Thursday, April 29, 2021

Nuclear War Games

 Nuclear War Games

a Modest Proposal



Upon agreed-upon occasions, participating contestant countries send the following to a host country:

A “shell”; that is, a nuclear bomb, minus chemical trigger-explosives and fissiles;

Chemical explosives and fissiles;

Blueprints for those nukes;

A modest entrance fee;

And a sizable entrance loan.


The shell, the explosives and the fissiles are handed over with great care and ceremony from participant countries to host country via their elite military forces. The entrance fee defrays the host’s country’s game-hosting expenses; and return of the loan depends upon the kilotonnage of the nukes.

Shell, explosives and fissiles then go to the test site, at a remote deserted area, at which there are glove boxes, deep mine-shafts, and many reporters with video cameras. On Trinity Day, representatives from the participating countries arrive at the test site. These representatives include their heads of state, so that they may witness the results personally. Those heads of state are inconvenienced no more than is inevitable in long hasty trips to and from remote deserted areas. That should suffice.

Before the bombs explode, the heads of state attend globally broadcasted speeches, by them and by invited speakers. One of those speakers, a “holy fool” wearing motley, is permitted and encouraged to warn, bewail, question, criticize, castigate, curse, mock, and satirize the assembled heads of state for their nuclear ambitions.

Each country’s team assembles their nukes in the glove boxes, under close surveillance by the host country. These nukes then go to the bottom of the mine shafts. The mine shafts are sealed off. The nukes explode. This has full global media coverage.

Right after the bombs explode, the heads of state go home.

All countries whose nukes do not achieve the kilotonnage goal forfeit their loans. The winning countries get back their loans, and the forfeited loans are distributed evenly among the winning countries and the host country.

Entrance loans are also forfeit if the nukes cause damage to the host country by exceeding the kilotonnage limit.

The blueprints, and the glove-box footage, is distributed, unedited, to the winning countries and the host country.

In addition to the loans, there may also be treaties whose terms depend upon the kilotonnage of the nukes. These “side bets” may cover exchanges of money, territory, alliances, trading arrangements, and other considerations that would otherwise require a war to settle.

No participating country may test their nukes any other way.

The point of the exercise is to impose order upon chaos via games and ritual. Nuclear war games are “virtual” nuclear wars; they have all the physical ferocity of nuclear war, but with zero casualties. This maximizes witnesses, and consequent political point. It is done under full global media scrutiny, with blueprints shared by the winners, in order to reduce uncertainty to a minimum; for the greatest terror is the unknown.

Unassembled nukes, with shell, trigger and fissiles stored separately, are “virtual” nukes, which all participating countries have by definition. Virtual nukes are reliable once they are tested in a virtual nuclear war. Unlike assembled nukes, virtual nukes do not threaten a first-strike attack; yet they resist first strike. It’s hard to nuke a nuke that isn’t there yet. So it’s best to not wake the dragon!

What’s in it for the participants? Splitting up the loser’s loans; global bragging rights; each other’s blueprints and glove-box footage; and a secure second-strike capability. The last one implies a stable nuclear peace.



BJ wrote:

When the last actual use of nukes was 1945, how is this modest proposal even relevant? Japan was some kind of stupid if they didn’t get back to us after Hiroshima, so we did Nagasaki 3 days later and ever since then we’ve all avoided nuclear war. The really expensive war is the usual conventional stuff like Iraq.


NH replied:

The USA has often used nukes, in the sense that pointing a gun at someone’s head and threatening to shoot is use of the gun even if it isn’t fired.

1945 was 75 years ago. Most everyone alive then is dead or elderly, so institutional memory fades. As usual the lessons of History need renewal by repeating History. 1945 also taught us that Nazis are evil losers, but now we got neo-Nazis. Here we go again?

Think of these Nuclear War games (a.k.a. Nuclear Blatancy Days) as refreshing institutional memories. Every new head of state should thus be hazed. Ideally this should terrorize the ruling classes while leaving us worker bees relatively unbothered. (Don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses. And we’re the horses.)

My nickname for Nuclear War Games: “Burning World”. Like Burning Man. You hadda be there, bro...




Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Physically Impossible Advice

Physically Impossible Advice


The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” annoys me. It’s physically impossible, because of the law of conservation of momentum. What’s worse, that stupid meme started out as a joke. How arrogant and disrespectful, for the rich to offer, in jest, a physical impossibility as advice to the poor!

I am also annoyed by the demand to “turn the clock back”: another physical impossibility, due to the second law of thermodynamics. Time is one-way! The moment the clock hits 12:01 pm, then the only way back to noon is through evening, midnight, and morning.

And as for “the magic of the marketplace”; its main magic trick is to make your money... disappear. 

Those who offer physical impossibilities as advice should show the rest of us how, by doing something anatomically impossible!

