A pretty great video about The Internet Archive is here. “Library of Alexandria 2.0 will exist for (hopefully) many more centuries than version 1.0 did.” And not only is The Internet Archive archiving the Internet, it’s trying to preserve real live books as well. “Burning books isn’t the problem; people get flooded–there’s so much information.” Hyperarchival realism, indeed.
I was away from the computer for a few days, and didn’t post anything about the terrible tornado in Oklahoma, but here’s an initial article on it from The New York Times. And David Knowles writes for The New York Daily News that the “Oklahoma Tornado Packed More Energy Than Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima.”
On 8 May 2013, Michael R. Gordon for The New York Times and others reported that “The Air Force removed 17 officers assigned to standing watch over nuclear-tipped Minuteman missiles after finding safety violations, potential violations in protecting codes and basic attitude problems.” This has caused the AP to ask “Is There a Morale Crisis in the US Nuclear Force?” Well, yes. And it is history and those damned politicians’ faults. If they just stopped trying to reduce the nuclear arsenal, morale would be higher. An excerpt:
Bruce Blair, a former missile launch officer and now a national security scholar at Princeton University, said Friday that morale has dropped in part because the ICBM mission that originated in 1959, deterring the Soviet Union from attacking the U.S. or Europe, is less compelling than it was generations ago.
“This dead-end career is not the result of shrinking nuclear arsenals, but rather because the Cold War ended decades ago and because so few senior commander jobs exist within the missile specialty,” Blair said. “Most crews can’t wait to transfer out of missiles into faster-track careers such as space operations, but the Air Force doesn’t make it easy.”
[Air Force Secretary Michael] Donley came close to blaming the White House for any malaise. He said that when officers see “the national leadership” contemplating more nuclear reductions “this does have a corrosive effect on our ability to maintain focus on this mission.” He also said “critics or others” contribute to this when they suggest getting rid of the ICBM force entirely.
Yeah, because this should all be our primary concern with regard to nuclear weapons: that the morale of soldiers stays high. I don’t know what to say.
“Apocalypse Networks: Representing the Nuclear Archive” in The Silence of Fallout: Nuclear Criticism in a Post-Cold War WorldMay 7, 2013
Michael J. Blouin, Morgan Shipley, and Jack Taylor have edited a great collection of essays on nuclear criticism, The Silence of Fallout: Nuclear Criticism in a Post-Cold War World (this links to the publisher page). I have an essay in the collection, “Apocalypse Networks: Representing the Nuclear Archive,” that any reader of this blog would probably find quite interesting. And of course there are a number of other interesting essays by accomplished scholars and nuclear critics. You can preview the table of contents, the preface, and the introduction here. And the book is now readily available for order from Amazon and of course other places. (Probably the quickest way to get it would be going directly to CSP’s site.)
I’ve included the Table of Contents below:
Chapter One: “What Works”: Instrumentalism, Ideology, and Nostalgia in a Post-Cold War Culture, Jeff Smith
Chapter Two: Specters of Totality: The Afterlife of the Nuclear Age, Aaron Rosenberg
Chapter Three: Queer Temporalities of the Nuclear Condition, Paul K. Saint-Amour
Chapter Four: Apocalypse Networks: Representing the Nuclear Archive, Bradley J. Fest
Chapter Five: Cut to Black: Nuclear Criticism in a Post-September 11th America, Joseph Dewey
Chapter Six: The Pixilated Apocalypse: Video Games and Nuclear Fears, 1980-2012, William Knoblauch
Chapter Seven: Depictions of Destruction: Post-Cold War Literary Representations of Storytelling and Survival in the Nuclear Era, Julie Williams
Chapter Eight: Allegories of Hiroshima: Toward a Rhetoric of Nuclear Modernism, Mark Pedretti
Chapter Nine: War as Peace: Afterlives of Nuclear War in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Jessica Hurley
Chapter Ten: The Hunger Games: Darwinism and Nuclear Apocalypse Narrative in the Post-9/11 World, Patrick B. Sharp
Chapter Eleven: Legacy of Waste: Nuclear Culture After the Cold War, Daniel Cordle
Chapter Twelve: In a dark wud: Metaphors, Narratives, and Nuclear Weapons, John Canady
But the question for these ruin-spaces is, how long will the[y] exist? We seem to have an attraction to ruins—we want them and seek them out, though never with the same functional desire with which we seek out current structures. What will we do in the future as these ruin-spaces pile up, unable to be destroyed because of their enforced temporality as preserved agedness? The earth is becoming a solid mass of scar tissue, as the tracks of human endeavor scour crosshatching into its surface.
Is the earth becoming a hyperarchive of ruins?
And also at The State, Asher Kohn writes about Central Asia as a post-apocalyptic space in “A Pleasant Post-Apocalypse.” He suggests that “[t]he history of Central Asia is in many ways a history of eschatologies; not a graveyard of empires but perhaps a graveyard of belief systems.” While “eschatological” might be a bit extreme to describe the history he traces, nonetheless, his description of the landscape of post-Soviet Russia bears considering:
It is truly very difficult to explain how Soviet geoforming was such a disaster. Whole seas were turned into steppe. Whole steppes were turned into blast zones. Whole blast zones were restructured to focus on an alien frontier. There is no real way to overestimate the effect this must have on the people who live in the region. Pastoralism is an artifact, not an economy. Islam was tortured by Soviet hubris. Language changes made it impossible for a grandson to communicate with his grandmother. And the land, the very essence of life itself, the only connection a person might have with the folkways of the parents, grandparents, and ancestors of their society, is turned to factory farms and dust and ash. In the 21st century, Central Asia is a post-apocalyptic world.
The article also has some wonderful pictures.
The years between the ﬁrst hydrogen bomb tests and the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 saw more than just increased anxiety about the eﬀects of nuclear testing on weather. They also saw increased interest in large-scale, purposeful environmental modiﬁcation. Most climate modiﬁcation enthusiasts spoke of increasing global temperatures, in the hopes that this would increase the quantity of cultivated land and make for fairer weather. Some suggested blackening deserts or snowy areas, to increase absorption of radiation. Covering large areas with carbon dust, so the theory went, would raise temperatures. Alternatively, if several hydrogen bombs were exploded underwater, they might evaporate seawater and create an ice cloud that would block the escape of radiation. Meteorologist Harry Wexler had little patience for those who wanted to add weather and climate modiﬁcation to the set of tools in man’s possession. But by 1958 even he acknowledged that serious proposals for massive changes, using nuclear weapons as tools, were inevitable. Like most professional meteorologists, in the past he had dismissed the idea that hydrogen bombs had aﬀected the weather. But with the prospect of determined experiments designed to bring about such changes, he warned of “the unhappy situation of the cure being worse than the ailment.”
Oh the things we’re learning about the terrible ideas people had during the first nuclear age.