Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘nuclear weapons’ Category

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

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I  came across this image on Facebook this morning. Got a chuckle out of it. I am hoping my typical reader is astute enough to pretty much instantly say “No way!” The last sentence in the meme is accurate though, no one alive today has ever witnessed anything like the above image. Before I explain, if the gentle reader doesn’t see the problem, no biggie. Astronomy has no practical applications to daily life, so if one has no interest in it and doesn’t see the problem with the image, perfectly understandable. I still remember reading in Sherlock Holmes that Doctor Watson was astonished to find out that Holmes didn’t know the Earth revolved around the Sun, not vice versa. Holmes was like, I can’t imagine a less useful piece of information, why would I clutter my mind with useless information? An interesting point.

The problem with the image  is that Mars never gets close enough to Earth to appear as large as the Moon. It never gets close enough to appear as anything other than a bright star in the sky. If Mars ever does get that close, at the very least there would be huge tidal surges causing massive flooding along ocean shorelines the world over. At the very least. Any event in the Solar System powerful enough to knock Mars (Or the Earth) out of their orbit would almost certainly have other terrible effects on Earth. Like changing its orbit for starters, even possibly dragging Earth away from the Sun entirely. It’s unlikely the human race would survive such. If the Sun disappeared within weeks the atmosphere would have frozen and fallen to the ground as snow, and life on Earth would be pretty much extinct. I still remember a great science fiction story about the same from my youth, it can be read here: A Pail of Air. And for those who are curious enough to want to experience the loss of the Sun, I helpfully blogged about it once: How Can I Destroy the Sun?

I try to be helpful on Doug’s Darkworld. And in that vein, nonsense aside, the Moon will indeed be very close to Mars in the sky this weekend. This fine article discusses it. And no, it doesn’t happen every two centuries, it happens every two years or so. See it for oneself: The Moon and Mars Align.

Moving right along, today was the anniversary of a significant historical event. An old friend’s father saw the predecessor to it in 1945:

In the predawn hours of July 16, 1945 my teenage father was sitting on the bed of his room putting on his shoes before going out to deliver the morning paper, he was a paperboy. Suddenly his room lit up with a white light so bright, he had to close his eyes. The shades were still drawn. A few minutes later, the room began to rumble. This sound bounced off the mountains for 2 long minutes. When it was over, he gathered himself together and went out to deliver the papers. People were standing outside their houses pondering on what had happened. The papers the next day said that a large mine shaft had blown up somewhere out in the desert. That happened occasionally. But the townsfolk speculated that it never sounded like that. There was never an intense light. The rumbling never lasted as long.*

I am of course talking about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. August 6th, 1945, 75 years ago today. The above recollection was about the Trinity Test, the world’s first nuclear explosion. I’ve written about Hiroshima before, it was an event sad beyond reckoning. A city full of civilians, of no military significance, was killed. A second city a few days later. I still don’t think it was justified, the idea that the nuclear attacks on Japan saved lives or ended the war are debatable at best. In fact the idea that killing two cities full of civilians saved lives is prima facie … absurd? I digress. Read this for an alternate view: Nuclear War or Invasion: The False Dichotomy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Rationalizing horrible crimes is a hallmark of America though. Starting from the beginning when we accepted chattel slavery as an acceptable instituion in “the land of the free.” Rationalizing mass death at Washington’s hand is a long established habit. One that continues to this day, fully ⅓ of Americans continue to pretend that Washington’s Olympic class failure to address Covid-19, 160,000 dead and rising, is acceptable.

It’s no more acceptable than the atomic bombings of two cities. Yet here we are, it is what it is. I urge my fellow Americans to work together to defeat Covid-19. Science and reason can still save us, partisanship and politics won’t. Neither will thoughts and prayers. Stay safe everyone, comments, likes and shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

PS: I still think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

*Quote Copyright © 2020 Leslie Smith.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(Image: Facebook post of unknown origin, presumably it is Public Domain under US copyright law. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law in any event.)

Written by unitedcats

August 6, 2020 at 7:17 pm

NIGHTMARE IN LEBANON, AND TRUMP SLIPS FURTHER INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE

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Well, the nightmare explosion in Lebanon is much worse than I initially thought. The destruction and death toll is worse than I had initially assumed. Hundreds are likely dead, with thousands injured. Heard over 150 miles away on the island of Cyprus, the explosion registered as a 3-4 Richter magnitude earthquake. So far no definitive word on what happened, but apparently over 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate  was stored next to stored fireworks. Welders apparently managed to set off the fireworks, resulting in an initial explosion and fire. Eight minutes later that explosion and fire set off the ammonium nitrate, that was the big one. Certainly seems consistent with the footage I’ve seen. Pretty sure Lebanon still has a free press. In any event the world is filled with explosion experts (go figure,) if there’s anything funky with that narrative, no doubt they will weigh in soon.

