Gods of Metal


In this follow-up to Command and Control, Schlosser explores the conscientious objectors and protestors who have sought to highlight not just the immorality of nuclear weapons, but the hilariously insecure state the US government stores them in. In all seriousness, we are talking grannies with heart conditions being able to break in.

My only real objection to this book is that is more of a pamphlet than a book, and feels a bit like things that didn’t make it into the main book. That said, it is well worth the read.

Gods of Metal Book Cover Gods of Metal
Eric Schlosser
August 6, 2015

'Sitting not far below my feet, there was a thermonuclear warhead about twenty times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, all set and ready to go. The only sound was the sound of the wind.' Seventy years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Eric Schlosser's powerful, chilling piece of journalism exposes today's deadly nuclear age. Originally published in the New Yorkerand now expanded, this terrifying true account of the 2012 break-in at a high-security weapons complex in Tennessee is a masterly work of reportage. 'So incontrovertibly right and so damnably readable.' Financial Times


Command and Control


I finished this book a while ago and it appears that I forgot to write it up. This book is by the author of Fast Food Nation and it is just as good as his other book. The history of America’s nuclear weapons and their security (or lack thereof) is as compelling as it is terrifying. I found this book hard to put down while reading it, and would recommend it to others.

Command and Control Book Cover Command and Control
Eric Schlosser

Presents a minute-by-minute account of an H-bomb accident that nearly caused a nuclear disaster, examining other near misses and America's growing susceptibility to a catastrophic event.




Trigger warning, I suppose.










This like a Tom Clancy book, but with weirder sex, much of it non-consensual. Also, not as well thought through or as well researched or as believable. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

Ghost Book Cover Ghost
John Ringo
October 31, 2006

Former SEAL Michael Harmon, Team Name "Ghost", retired for service injuries, is not enjoying college life. But things are about to change, if not for the better. When he sees a kidnapping a series of, at the time logical, decisions leave him shot to ribbons and battling a battalion of Syrian commandos with only the help of three naked co-eds who answer to the names ¿Bambi,¿ ¿Thumper¿ and ¿Cotton Tail.¿ A fast-paced, highly-sexual, military-action thriller that ranges from a poison factory in the Mideast to the Florida Keys to Siberia, the novel will keep you guessing what twisted fate will bring next for the man once known as . . . Ghost. Keep an eye on him or . . . poof, he'll be gone.


More nuclear bunkers


Its clear from my past posts that I am interested in cold war bunkers.

I just watched “Lost Worlds: US Nuclear Bunkers”. That’s re-ignited my interest in US nuclear bunkers (as well as cold war history in general). I like the idea of the Lorton Bunker (under a correctional facility 20 miles form Washington DC, and abandoned in only 2001), and I’ve talked about the Greenbrier bunker before.

It’s a pity its four hours drive from Arlington, VA:

View Larger Map

The Greenbrier was secret for 30 years, and kept constantly stocked will all the supplies needed for three weeks of sealed living for 1,100 people. Finally it was leaked by one article in the Washington Post. After the article, the site had to be decommissioned.

Next, they talked about the Palm Beach Florida bunker built for JFK. Tours of that bunker are cheap too — only $10 each. This bunker is only a decontamination shower, and a single room, but I guess you wouldn’t complain if you’d just been nuked.

Finally, there is Cheyenne Mountainwhich used to offer tours, but apparently doesn’t any more.


There is nothing of honour here


If you look at it just right, the universal radiation warning symbol looks a bit like an angel. The circle in the middle could indicate the head, the lower part might be the body, and the upper two arms of the trefoil could represent the wings… The U.S. Department of Energy has been grappling with that problem recently, as they designed the warning markers to use at Yucca Mountain and at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nuclear waste storage facilities.


Natural nuclear reactors


In the early- to mid-1950s, Dr. Paul Kuroda from the University of Arkansas described the possibility of naturally occurring nuclear reactors lurking in the crust of ancient Earth… Such a reactor could not exist today, because too much of the Earth’s natural U-235 has decayed… but a billion and a half years ago, there was enough of it around to make the idea plausible. In point of fact, it has since been discovered that it actually happened.

Damn Interesting, Wikipedia.


Starfish Prime


As for Starfish Prime, because there is almost no air at an altitude of 400 kilometres, no fireball formation occurred, although manifold other notable effects did occur. About 1500 kilometres (930 statute miles) away in Hawaii, the Electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion was felt as three hundred street lights failed, television sets and radios malfunctioned, burglar alarms went off and power lines fused. On Kauai, EMP shut down telephone calls to the other islands by burning out the equipment used in a microwave link. Also, the sky in the Pacific region was illuminated by an artificial aurora for more than seven minutes. In part, these effects were predicted by Nicholas Christofilos, a scientist who had earlier worked on the Operation Argus high-altitude nuclear shots.

High altitude nuclear testing leads to interesting EMP effects, which is something I have known about for a while. There is good coverage of Starfish Prime at Wikipedia and some US government hearings on the issue are interesting too.

Wow. Did they really break a bunch of satellites?

While some of the energetic beta particles had followed of the earth’s magnetic field and illuminated the sky, other high-energy electrons became trapped in man-made radiation belts around the earth. There was much uncertainty and debate about the composition, magnitude, and potential adverse effects from this trapped radiation after the detonation. The weaponeers became quite worried when three satellites in low earth orbit were disabled. These man-made radiation belts eventually crippled one-third of all satellites in low orbit. Seven satellites were destroyed as radiation knocked out their solar arrays or electronics, including the first commercial communication satellite ever, Telstar.

Those are from the Wikipedia page. There is also another Wikipedia page on high altitude nuclear testing which discusses Russian efforts as well, including this gem:

The Soviets detonated four high-altitude tests in 1961 and three in 1962. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, both the US and the USSR detonated several high-altitude nuclear explosions as a form of sabre-rattling. The Soviet tests were meant to demonstrate their anti-ballistic missile defences which would supposedly protect their major cities in the event of a nuclear war. The worst effects of a Russian high altitude test occurred on 22 October 1962 (during the Cuban missile crisis), in ‘Operation K’ (ABM System A proof tests) when a 300-kt missile-warhead detonated near Dzhezkazgan at 290-km altitude. The EMP fused 570 km of overhead telephone line with a measured current of 2,500 A, started a fire that burned down the Karaganda power plant, and shut down 1,000-km of shallow-buried power cables between Aqmola and Almaty [5]. The Partial Test Ban Treaty was passed the following year, ending atmospheric and exoatmospheric nuclear tests.