If you know other physically impossibilities offered as fake advice, then please let me know. I would like to weave as many of them as possible into a single absurd paragraph, just to see the result. For instance:


May the magic of the marketplace summon the invisible hand! And may that hand turn the clock back to when you could pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Letters of Marque and Reprisal

On January 6, 2020 at 5:18 PM,  NH wrote:


In response to Trump’s assassination of Soleimani, Iranian state TV has announced an 80 megabuck bounty on Trump. Citation:

Trevor Moore’s jokes are... edgy. As for me, I want Trump to leave the Oval Office as vertical as the bars that we then lock him behind.

There is precedent for warfare by assassinations. Hassan-i Sabbah founded the Asāsiyyūn (أساسيون, meaning “people who are faithful to the foundation [of the faith]”), from which we get the word “assassin”.

If Trump wanted a war of assassinations, then he should have first asked Congress for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Congress has this power by Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution. Technically such letters are for sea raiders, but I modestly propose issuing them to mercenaries and assassins in general, to deal with terror threats too small to settle by warfare, and too big to settle by police work.

My inner brat smiles at the prospect of a war of assassinations. May the ruling classes kill each other and leave the rest of us alone! But my inner geezer fears the chaos that assassination warfare causes.

Sure, it’s annoying that our misrulers hide behind the people, and call dissidents cowards for objecting to being their human shields. But this craven custom exists for a reason; namely, that rich powerful psychopaths do nasty things when their money is threatened, but they do even nastier things when their lives are threatened.


LF replied:

Technically, hired mercs are operating under “letters of marque”. Not a bad idea, really. Better to kill off the rulers than the population.


NH replied:

And it’s good to formalize the process. Open piracy. But wars of assassinations can have unintended consequences. For instance, the kind of political leaders who survive such wars are not the kind you want to have in peace. Also, your side might lose. Like, maybe, JFK vs Castro.

Here’s Stan Rogers’ low opinion of privateers:


Monday, April 26, 2021

Covid Guinea Pigs Updated

 Dear anti-vaxxers:


 Thank you for volunteering for a covid exposure experiment. Years from now doctors will study you to learn the virus’s long-term pathologies.

 It is unethical to deliberately assign people to such an experiment, but when it happens by accident or folly, then it’s an opportunity for medicine to acquire valuable data not legally obtainable otherwise.

 Dear covid guinea pigs, your sacrifice of health and lifespan will serve to advance medical science. Rest assured that examining your cases will turn a profit for Big Pharma.

 But be warned: yours is not informed consent. Also, try not to breed variants which then infect non-volunteers.

Friday, April 23, 2021

How Daylight Savings Time Was Invented

 How Daylight Savings Time Was Invented


You may have heard this story about how Daylight Savings Time was invented; one summer morning in Paris, Benjamin Franklin awoke to find summer sunlight streaming through the window. Shocked by this waste of sunlight, he resolved to set the clock ahead one hour in the middle of spring, and one hour back in the middle of fall. Frugal old Ben calculated that this system, which he called “Daylight Savings Time”, would save a huge amount of candle-usage in the summer evenings.

True enough, but economies there may be diseconomies elsewhere, such as in the winter evening. Daylight Savings Time is like sewing a foot of cloth to the top of your bedsheet – cut from the bottom of your bedsheet. Is Daylight Savings Time penny-wise, pound-foolish?

I would like to clarify a long-neglected part of the historical record; namely, what on earth inspired Benjamin Franklin to consider early morning sunlight to be a resource to be conserved and redistributed?

Here is my theory:


“Leve-toi, ma cherie,” she trilled. “C’est matin!”

Benjamin Franklin sat bolt upright. “Gadzooks,” he cried, clutching the covers to his midriff. “It’s full daylight!”

“ ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’,” she teased.

“But it’s summer,” he explained. “The sun rises early.”

“Earlier than you, ma cherie,” she teased. “Early to bed? Well, that we were. Early to rise? Well…”

Benjamin Franklin got out of bed. He put on a nightshirt and approached the nightstand. “We burned this candle all evening,” he said with sorrow while looking at the empty candle-holder. “Had we but another hour of sunlight, we could have saved a whole candle!”

“Oui, ma cherie,” she agreed. “And had we but another hour of night, we could have used up a whole candle!”

“But let’s see,” he said as he sat at a desk and picked up a quill. “If we reset the clock every solstice… Hm! Forward an hour, then backward…? Or is it the other way around?”

“Forward, backward, forward, backward…” she murmured.

“Spring forward, fall backward!” he cried.

She sprang forward and grabbed him. After some playful tussling, she stood behind him, massaging his shoulders while he wrote down his new idea.

“What’ll you call this?” she asked.

“Daylight Savings Time,” he boasted. “By resetting clocks, I can move sunlight from one end of the day to the other!”

“Silly old man,” she said, giggling. “What a folly! It is the most absurd scheme I have ever heard!”

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” said Benjamin Franklin. He stared wistfully at the full summer sunlight (and he not even dressed yet!) then resumed work on his clever new plan.