Aside from just the horrible carnage, there is going to be a horrible aftermath. Lebanon’s hospitals we’re already packed because of the pandemic, so likely this will be a horrible triage situation. Triage is where they divide the wounded into three groups. Those that will likely live without medical care. Those that will likely die even with medical care. And those who likely will be saved with medical care. Only the latter group gets medical care. And even then further cuts might have to be made if there aren’t enough facilities to handle that reduced load. I can’t imagine having to make those sorts of decisions. OK, I sort of can, it would haunt one.

It gets worse. Lebanon imports almost all of its food. Almost all of it through the port of Beirut. And the country’s main grain storage facility was destroyed in the blast. Bread is the staff of life for most Lebanese, so immediate and ongoing food shortages are almost certain. Basically looks like in the near future Lebanon is going to be worse off than even at the height of the bad times during Lebanon’s fifteen year civil war. Locals are using “doomed” and “hopeless” to describe the catastrophe. And did I mention that corruption and incompetence almost certainly caused this disaster? The welders were not using OSHA approved methods I’m sure, and why the hell were fireworks stored next to ammonium nitrate? Why was the ammonium nitrate even stored there in the first place? There were already big demonstrations against the government going on, so an explosion of anger is likely imminent.

That’s the gist of it. All from this article: Lebanon’s Mushroom Cloud of Incompetence. The author is Lebanese, and it seems objective enough. Oh, and just saw, some port officials have already been placed under house arrest. What a nightmare, and it will keep unfolding for who knows how long. Oh, and of course Trump came out and said the explosion was a “terrible attack.” Anonymous defense officials have already corrected him, there is literally zero reason to believe this was any sort of attack. No doubt Trump will double down on his claim, because admitting he was wrong appears to be beyond his capabilities. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Trump, he does appear to be getting less hinged as the election gets closer. 160,000 dead, the worst economic downturn since the great depression, not surprising. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have inspired him to actually do much about either. His Axios interview was telling. I’ve watched enough Trump this past few months to see what he does. He basically praises himself, pats himself on the back, and blames everyone else for the nation’s problems. And his aides provide him with talking points to toss out that superficially sound good, but fall apart upon analysis. Like his claim that a smaller percentage of Americans are dying of Covid-19 than was the case when it broke out. True, but so what? The world’s medical establishment has learned a lot about how to treat it in the past few months, basically a meaningless factoid. The shear numbers of Americans dying is damning.

And sadly after briefly appearing to take Covid-10 more seriously, Trump’s backtracked and is once again claiming “It’s just going to go away.” He’s still living in a fantasy world where Covid-19 will magically go away, the children will go back to school, the economy will recover, and he will be re-elected in the fall more popular than ever. Yeah, and Mussolini got an utterly unprepared Italy into World War Two because he fantasized about riding a white horse into Cairo at the head of his victorious legions. The war didn’t turn out well for him. In fact a lot on the right are going off the deep end, Alex Jones is claiming leftists are stockpiling explosives and weapons for some nefarious purposes, and rightists should strike first. If that’s not inciting violence, I don’t know what is. Oh well, read about that and other far right nonsense here. And here.

Did have a commenter here the other day who said he liked having Trump as his president. Well, what can I say, Trump still has his fans. Here’s a good article on doing one’s own research. I share as part of my ongoing efforts to encourage people to use reason and science to guide their lives, not emotion and religion. The latter hasn’t been working against Covid-19 as the friends, families, and loved ones of over 160,000 dead Americans can attest. I hope my Trump admiring reader doesn’t become one of them.

And here’s the funny meme for the day:

Stay safe everyone. My election vigil continues.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image of the explosion in Beirut. Credit and copyright: https://warisboring.com It’s a reduced size, grayscale copy of the original. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law due to that, it’s arguably an historically important image, central to the post, and no public domain image is yet available. The second image is a Facebook meme and claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, if it even has a copyright.)

Written by unitedcats

August 5, 2020 at 8:04 pm

WAR DRUMS

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Well, so much for writing fun sciency or history posts. Stuff just keeps happening in Trump’s confrontation with Iran. I will write on and off during the day, updating when necessary. The first development is Trump threatening to attack 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliates for the US’s targeted killing of a popular Iranian general. Hundreds of thousands have turned out for his funeral. The general’s, Trump is still with us. And Iraq just voted to expel all US troops from Iraq. Gee, they don’t want any part of Trump’s war with Iran, and they certainly don’t want it fought in Iraq. Who would have guessed? And just now, Iran rolled back the 2015 nuclear deal.

