Tag Archives: Armageddon

In Memory Of Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who (Literally) Saved The World

Stanislav Petrov

Today is an important day, one that became even more important this past year. You probably didn’t realize it and for good reason. Until recently, the significance of this day had been lost to history, but it’s a day that deserves recognition, albeit for a very sobering reason.

This day became one of the most significant days not affiliated with a holiday sale at the mall on September 26, 1983. On that day, the world as we know it almost ended. That’s not a hyperbole. That’s not a conspiracy theory out of a an Alex Jones fever dream either. It’s painfully true. The world almost died in a nuclear fire on that day, but it didn’t because of a decision made by one man.

That man’s name is Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov and if you were alive on that day, or were born after it, then you owe your existence to this man. For a brief moment on that day, 35 years ago, he literally held the fate of the world in his hand and he made the decision that saved it. As someone who regularly lauds superheroes and the values espoused in comics, even I can’t overstate the significance of what that man did.

The incident that almost ended the world and made Stanislav Petrov a man for the ages widely known about until the mid-2000s. It involved an incident in the former Soviet Union that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. In terms of worst case scenarios, this ranked right up there with an invasion by aliens armed with atomic anal probes.

At the time, Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Forces and had been on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow. In terms of Soviet defense strategy, his role in that bunker was pretty damn important. It was tasked with monitoring Soviet air space to detect an incoming nuclear attack.

It’s worth mentioning that this was a time of heightened tension. President Reagan, at the time, was going long and hard on anti-communist rhetoric. Being a former Hollywood actor who’d just been elected President, the Soviets had no idea if this guy was just going to shoot nuclear missiles at them because he thought it would make a great movie.

In a sense, this was the worst possible time for the systems at the Serpukhov-15 bunker to give a false alarm, but that’s exactly what happened. In the middle of Petrov’s shift, the systems began blaring every alarm it was possible to blare, telling them that America’s new Hollywood President had done just what they’d feared. He launched a full-scale nuclear attack to wipe out the Soviet Union.

I’d say it’s a nightmare scenario, but no amount of killer clowns armed with chainsaws can do justice to this kind of horror. As far as the men in that bunker knew, their country and everyone they loved was about to die in a nuclear inferno. It was the policy of the USSR and the Red Army to respond to any nuclear attack with a devastating retaliation, as specified in the doctrine of mutual assured destruction.

It was Stanislav Petrov’s job/duty to inform the Soviet high command of the detection. Every bit of his military training demanded that he inform his superiors to retaliate, thereby destroying the United States and Western Europe in reign of nuclear fire. In a state of such heightened tensions, he might have been justified in doing so.

All it took was one call to his superiors. That would’ve been it. That would’ve ended the world, as we knew it. Try and think about that for a second. In that moment, the fate of the world and billions of lives lay on the shoulders of Stanislav Petrov. If he makes that call, then the world as we know it is over.

However, in that moment when he literally had the world on his shoulders, he didn’t make that call. In that moment, he made a decision that saved the world and its future. He did it by not following the protocol that he’d been trained to follow and by the Soviet Union, no less, who were not known for being understanding to disobedience.

Petrov, with his duty and the weight of the situation bearing down on him, believed it to be a false alarm. He had good reason for believing this. The systems were detecting only several missiles, which was pretty small, given the sheer size of America’s nuclear arsenal. If America’s Hollywood President really wanted to wipe out the Soviet Union, he definitely would’ve used more.

Even so, his training and his duty told him to inform his superiors. He only had 15 minutes to do so because that’s how long it took for a detectable missile to reach its target. That’s right. In the time it takes to watch an episode of “Robot Chicken,” Stanislav Petrov had to make a decision that would’ve determined the fate of this entire planet.

The fact that no nuclear bombs went off and billions of people didn’t die is proof that he made the right decision. It was later determined that the false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the erratic orbits of the Soviet’s satellites.

It seems so trivial now, but keep in mind that these were tense times during the Cold War. It really didn’t take much to spook either America or the USSR. It could’ve easily become a perfect storm, of sorts, for accidental nuclear annihilation and nobody would’ve been left on this planet to admit they screwed up.

