bennett, “Trump Is Quickly Running Out of GOP Factions to Alienate,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, August 18, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/trump-gop-factions-alienate/
  4. [4]Joe Heim, “Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death,” Washington Post, August 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/local/charlottesville-timeline/