I’m not sure what Trump is trying to accomplish by making threats. It’s bizarre that his airport attack is presented as some sort of defensive move or preventing a war. Now if anything happens, he has backed himself into a corner. And gave Iran cover for rolling back on the nuclear deal. Which isn’t going to make our allies happy. And how will Trump respond to that? It’s not like harsher sanctions are an option. Worse, anyone who wants war between the US and Iran just has to fake an Iranian backed terrorist attack. If it’s spectacular enough Trump will really be on the hot seat. I can’t see any good about a war with Iran, but some organizations and even some governments would. Certainly I’m seeing people saying Trump is Israel and Saudi Arabia’s puppet, there’s some truth to it for sure.

It should be pointed out that Iran is closely aligned with Russia and China, which again highlights the absurdity of “Trump is Putin’s puppet” codswallop. And the administration idea that general Soleimani was some sort of American murdering terrorist plotting to kill more Americans doesn’t seem to have any evidence backing it up. Staggering amounts of nonsense all over Facebook and the media. At least we seemed to have backed down on Trump’s threat to attack cultural sites.

Trump should be happy, he’s destroyed the 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama’s signature accomplishments. Hopefully that’s the worst of it, but sadly burning oil facilities and a worldwide economic jolt are still very much an unpleasant possibility. Bombing Iran isn’t going to fix anything, nor will it engender regime change in Iran. Not exactly sure what Trump is trying to accomplish, if he manages to bluster through this without making it worse he’ll get my approval.

I am just trying to get my thoughts down and published. Some of my friends are refusing to watch the news, it’s all pretty depressing now. I have no idea what’s going to happen now, anyone who says they do is deluding themselves. “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice” though, as the good colonel said in Heart of Darkness. This often leads to bad things. I hope it all blows over and I can go back to blogging about cats.

I’m reading a book about the Battle of Stalingrad, some light reading to distract me from the news. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thoughts and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Digital art. Credit: Pixabay, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

THE DOUG’S DARKWORLD GUIDE TO NOT SURVIVING A NUCLEAR ATTACK

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This is a 2018 reprint from my Patreon site. Enjoy. ;)
usa-potential-nuclear-targets
Yes, the gentle reader read the title correctly, it’s not a typo. There’s been a lot of talk lately about nuclear war, and for good reason, it’s all too likely with the current crew in Washington. And a sentiment I have heard from a number of people in such discussions, is that if there is a nuclear war, they would prefer to be killed outright. I’m a “where there’s life there’s hope” kind of guy, but I guess I can understand. No fast food, no pizza delivery, empty Walmarts swarming with radioactive zombies. And of course, no cable TV. That alone would make life not worth living for some folks. So thinking on this, I realize there’s lots of books and websites about how to survive a nuclear war, I’ve even written some myself. These are of no help for people whose goal is non survival. So as a public service in these perilous times:

 

THE DOUG’S DARKWORLD GUIDE TO NOT SURVIVING A NUCLEAR ATTACK

OK, the first step, as in real estate, is location location location. The nearer one lives and works to a nuclear target, the better one’s odds of being a casualty before one is even aware there is a war going on. This is especially true the closer one gets to a coast. The above map is a rough guide, but basically if one looks out one’s front window and sees a major military base, major transport hub, or major urban area … all good. And try to have the bedroom window facing the same direction, wars are often scheduled at night.

Of course, if a war starts or seems like it is about to start, great time to take a vacation near a target  if one isn’t fortunate enough to live near a target. As a bonus, the traffic jams will likely be going the other way, and the motel room will be cheap or even free! Room service may be limited or non-existent, so bring along food and booze. Might as well be comfortable while awaiting vaporization.

Still, if one isn’t close enough to ground zero, it gets trickier, but there’s still hope if one isn’t instantly turned into a shadow on a wall. One just needs to know how to recognize a nuclear attack, and react appropriately. The first sign will be an incredibly bright flash of light, it might even be blinding or cause severe burns. If so, all good, just stay where one is. Now if one is sheltered somehow from the blinding light, quick action is essential. There are moments, up to a minute, to get into the open and face the direction the flash came from. That’s because within a minute of the flash, the blast wave will hit. Standing in the open facing it, or even looking through a window in the right direction, will do the trick. In fact after watching this link, handy tip: If the blinds in a room suddenly burst into flame, quick, jump in front of the window!

OK, dammit, the war started, but unluckily one was in a basement or otherwise not close enough to ground zero. Don’t lose hope, with a bit of perseverance blessed relief can still be had. It may take a few days, and they may be unpleasant days, but think of the years of suffering avoided. Simply head towards the nearest mushroom cloud. Breath deep, keep the car windows open and the AC off. If it starts to rain, run around in it and drink as much as possible, roll around in the mud. With a little luck, more bombs will go off in the vicinity, increasing the odds of being a first strike casualty.