It’s because of Petrov’s decision that day, to not follow protocol and trust his instinct, that we avoided Armageddon. For that decision, Petrov received no metal, commendation, or recognition for his decision. He just got a pat on the back, which was the most anyone could hope for in the Soviet Union at that time.

This man literally saved the world in the most painfully literal sense, but was quickly forgotten. There were no parades, movies, or free tickets to a Madonna concert. Petrov just went back to living his life until he retired from the military.

It really wasn’t until 2004 that Petrov began getting recognized for his actions, that day. By then, though, the weight of that moment had lost its place in the public consciousness. The fact I have to write about it on this blog shows just how little awareness this man and that fateful day have in the annuls of history.

Well, in this year, that day became a lot more important because back in May, Stanislav Petrov passed away at age 77. It wasn’t widely reported. It didn’t even get mentioned on any of the major news outlets in America or Russia. This man who saved billions of lives isn’t even alive anymore to appreciate.

He lived a quiet, unremarkable life towards the end. He never considered himself a hero. He never even tried to put that label on himself. He was just the right man in the right place to make the right decision. In doing so, he saved billions of lives and preserved the future of this planet.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the decision that this man made on that fateful day 35 years ago. Some may brag that they saved the world or are arrogant enough to think that they can. Stanislav Petrov didn’t need to brag because he did it. He saved this world and most people will never know what he did.

Now that he’s passed, let’s all take a moment to appreciate what this man did. By trusting his instinct and his humanity, not wanting to make the decision that would destroy this world, he proved just how heroic a person could be in the worst of circumstances.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all those who are alive because of the decision made that day, thank you Mr. Petrov. Thank you for doing the right thing in the worst of circumstances. This world is still spinning because of you. Rest in peace knowing you saved it.

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Fear, Dread, And Cute Animals

This is a quick message to all my fellow Americans out there. If you’re living in another country with good internet access at the moment, take a break and count your blessings. I think we can all agree that there are a lot of Americans right now who need a hug, a kiss, and maybe a bottle of hard liquor.

These are scary times, I know. The day after an election has never been this scary before. There are people out there who genuinely fear for their lives, their safety, and their livelihoods. I understand that. Some scary things are happening right now and at the risk of belaboring those things, I’m not going to repeat them. I’ll just say this.

Be calm

Be strong

Relax

The human race has endured its share of dark, dire times. We’ve endured horrific catastrophes that sent our species to the brink of extinction. We’ve fought world wars, major economic depressions, and the collapse of civilizations. We, the human race, have found a way to endure. We’re strong. We’re resilient. We also are very good at making love and making babies to make up for our lost numbers.

With all that in mind, I implore you to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look forward. There’s only so much we can control in this world. The best we can do is keep moving forward and contributing in our own way.

I can’t do much other than tell sexy, romantic stories with my novels. I intend to keep doing that for the foreseeable future. I have so many stories to tell and I look forward to sharing them with a world that really needs to get laid more.

Beyond that, I intend to keep moving forward. For those of you who may find that difficult, I give to you the best possible medicine for fear and dread: funny animal videos. Enjoy!

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Relax! The World Is Getting Better.

Let’s not lie to ourselves. For those of us in America, the 2016 Presidential Election feels like a prolonged prostate exam without lube and delivered by Andre the Giant while wearing a boxing glove. In my adult life (and my non-adult life, for that matter), I’ve never become so disillusioned by democracy. The comic book fan in me wants to elect Dr. Doom over any of these choices.

For the non-comic book fans out there, Dr. Doom is seen as one of the most devious villains in the history of comics. He is the alpha and omega of all that is evil. I know this. I understand this. I have no problem saying that I’d still vote for him over the two deep-fried turds we have running this year.

It’s a sad, solemn state for this country that I love. I know we’re a walking joke of hillbillies, rednecks, hippies, and PETA supporters that the rest of the world can easily make fun of, but I really do love this country. I really love being an American. Where else can a comic book fan who writes erotica/romance in his spare time feel at home?

I’m not going to lie though. I’m scared about the election tomorrow. We, the citizens of the United States of America, may vote to give nuclear weapons to someone who may just use them because someone made a bad joke on Twitter. That is fucking terrifying.

While fear is going to make me wake up early to cast my vote, I do try to maintain at least some sense of optimism. I emphasize the word try because that’s pretty damn hard these days. We live in an era where anyone can sit down on a bench, take out their phone, and search for every form of obscure fetish porn. If you can find fetish porn, then you can find some news story that says the world is going to hell.

Just look at some of the news stories that come out of Florida. They’ll make you wish you were born retarded lizard.

As a result of all this fear, frustration, and an ability to find anything on the internet that makes you horny, it’s easy to overlook the fact that things are actually getting better for the human race.

Seriously, it’s true. Things are getting better. People today are better of than their ancestors were 100 years ago. Hell, people are better off today than our ancestors were 25 years ago. Today, people have high speed internet, Netflix, and free porn. That’s objectively better than any era in history by default.

It’s not just our access to movies and porn that make life better though. Despite what certain political parties say at their convention, things are getting better in terms of crime, violence, and overall deviance. I know that’s hard to believe when Fox News shows a new story about minority protesters beating up babies every other hour, but the actual facts (an alien concept to most media these days) don’t bear that out.

Reason.com, a great site for keeping things in perspective if you can sift through the pro-marijuana articles written by stoners, did a great article a few years ago at just how much progress we’ve made as a species. Sure, there’s still poverty. There’s still violence. There’s still reality TV shows that won’t die. Overall though, it’s still pretty damn good.

For most of human history, kids didn’t live long enough to see their second birthday. A good chunk of the female population died in childbirth. The best modern medicine you could get involved leaches and herbs that tasted like shit. Men either toiled in fields or died on whatever battlefields the kings of the day decreed. It was not a pleasant life and not just because it had poor wi-fi.

Don’t believe me? Well, check out the facts for yourself. A site called HumanProgress.org compiles and tracks the data surrounding what we associate with human progress. You’ll find information on things like violence, infant morality, LGBT rights, hate crimes, and racial issues. You’ll also find information on economic issues (good for the insomniacs out there) that put a dollar sign on these issues.

That’s not to say that all trends are going in a positive direction. As I said before, humanity has room for improvement. We still kill each other over what we think happens when we die and fail to see the irony. There are things we do have to work on, but actual data should give us reasons to be hopeful.

For instance, here’s a chart that shows trends in violent crime since the early 1970s. It’s not going up. It’s going down. We’re not turning into a society right out of an old NWA music video. We’re getting a lot better at not shooting and raping each other. That’s a good thing in my book, or anyone’s book for that matter.

 

Then, there’s this little tidbit about children. That’s another issue that should be completely apolitical. We love children and we don’t like seeing them die because of preventable causes. For most of human history, countless children did die because of diseases, disasters, and circumstances we couldn’t do shit about. Well, things have changed. We’ve gotten better at saving the lives of children. In fact, we’ve gotten a lot better.

It’s not just crime and health that are improving either. These may be objective statistics, but if anyone has learned anything about the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s that nobody gives a half-fart about statistics and facts. We go with our feelings, no matter how wrong or misguided they may be.

That can be pretty troubling, the idea that we humans can’t accept the fact that the world is getting better and are doomed to always dread the future. While it is troubling, it’s also inaccurate because things are getting better in the most subjective sense possible: happiness.

That’s right. People are actually happier today than they were 25 years ago. Sure, happiness is one of the most subjective feelings in the world, right up there with tastes in food, movies, and sexual fetishes. It’s still one of the most valuable measures we have towards gauging the state of the human condition and it is getting better.

We’re happier. We’re healthier. We’re more equal, free, and prosperous than we’ve ever been at any time in human history. That, by any measure, is something to be thankful for. It’s something to celebrate.

Now it’s entirely possible that the results of the election tomorrow could reverse all these trends, but baring a nuclear war, that’s very unlikely. This is where caveman logic really works in our favor. When we humans find something that works for us, we tend to stick to it and do everything we can to keep doing it. Again, there’s room for improvement, but we’re making progress.

We’re kicking ass as a civilization. We’re becoming more advanced, more tolerant, and more prosperous. We should all celebrate that, election or not. I’ll celebrate with a glass of whiskey and some of my favorite romance/erotica novels. I encourage everyone to celebrate as well.

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