When one arrives at ground zero, and there’s a crater, booyaa, fallout city. Roll around in the dirt, swallow it, with any luck at all nausea, hair loss, and death will soon follow. If no crater, well, head downwind. And think of everything around as being covered in magic pixie fairy dust, and the goal is to get completely covered with the dust, inside and out. The more the merrier, and the faster relief will come. Turn down any misguided offers of medical care of course, unless it’s purely palliative care. Keep the goal in mind.

Lastly, worst case scenario, nuclear war has started. (And maybe even ended already.) There’s not a mushroom cloud in sight. None within driving distance even. In this case, yeah, it’s hopeless. You’re well and truly fucked … life goes on. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Nuclear targets in the united States. Credit: FEMA. legal to use under US copyright law as long as one does not claim FEMA is endorsing the content. I think it’s safe to say this is not a FEMA approved guide.)

Written by unitedcats

December 5, 2019 at 8:46 am

Posted in nuclear weapons, War, WMDs

WHAT ROUGH BEAST

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The_Sandman_a_B-24_Liberator,_piloted_by_Robert_Sternfels

I was working on my interstellar visitor post, then this happened. Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities have been hit by drones, reducing their production capacity by about 50%. Saudi Arabia is the world’s number two producer of oil. So, to put it succinctly, this is a big deal. All hell could break loose Monday when the world’s stock markets open. It’s also possible that this is the first salvo in a much wider war in the region. Or as some are already saying, the End Times have begun. Maybe, hope not.

OK, so why is this attack so important? There’s a lot to unpack here. First, regional background, unstable as hell: Houthi rebels started a civil war in Yemen in 2015, ousting the authoritarian president. Saudi Arabia backed by the west has been waging war on Yemen since, trying to defeat the Houthis and reinstall the ousted dictator. The Saudis fear the Houthis will ally with Iran, though it’s unclear that their war has achieved anything, or even can achieve anything. And Yemen is a terrible failed state at this point with numerous factions in the fight for different goals.

As well, in 2015 Iran signed a humiliating deal with the USA and other major powers. They caved to intrusive western nuclear inspections that made a mockery of the NPT and Iranian sovereignty. Iran problem solved, right? No, along came Trump who backed out of the deal and started a campaign of economic warfare against Iran. Regime change being the goal apparently. Israel is urging the US to attack Iran, and there’s certainly people in Washington who think it’s a great idea.

There have also been other mysterious attacks on some oil tankers in the Gulf recently. And now this, a drone strike does devastating damage to Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity. Not cruise missiles, drones. Small, cheap, could have been launched by any number of nations. Houthi rebels are claiming it was them, Trump is claiming Iran launched the drones. When the markets open Monday oil prices will likely rise, and all sorts of economic hell might break loose. And of course this could spread to other acts of war in the region.

First takeaway, believe no one. Governments always lie.  Could have been Houthi rebels. They could have gotten the drones from Iran, or any number of third parties. Could have been Iran. Doesn’t really matter, since both the US and Israel are going to blame Iran and react accordingly. And anyone else who is happy to see the Saudi’s and/or the US petrodollar hurt may try and figure out how to take advantage of this. That would be China, Russia, and Venezuela for starters. I don’t think North Korea will be shedding any tears over this either. The rest of the world is urging calm, since a catastrophic war that takes out a large part of the world’s oil production will hurt all around.

So, a lot of angry arguing cooks in the kitchen and a stove top grease fire just broke out, what happens now? Do they work together to put out the fire? Or does someone throw flaming grease on someone else. That’s really the only question that matters now. Even if nothing else happens, gas prices are likely to rise, the world’s economies will take a hit, and even temporary gas shortages are possible. If the US or Israel does attack Iran, anything is possible. Oil facilities are very soft targets, and when it comes right down to it, the world economy is very fragile in many respects.

And sadly I know I recently said I hope Trump gets through the rest of his presidency without having to deal with a major crisis. Obviously I should have knocked on wood when I typed that. Maybe this isn’t a major crisis just yet, but it could get there quickly. And we have a man in the White House who thinks he can retroactively change reality using a sharpie. This does not fill me with confidence. At least Bolton is gone, he’d be foaming at the mouth urging an attack on Iran. Someone could slip and fall. I’m hoping cooler heads prevail everywhere.

In any event I’m posting this today because by Monday the situation may have changed. If there are further unpleasant developments, I will post on Monday or Tuesday. If not (fingers and toes crossed,) on Wednesday I will post about Comet Borisov and aliens. Hope everyone is having a good weekend, stay calm and carry on.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: B-24 Liberator, emerging from smoke over the Astra Română refinery, Rumania, during World War Two.  Only Public Domain picture of a refinery under attack I could locate on short notice. Credit: Jerry J. Joswick This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm